You got a new puppy! Now what?

Congratulations on your adorable new companion!

Your veterinarian is your partner in making sure your puppy gets the best start possible, as these early months of life are extraordinarily important in determining the health, behavior, and well-being of the adult dog your pet will become.

Below is information on what you can expect when you bring your pet in for his or her initial puppy exams. You will also find links to help you make the best care and training decisions for your brand new family member.

First Puppy Visit

  1. Overall health: The veterinarian will check for congenital issues, soundness of the body, and signs of infectious issues.
  2. Immunizations based on risk factors: While all puppies need an initial series of core vaccinations for certain diseases, there are some that may be optional depending upon the environment and other factors. For example, unless there is a chance of exposure due to travel, we do not recommend the Lyme vaccine in our part of the country.
  3. Parasite Prevention: You’ll have a discussion on both external (fleas and ticks) and internal (intestinal worms and heartworm) parasites. You can also talk to your veterinarian about other types of parasite prevention based on your dog’s lifestyle and environment.
  4. Feeding/Nutrition: There are almost as many dog foods on the market as there are breeds of dogs! Determining what’s right for your pet based on age, breed, and nutritional needs is an important decision.

Second Exam (12-14 Weeks)

  1. Health assessment: The veterinarian can determine if your dog’s growth and development is on track and if any future health issues are developing.
  2. Immunizations: Your puppy will receive his or her second set of core “puppy shots” at this visit. This is when your dog will likely have the rabies vaccination to meet the State of Texas rabies vaccination requirements.
  3. Parasite prevention: Your puppy will need a second round of deworming at this visit for intestinal parasites if intestinal parasites were found on the initial exam and no additional deworming was done prior to adoption. We will also continue any heartworm, flea, and tick prevention started at the first puppy visit.
  4. Feeding/Nutrition: Your pet’s nutritional needs may change during this important growth period, and your pet’s calorie intake make need adjustment depending upon activity level.

Third Exam (16-18 Weeks)

  1. Health Assessment: Checking for appropriate growth and development
  2. Immunizations: The last set of core “puppy shots” will be administered at this visit. This may differ if you and your veterinarian have determined a different vaccination plan for your pet based on health, size, or other requirements specific to your puppy.
  3. Parasite Prevention: Heartworm, flea, and tick prevention will be continued at this visit. After the last puppy visit, you will need to continue to monitor your puppy’s weight so we can adjust dosing for parasite prevention as your puppy grows. All heartworm and flea prevention should be continued year-round in our part of the country. Tick prevention should be used as needed based on your puppy’s specific environmental exposure.
  4. Preparation for spay/neuter: Unless you are planning to breed your dog, surgical sterilization is part of your responsibility as a pet owner, and has many health benefits for both males and females. Males and females can be altered as soon as they are healthy and of weight to safely undergo anesthesia. We generally recommend sterilization surgery around 6 months of age for small and medium-breed dogs. However, waiting until your large or giant breed puppy is full-grown at around 14-18 months of age is best for their skeletal development.
  5. Microchipping: This small transmitter is your pet’s ticket home should they become lost. This can be placed during the last puppy visit. However, while insertion usually causes very little pain, many pet parents opt to have this done while their pet is anesthetized for spay/neuter surgery.

Other things to consider while raising your new puppy are listed below.

Please bring up any questions or problems with your veterinarian and veterinary technician when you bring your puppy for his or her routine puppy visits.

  1. Housebreaking: For most dogs, this can be accomplished fairly easily, but it does require initial diligence.
  2. Appropriate behavior/Socialization: If you start young, you can keep many unwanted behaviors from ever developing and training will be much easier. Socialization—introducing your dog to new people, places, and other animals—is among the most important things you can do for a young dog.
  3. Environment: Some puppies need lots of stimulation, or they can become bored and destructive. Most need a safe place to get away from irritants or frightening things. Make sure you know how to create the right environment for your puppy’s needs.
  4. Bathing/Grooming: A bath and a quick brushing, or regular full-on grooming? Ask our veterinarians what your puppy will need now and when they’re grown to keep them healthy and happy.
  5. Pet Health Insurance: Now is the time to sign your dog up for veterinary insurance! This coverage is significantly less expensive if you obtain it early in your dog’s life, and will help cover many major veterinary expenses that occur when they’re older.

“Took my Bengal cat there for UTI and they were very fast and took great care of Lexi. My cat usually meows the whole time she sees a vet but was calm and never meowed once.”

Cynthia W.