Puppy's first trip to the vet

Dog laying on floor in house

If you’ve just brought a new puppy home with you, it’s important to book an appointment to see the vet. Having a new puppy is an exciting time, but it comes with a great deal of responsibility. When they’re young, their body and immune system are not fully developed, which makes them more susceptible to illness, injury and diseases. During their first few trips to the vet, they’ll be checked over to make sure that they’re healthy and may be given preventative care, such as vaccinations and worming treatments. Find out more about what to expect from your first few trips to the vet and how you can help these visits go smoothly.

Choosing a vet for your puppy

It’s a good idea to find a veterinary practice for your puppy before they come to live with you. Your breeder, friends or family may be able to give you recommendations, or you could look at online reviews. It’s important to have a good relationship with your vet, so you will need to choose one that:
  • Has a good reputation
  • Is local, or one that you can easily get to - whether that’s by car or public transport
  • Provides an out-of-hours service or has provisions in place for late-night/weekend emergencies that you’re satisfied with

If you're looking for a vet practice near you, why not visit the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons' Find a vet page.

When should you take a puppy to the vet for the first time?

You should take your new puppy to the vet a few days after bringing them home. Although your breeder may have already taken them several times, it’s always good for your own vet to check for any health issues. Your vet can also look at what treatments they’ve already received and what they will need to keep them protected from parasites and infectious diseases.

Preparing for your visit to the vet

Your puppy may have already visited the vets several times before they come to live with you. Your breeder may have arranged for a check soon after they were born, and possibly a health check before going to their new homes, as well as other treatments, such as microchipping, worming and possibly vaccinations.

Your vet will need to know what treatments your puppy has had, so make sure to bring along any veterinary paperwork your breeder has given you. This could include:

  • Vaccination records
  • Records of weight gain, if your breeder has given this to you
  • What worming treatment your puppy has been given
  • Microchip details to log on their system
  • Any other veterinary records of treatments that they’ve been given
  • A list of any questions you have, especially if you have any concerns about your puppy’s health
  • What food your puppy is currently on and how much you’re giving them
  • Any paperwork you’ve been asked to fill out by your vet

As well as this you may need:

  • A dog carrier or crate to take your puppy in, or a blanket to wrap them in
  • Treats or toys to keep them distracted

Travelling to the vet with your puppy

The first few trips to the vet can sometimes be quite stressful, but there are plenty of things you can do to make it as stress-free as possible.

Make sure your puppy is secured in the car in a dog carrier or crate. Some dogs may suffer from car sickness, so try not to feed your puppy immediately before they travel. Dogs are very quick to make associations, so make sure you spend some time before and after visiting the vet getting used to travelling in the car. Doing this can prevent them from associating driving with going to the vet.

How to handle your new puppy in the waiting room

Veterinary waiting rooms can be busy and packed with other animals that most puppies won’t have met before. To make your visits to the vet as stress-free as possible, why not try to book an appointment for a quiet time of the day? The practice receptionist may be able to tell you when is best to bring in a puppy.

Remember, until a puppy has been fully vaccinated, they may be at risk of certain infectious diseases. While you’re waiting to see your vet, do not let any puppies go on the floor.

To keep your puppy safe until they’re vaccinated, you’ll need to keep them off the floor. You could carry them into the practice, but holding a wriggling puppy who wants to explore the new smells of the veterinary practice can be surprisingly difficult. You could bring your dog in a crate or something that they can be carried in.

To help keep them distracted in the waiting room, you could bring along:

  • Their favourite blanket
  • A toy for them to play with
  • Healthy treats

Making your puppy comfortable on the examination table

Being examined by a vet may be stressful for some dogs. If you stay calm and relaxed then your puppy will pick up on that and may be less concerned. Try giving your puppy the occasional treat to keep them distracted, or give them plenty of attention when they do something well, such as letting the vet touch them or standing for the vet. Try to make their experience of being on the examination table as positive as possible. Try bringing along their favourite blanket; the vet’s table will be hard and smell of disinfectant, so a familiar soft item can give them a bit of comfort and reassurance.

What to expect at your puppy's first vet appointment?

Your vet will want to check your puppy over and will be keen to give you advice on how to care for them.

Your vet may:

  • Check your puppy’s weight
  • Take their temperature
  • Check your puppy’s eyes, ears, nose, joints, nails, paws, coat, genitals, teeth and gums
  • Give advice on flea treatments and worming
  • Recommend a vaccination programme
  • Talk to you about diet, exercise, grooming and training
  • Offer you advice on neutering
  • Talk to you about identification, including ID tags and updating your puppy’s microchipping details

During this visit, feel free to talk to your vet about any concerns you have about how to care for your puppy.

Microchipping your new puppy

Microchipping is the most reliable way for a pet to be identified, should it ever go missing. In the UK, it is a legal requirement that dogs must be microchipped before they are eight weeks old. Breeders can only sell their puppies after eight weeks, so it is usually the responsibility of the breeder to get the puppy microchipped. The microchip is injected just under the skin between the shoulder blades and is no more painful than a usual injection. It can usually be done at any age, but is often given at around seven weeks. Once the puppy is microchipped, their unique microchip number must be registered with a microchipping database and the breeder’s contact details must be recorded. Once the puppy has been sold, the new puppy owner must change the contact details to their own.


Vaccinating your dog can protect them from important infectious diseases that can be harmful or can kill them. Puppies are usually more vulnerable to these illnesses, so it’s important that your dog is vaccinated at a young age. Your vet’s recommendation on when to have this done may depend on whether the mum is up to date on her vaccinations. Over time, your dog’s immunity to these illnesses can fade. To continue to keep them safe, your dog may need to have further booster vaccinations to help support their immunity. Vaccinations are usually first given at around 6-10 weeks, and booster injections are usually given around a month later. Some breeders may start the vaccination process while the puppy is still with them, while others may not.


Even if they’re born in a very clean environment, puppies can still be affected by intestinal worms. Puppies usually start their deworming treatment at an early age. There are different drugs and regimes, so it’s important to speak to your vet for advice. Responsible breeders will give these treatments while the puppies are still with them. It’s important that puppies continue to be regularly treated, about every 2 weeks whilst with the breeder. Breeders should pass on details of any worming medication the puppy has had. New owners can show this information to their vet, who can give them advice on how best to carry on treatment.

Fleas and ticks

Dogs can get fleas through contact with other animals or contact with fleas in the environment. The strong back legs of this insect enable it to jump from host to host or from the environment onto the host. Flea infestations can be unpleasant, causing itching and irritated skin.

Ticks rank second only to mosquitoes in infectious diseases spread to both pets and people. Ticks are small creatures that are closely related to spiders and can usually be found lurking in grassy areas, such as fields and meadows. Puppies may not be at risk of ticks until they begin to explore the outside world.

Puppies can be given medication to prevent and treat both ticks and fleas at around eight weeks old. New puppy buyers should ask their breeder whether these medications have been given and speak to their vet about what treatments they would recommend.


Neutering, sometimes called sterilisation, ‘de-sexing’ or ‘fixing’, is a common type of surgery that permanently stops your dog from being able to have puppies. In male dogs, this is known as castration and involves the testicles (testes) being removed. In females, the ovaries and usually the uterus are taken out, which is called spaying.

There are various pros and cons to neutering, but new puppy buyers can seek advice from their breeder and their vet to help them decide what to do.

How often should I take my dog to the vet?

After a new owner has taken their puppy for their full course of vaccinations and worming treatments, it’s best practice to take their dog for a check-up once a year. During these visits their dog can receive their annual booster vaccinations and have a general check-up to make sure that they’re fit and healthy.

Find a vet near you

If you're looking for a vet practice near you, why not visit the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons' Find a vet page.

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Think your dog may be affected?

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We are not a veterinary organisation and so we can't give veterinary advice, but if you're worried about any of the issues raised in this article, please contact your local vet practice for further information