Your pet’s first trip to the vet can be nerve-wracking for both. However, with some simple preparation and prior research, it can be smooth and much less stressful.
From establishing lines of open communication with the new vet to coming prepared with everything you need to make the appointment run smoothly, Ballantyne Veterinary Clinic is here to help.
Below, you’ll learn what to expect at your new pet’s first visit, what information to bring, beneficial questions to ask, and much more about how to make your puppy or kitten’s first vet appointment go smoothly.
What to Expect at Your Pet’s First Vet Visit
Getting a new animal companion is an exciting and rewarding endeavor. However, it’s crucial to ensure that the new pet has the medical attention and support that it needs, not only in the early stages of its life but also well into the future.
The first visit to the vet is especially important as it will give us a chance to get to know each other and establish routine care for you pet based on their needs. Since we will be covering a lot of ground, we ask that you allot 45 minutes for that first visit (and occasionally longer based on health status)
Just like with people, establishing a relationship with a medical professional is essential for maximizing good health and quality of life. Not only will this first visit set a baseline to be measured against in future visits, but it also allows the vet to get to know the pet, as well as establish a relationship with the owners, allowing a mutual bond of trust to be formed.
When Should Kittens Have Their First Vet Visit?
According to PetMD, new kittens should go to the vet at 6 to 8 weeks of age for their core vaccinations, and then again once every 3 to 4 weeks for booster vaccinations until the animal is 16 to 20 weeks old.
If you’re not sure how old your newly adopted kitten is, it’s a good rule of thumb to take them to the vet within the first week or two of adoption.
When Should Puppies Have Their First Vet Visit?
Similarly to kittens, newly adopted puppies should have their first vet visit at 6 to 8 weeks old to begin vaccinations and rounds of boosters.
While this may have occurred before adopting a new puppy, depending on their age, it is still best to bring a new puppy in to be introduced and examined within the first week or two of bringing it home, according to Dr. Jennifer Coates.
How to Prepare for Your Pet’s First Vet Visit
For new South Charlotte pet owners, bringing a kitten or puppy to their first vet appointment may feel like an intensive undertaking. However, with a some preparation and a thorough understanding of the process, the entire visitl can be made significantly easier and less anxiety-inducing for them — and you.
Here are some tips to help you get ready for your pet’s first vet appointment.
Know Your Pet's Medical History
It is essential for a pet’s new vet to have a full, foundational understanding of the pet’s health. From any medical issues that it may have had in the past to its activity, diet, and other details, many factors like these are critical to making the first visit as productive as can be.
While many intake or pre-examination forms will most likely request this information before a visit, stating and explaining any preexisting conditions, allergies, or adverse reactions to medication will ensure your pet can be properly treated while preserving their safety and comfort.
It cannot be stated strongly enough that if previous medical records for any pet that is going to a new vet exist, THEY MUST BE PRESENTED EITHER AT OR (PREFERABLY) PRIOR TO THE FIRST VISIT. Without these records, we at Ballantyne Veterinary Clinic will not be able to assess what has been done for the pet in the past and therefore what is needed both at this visit and in the future. Additionally, if previous diagnostics have been done and we don’t have copies of results, we will either be making medical decisions in the dark, or will need to repeat them. We generally recommend sharing the previous vet with us when you schedule the appointment and we will call them for records to ensure they can be reviewed prior to the appointment.
Next, it is important to discuss the pet’s typical activity level or exercise, as well as their diet, including what food they eat and how much (take a picture of the bag). This can assist in establishing a proper diet and weight maintenance plan moving forward.
In a similar vein, noting behavior problems, changes, health concerns, and living arrangements is essential, especially on the first visit. Not only can the vet recommend action to mitigate or improve any of these factors, but it will also allow them to get an idea of the general disposition of the animal, as will be discussed later.
Finally, if it is known that the pet has had issues with pests, parasites, or toxins recently, the first visit is the best time to bring such issues to attention.
Address Known Behavior Issues Before the Visit
It’s not uncommon for any pet to be fearful of going to the vet. If your pet has previously known anxiety at the vet’s office, please let us know. If your pet has been previously prescribed medications for stress, go ahead and give them prior to the visit. While we are happy to prescribe medications for pets who are stressed out at our office, we do have to see them first to do so.
If you have developed previous strategies with a vet to help with your pet’s anxieties, please share them with us. Knowing that a pet does best while muzzled, or away from their owner, can help us manage the stress of the visit. Additionally, we will help develop ongoing strategies for pets who are stressed as we want them to be happy coming to see us. Over time we have been very successful in helping pets with high stress levels at the office become much more tolerant of visits with us, with nothing more than taking the time to get to know them so we can determine what works best.
Understand What the Appointment May Include
While the agenda of an initial vet appointment will vary based on your pet as an individual, it will generally include a few key components. Below is a list of standard first-visit physical checks that can be expected at Ballantyne Veterinary Clinic:
- Check weight and temperature
- Observe eyes and ears for signs of chronic changes, disease, or other concerns
- Assess the pet’s gait, standing stance, long bones and joints for symptoms of pain or decreased mobility
- Examine skin and coat condition
- Assess oral health and dental hygiene
- Palpate, or feel, the abdomen to check internal organs
- Listen to the heart and lungs to assess their overall health
In addition, it is important to bring a fecal sample to the pet’s first visit unless a fecal has been performed recently. This can help detect potential parasites, bowel and intestinal conditions, bacterial infections and imbalances, and other pressing concerns. Additionally, it can give a significant amount of information about the overall health of any new pet.
Questions to Ask at Your First Vet Visit
There is no prescribed set of questions to ask during a pet’s first vet visit. However, it is important to establish open communication with the new vet.
If there are any concerns, ensure they are written down prior to the appointment so they are not forgotten in the moment. Additionally, we will want to spend the time discussing problems to determine not only what solutions are available, but also which ones fit best for you and your pet.
Not all questions have to be concern-based, as general knowledge and lifestyle questions are a great way to learn more about how to promote a healthy lifestyle and choices throughout the pet’s life.
Schedule Your Pet’s First Visit With Ballantyne Veterinary Clinic
Your pet’s first vet visit may well be one of the most important. From building trust between the vet and yourself to ensuring an open line of communication, this appointment lays the foundation for the remainder of the pet’s time with the vet.
It is essential to come prepared with all medical and vaccination history, any questions you may have about your pet’s health or lifestyle, and any concerns or questions you may have about their behavior.
Since being well-prepared for your pet’s first visit can have a hugely beneficial impact on their health and well-being as they grow and age, knowing what to expect can be a big help. Contact Ballantyne Vet today to learn more or get started scheduling your pet’s first visit!