Bringing a new dog home is exciting! Whether you got your dog from a shelter, friend, or a breeder, the first step to proper pet care is taking your pet to the veterinarian. The task can be overwhelming. Do you know what to expect?
Arriving early will help you and your dog avoid any stressful situations. Aim to arrive 15 minutes prior to your appointment to give you and your dog time to settle in, meet some of the staff and complete necessary paperwork.
“If you’re driving, acclimate your dog to the car prior to your appointment so that they don’t start off associating the car with vet visits,” said Dr. Jason Nicholas (Dr. J), Chief Medical Officer at Preventive Vet. “They’ll also be less likely to get carsick.”
Come Prepared with Questions
Writing down your questions can help ensure you don’t forget to ask the most important ones. If time is tight, you can also leave your questions with your vet and request they email you with answers later.
But what are the most important questions?
Dr. J recommends asking your vet what the optimal-species appropriate nutrition is for your dog. “This proactive step is the cornerstone of disease prevention and is a crucial cost-cutting strategy.”
Here are a few questions that vets wish you’d ask on your first visit, according to Chewy.com:
1. Is my dog at risk of any diseases?
2. How often should my dog be examined?
3. How can I prevent my puppy from getting sick?
4. When will they become housebroken? (how about a question about how to potty train instead?)
5. When will barking at night stop? Does my dog need vaccinations?
6. Does my dog need medications?
7. Does my dog have any dietary restrictions?
8. How often should I feed my dog?
9. Is my dog at a healthy weight?
10. How can I care for my dogs’ teeth?
11. When should I spay or neuter my dog?
12. Should I microchip my dog?
13. Do I need to clean my dog’s ears or clip their nails?
14. Do I need pet insurance?
Bring Plenty of Your Dog’s Favorite Treats
Comfort them! Bringing along their favorite treat is a great way to make your dog feel better and reward them for behaving so well in a new environment. Dog treats that come in pouches are a great option for on-the-go snacking.
Redbarn Protein Puffs, for example, are a great treat to travel to the vet with because of their size and low-calorie count. At only one calorie per treat, you can easily keep your dog happily distracted from their trip to the vet. They come in cheese and peanut butter flavors, so there's bound to be a flavor that your dog loves.
“Giving your dog plenty of treats, encouragement, and other positive reinforcement before, during, and after their visit will help to make it a more positive experience for them and therefore proactively help to smooth out future visits, too,” Dr. J said.
Know What to Bring
Make a checklist of what to bring before going to the Vet. According to Dr. J, this should include:
– Any adoption papers
– All “shot records”
– Any other paperwork you received from the shelter, rescue or breeder
– Any favorite toys or blankets that make your pet comfortable
– Don’t forget to bring encouragement and positive reinforcement
You can also buy and use some calming pheromones to help soothe and reassure your dog. Dr. J recommends using a pheromone collar that can help soothe and calm your dog for the first month of their new life, including at their first vet visit.
“If a collar isn’t used, pheromone spray can be used in the car or on your dog’s harness or carrier,” Dr. J said. “Just a spritz is all that’s needed, a little goes a long way and never spray directly on your dog.”
Treat Your Dog (and Yourself)
Follow up your visit to the vet with something fun! You can use one of your dog’s favorite treats, a play session in a new environment, or even a trip to your local hardware store. Take your dog somewhere they can have fun experiences and socialize with other people.