What to Expect at Your

Puppy’s First Vet Visit.

Welcome to the Pet Medic Hospitals family!

Our team is so excited to meet your new puppy. New puppies come with a lot of fun but also some interesting challenges. We have put together this welcome email containing a lot of our recommendations when it comes to keeping your new family member happy and healthy. We hope that by providing this information prior to your appointment, we have more time to focus on any questions or concerns you may have.


When vaccinating young puppies it is important to make sure the last distemper virus/parvovirus vaccine is given at or beyond 16 weeks of age. This is due to a relatively high rate of parvovirus in our community and declining levels of protection from maternal antibodies. It is unclear exactly when maternal antibodies dwindle, but sometime between 8 and 16 weeks. Because of this, our typical vaccine schedule for puppies is:

● 8 weeks of age – Distemper virus/parvovirus
● 12 weeks of age – Distemper virus/parvovirus and oral bordetella. The bordetella or kennel
cough vaccine is good for 1 year from the date of administration
● 16 weeks of age – Distemper virus/parvo and rabies vaccine. Both vaccines are good for 1 year
from the date of administration Vaccine schedules can be modified slightly based on any previous vaccines given. It is not the number of vaccines that is important, but rather when the last vaccine was given. We give vaccines every 4 weeks to try to minimize the risk of contracting parvovirus.
Please feel free to refer to the following link for more information about vaccinations for puppies:

Vaccine Information for Dogs, Cats, Puppies and Kittens – Veterinary Partner

Importance of Fecal Sampling and Deworming

At the first appointment we will recommend deworming with a broad spectrum dewormer (pyrantel). This will help to treat many different types of intestinal parasites that can be present in a puppy’s intestinal tract. Many dog mothers shed parasites in their feces or even their milk during the stress of giving birth and nursing puppies. This does not mean your puppy came from an unclean environment, but rather that parasites have found a way to outsmart the otherwise clean environments. Because pyrantel covers most, but not all, intestinal parasites we also recommend sending out a stool sample to look for other parasites, particularly single celled organisms like Giardia or coccidia. This will allow us to fully evaluate for parasites and treat them as necessary. We recommend that you collect a fresh stool sample from your puppy and bring it with you to your appointment so that we may send it to the lab for testing.



Puppy diets are important. They have a unique blend of nutrients to allow puppies to grow appropriately. This is particularly important for large and giant breed dogs (i.e., adult weights anticipated to be above 50 pounds). Many companies have large-breed puppy foods available to ensure appropriate bone and muscle development. See the link below for more information about nutrition and exercise for puppies:

Nutrition and Exercise for Growing Puppies – Veterinary Partner

In recent years there has been controversy regarding BEG (boutique, exotic, and grain-free) diets. These diets have been linked to a type of heart disease called dilated cardiomyopathy. This heart disease does not always cause changes that can be picked up on a routine physical exam and can even cause sudden death. For this reason, our veterinarians recommend feeding a diet that has passed AAFCO feeding trials for growth. Some of our favorites include Purina ProPlan, Royal Canin puppy food and Hill’s Science Diet. Each company has a variety of diets for different sized puppies. If your puppy has special nutritional needs, please feel free to talk to our veterinarians regarding these concerns as they can help you find an appropriate diet for your puppy. There has also been a recent increase in interest in feeding raw diets. For more information on the risks of BEG diets: https://veterinarypartner.vin.com/default.aspx?pid=19239&id=8989590 https://weethnutrition.wordpress.com/2019/07/02/update-on-diet-associated-dilated-cardiomyopathy-july-2-2019/ Consider using plain Cheerios as training treats. They are low in calories and since they have no protein or fats, dogs of all ages tolerate them well.

House breaking

There are many different ways to go about housebreaking and some puppies learn faster than others. Here are some tips that many of us have found to be beneficial:
– Potty breaks should occur every 1-2 hours, particularly 20 minutes after eating or drinking, after
waking from a nap, or after playing.
– Supervision or confinement at all times. This means direct supervision to watch for that sudden stop when playing or starting to sniff that can indicate your puppy needs to eliminate.
– Praise and treats right after eliminating. This means bringing treats outside with you. Puppies are smart and if given the treat after they come in, they will go outside and not potty just to come inside to get a treat.
– If you catch your new puppy in the act of eliminating where you do not want them too, a quick sharp “no” and then pick them up and move them to an appropriate spot. If they finish going, reward that behavior as well.
– If you see a mess, but did not witness it happen, you need to clean it up without making a fuss. Most puppies will not understand why you are being so noisy and sometimes they interpret “noisy” as a good thing.

See this page from Hill’s regarding potty training for more information.

Crate training

Crate training can be incredibly important for your puppy. It provides a safe space for them to get away if they get overwhelmed. It provides a safe space if you are not able to 100% supervise them while they are still learning the rules of the house, like housebreaking. It gets them used to being in small spaces, which helps if they ever need to be hospitalized (spay or neuter surgery, routine dental cleaning, or illness). Not all dogs will need to stay in a crate when they are not supervised, but it helps to get them used to it as a puppy.

The AKC has a guide for crate training that can be found here

Socialization, including learning to be alone

Puppies, just like people, can benefit from socialization. The critical period of socialization closes around 13-14 weeks of age. It is unfortunate that this coincides with the highest parvovirus risk as well. Fortunately, there have been studies showing that the risk of parvo is not increased by socialization classes. Most of these classes require that puppies have their initial vaccines and a negative fecal exam. Dr. Francher particularly likes Smarty Paws Canine Coaching (www.smartypaws.com)

Benefits of Spay and Neuter

Surgically altering your pet (spay for females, neuter for males) has come under review more recently. New retrospective studies have shown that some breeds benefit from late (1 year or later) spays and neuters. It is not as clear cut as saying all large breeds should wait and small breeds should not. This can be discussed further with your veterinarian during your visit.

There are many benefits to spaying and neutering your dog as well. Spaying female dogs nearly eliminates the risk for developing pyometra, a life-threatening infection of the uterus. Pyometra requires an emergency spay and cannot typically be treated medically. While this is typically in older animals after a heat cycle, there have been reports of some dogs developing this infection after their first heat cycle. Spaying before or after the first heat cycle also can minimize or eliminate the risk of developing mammary (breast) cancer in dogs as well.

Male dogs benefit from neutering, as it eliminates their risk of developing testicular cancer and prostatic enlargement, reduces roaming and other unwanted male behaviors. Testicular cancer can occur in any intact male dog, but is particularly common in dogs that have testicles that do not end up in the scrotum (cryptorchid). Many intact male dogs will try to get out of the house and yard in search of a female in heat. This can increase their risk for getting hit by a car or getting lost. Neutering when unwanted male behaviors, like mounting and marking in the house, first start can reduce or eliminate those behaviors.

Dental Care

Just like our teeth need care, our pets’ teeth do too! Brushing your pet’s teeth daily helps to reduce bacterial loads in the mouth and wipes away plaque preventing tartar build up. Please ask about dental care if you have any questions. Please be sure to avoid any chews that you cannot make a dent in with your nail. If it’s too hard (like hard plastic, Nylabones, hooves, antlers, bones, bully sticks), it can, and often will, break your pet’s teeth. Those teeth then need treatment that can include a root canal (with a boarded dentist) or even extraction. We recommend treats with the Veterinary Oral Health Council seal of acceptance (http://www.vohc.org/VOHCAcceptedProductsTable_Dogs.pdf).

By age three years, 80% of dogs will have periodontal disease. We recommend most dogs have their first cleaning and comprehensive cleaning between 1-3 years of age.

Wellness Plans

Wellness Plans offer an affordable way to cover preventative care for your new puppy. We offer Wellness Plans (https://petmedic.vet/wellness-plans/) that spread out the cost of preventative care, such as vaccines, deworming, fecal exams, and even the spay or neuter surgery over 12 monthly payments (please note that medications and other consumable expenses for the surgery are not covered). Our Wellness Plans also include unlimited consultations! Wellness Plans differ from pet insurance in that they include specific preventative care services, while pet insurance is generally used for injury and illness visits. When your pet has a Wellness Plan and a pet insurance policy, they have 360° coverage for all of their healthcare needs!


Pet insurance has been around for a while and the industry is growing. Our doctors recommend pet insurance for most young pets, starting before any health conditions arise. There are currently no pet insurance companies that offer coverage for pre-existing conditions. Pet insurance differs from human insurance in many ways, the most notable is how they pay for claims. Usually the pet owner pays 100% of the veterinary invoice to the animal hospital and then submits a claim to their pet insurance company for reimbursement. Trupanion (https://trupanion.com/) works that way also, but additionally offers the option to pay the animal hospital directly, which leaves the pet owner only responsible for paying their portion of the invoice up front. Ask our staff about a Trupanion 30 day free trial at your next appointment.

Please bring up any concerns or questions that you may have with your veterinarian at your first visit. We look forward to helping your family decide what is best for you and your new puppy!