It can feel overwhelming starting out with a new puppy. At Carriage Crossing Animal Hospital, we are here to help keep your new friend safe and help you learn to meet all their needs. To simplify your first visit to our veterinary hospital, while still keeping your new puppy healthy and happy, we recommend 7 goals for the visit.

1) Share your puppy’ history

When we start your puppy’s first visit, we collect a health history which includes any physical signs of illness, including coughing and sneezing, vomiting and diarrhea. Of course, we will also want to find out what socialization, vaccines and deworming were started by the breeder. We also need to know where your puppy sleeps, their bathroom habits, nutrition, and your plans for training, exercise, travel, and any contacts with immunocompromised persons so we can anticipate and prevent any risks to your puppy or your family.

2) Comprehensive veterinary physical exam

Our first physical exam prioritizes looking for any congenital problems such as an umbilical hernia, heart murmur, or a cleft palate. We listen to their heart and lungs and look at their eyes and ears, feel their tummy and check their legs. Through all this we keep the visit Fear Free™ by feeding a steady stream of puppy food and giving frequent breaks. We also check for a microchip and try to get an adorable photo.

3) Fecal parasite testing

Fecal parasites are common in puppies and we have no one preventative medication to control them all. To identify infections we need to test their stool multiple times in their first year of life. Submitting a stool sample for testing at our reference lab is an important goal for your puppy’s first visit.

4) Parasite prevention

Even though we are testing, we still need to keep your puppy safe from new parasitic infections. Internal parasites include worms and heartworm, external parasites include fleas, ticks, ear mites and mange. Taking home a prescription that protects your puppy from both internal and external parasites is an important goal for your puppy’s first visit. 

5) Feeding recommendations

As part of our exam, we will assess your puppy’s body condition to ensure they are not thin or overweight, check their current diet is complete and balanced for your puppy’s growth, and recommend a daily feeding amount in cups or grams. We recommend that puppies should eat meals three times a day, and that treats should make up no more than 10% of their daily calories. Food changes should be made gradually and trendy new diets are best avoided in puppies.

6) Behaviour advice

We will let you know your puppy’s fear, anxiety and stress level during their visit and discuss ways to lower it at future visits. We recommend attending dog training classes with your puppy that reward good behaviour with food, and coach you together to help build an understanding relationship. We talk about socialization as different from skills training, and emphasize the importance of giving your puppy confidence building experiences with new people, places and animals as often as possible in their first four months.

7) Vaccination boosters

The vaccines given to puppies are traditionally divided into “core” vaccines DA2PP (distemper adenovirus 2, parainfluenza and parvovirus) and Rabies. Other vaccines are sometimes called “lifestyle” vaccines although we find even the most exclusively indoor chihuahuas are exposed to these risks. These include vaccines against bordetella (also known as kennel cough), and leptospirosis, a common infection dogs and people can catch from infected urine. The timing of these vaccines is important to ensure there are no gaps in protection, and to reduce the risk of a vaccine reaction by splitting boosters into multiple appointments.

You will have lots of questions and we will have lots of information to share with you which is why it is great our team are going to see you frequently as your puppy grows.