Making sure your puppy’s first visits to the vet are as fun as possible will prevent them from being scared in the future.
There are a number of reasons why a puppies first vet visit may be a little overwhelming:
A veterinary practice smells strange and unusual from the perspective of a puppy.
There may be other animals in the waiting area.
Painful or uncomfortable procedures (for example, injections) happen at the vets, so puppies may learn to be fearful when being taken to the vets.
Creating an positive experience from the very first vet visit (for example, giving treats before and after the vaccination) can make future visits stress-free.
What should I expect from my puppy’s first visits to the vets?
Puppies will need to be taken to the vets for their microchip and primary vaccination course, as well as to discuss other preventative healthcare treatments. Vet visits may also be required if the puppy appears unwell or there are any concerns about a puppy’s health.
Veterinary clinics are kept very clean and there may have been stressed or unwell animals in the practice prior to the puppy’s visit. This means that there are a whole host of unusual smells from the puppy’s perspective. In addition, the vet staff will often be wearing uniform and PPE which the puppy may never have seen before. There may be other animals waiting in the reception area too. All of this means that even arriving at the vets can be quite an overwhelming experience for a young puppy!
Once in the consult room, vet staff will need to handle and examine the puppy using equipment such as stethoscopes, and injections are likely to be given.
How can I ensure my puppy’s first vet visits are positive?
Creating a positive association with the vet practice, staff and handling/treatment procedures from the start helps to build solid foundations for stress-free visits in future. Any negative experiences during the puppy’s first 12 weeks of life are often remembered long-term, so go prepared with favourite treats and toys. LickiMats smeared with wet puppy food or natural yoghurt provide the perfect distraction whilst the vet or nurse are examining or vaccinating so the puppy shouldn’t even notice anything being done! If a puppy needs to stay in the vets for any reason, take their own bed or a blanket smelling of home with them.
If you have any concerns about how your puppy might cope at the vets, speak to your vet practice before your appointment. For example, if your puppy is worried about other dogs, they might be able to book an appointment at the end of the day when there are no other dogs in the clinic, or suggest you wait outside and they will call you in when the vet or nurse are ready.
If you want more advice and tips on making your puppy’s first visit to as positive and relaxing as possible, feel free to arrange an online discussion with one of the MyDogDoc vet team!