Preparing For Your Pet's First Vet Appointment

Besides their owner, a good veterinarian is the most important human in a dog or cat’s life. This health professional has the knowledge not only to treat any existing ailments your pet may have, but to help you prevent many diseases, behavioral problems, and pesky parasites that may plague your cat or dog in the future. It truly pays to take the time to find a qualified, friendly vet who is the perfect match for you and your furry friend. After all, this is a relationship that will last a lifetime! Your pet’s first visit to the vet need not be stressful. If you take some time to prepare for that first visit, and follow some easy pointers, you can eliminate, or at least decrease, much of the anxiety that may arise for both you and your pet.

Your Cat’s First Vet Appointment

Shopping for the right veterinary care for your cat or kitten may be one of the most important choices you make to ensure your feline friend lives a long, happy life! The prospect doesn’t have to be a daunting one; the main key is to be prepared, and give yourself the time necessary to “shop around” for the right match for both you and your cat. One of the best methods of finding a few good candidates is to ask for referrals from animal-loving friends, or from your local animal shelter or Humane Society. For peace of mind, it’s best to call ahead and request a meeting with any potential vets before you commit your animal to their care! This will quell any misgivings you may or may not have about a particular facility, as well as give you some time to ask your prospective new veterinarian a few crucial questions.. You are trusting the health and well-being of a loved family member to the care of someone with whom you aren’t personally familiar, so take the time to make sure you both see eye to eye on animal care issues that are important to you, and that you feel comfortable with the doctor, as well as the facility in which he/she works.

Taking kitty to the vet for the first time is stressful for both the cat and her owner! There are a few things you can do to mentally prepare and organize yourself for the initial visit. Also, you can decrease a lot of the anxiety and stress that your cat can feel during a first vet visit by taking some time in the days leading up to the appointment to prepare your pet in a few different ways. Getting your cat familiar with his/her cat carrier is a great way to start. You might even graduate to taking a few short car rides with your cat safely tucked away in the carrier in the seat next to you, and try giving her a treat after each drive. Also, try getting kitty used to being touched in areas like her ears, paws, and belly if she’s not used to being handled this way. There are lots of other techniques to soothe stressed cats and ease feline tension that will no doubt come in handy during this time.

There are a few crucial things to bring along to your cat’s first vet visit. A secure cat carrier is very important, along with any vaccination records you may have if you’ve adopted your cat from a rescue league or humane society that may have administered prior medical treatment. A fecal sample may also be required so that your veterinarian can check for worms and other parasites. To be best prepared, ask your vet beforehand what he or she needs you to bring along in order to give the most thorough care to your pet. You can also read through a basic online checklist to make sure you haven’t missed anything important. Something soothing to your cat, such as a favorite treat or toy will also make the experience go a lot more pleasantly.

 After you arrive for your appointment, you can count on your veterinarian asking some basic questions about your cat’s vaccinations, eating and drinking habits, general history and temperament. It helps to be prepared for these standard questions, which are similar to those you’d fill out via paperwork at the doctor’s office or emergency room. Likewise, you should also come prepared with a list of questions to ask your vet. Try keeping a record of any unusual behavior you’ve witnessed at home, or a list of general questions regarding the particular breed of cat you’ve adopted. Now’s the time to get all those nagging questions resolved, so don’t be afraid to speak up! There are many other questions that are important to ask to ensure your cat is getting the best check-up possible, so try your best to be thorough and prepared.

A cat’s first veterinary appointment generally follows a predictable schedule. Your cat will be given a basic hands-on physical examination that’s not unlike a human physical checkup, and your vet should tell you about your pet’s general health, dental or weight issues he or she might find while examining your cat’s coat, eyes, ears, body and teeth. Your vet will also either administer vaccinations, or discuss or set up a vaccination schedule with you if kitty is too young for them yet. Tests for Feline Leukemia may be administered, especially if you’ve adopted a cat or kitten that has spent some part of its life living outdoors. You and your vet may also talk about when to have your cat spayed or neutered at this first vet appointment.

Don’t forget to reward your cat with a treat and a long petting session for being so brave at the veterinarian! Not only will it help to further calm any jittery nerves brought on by an unfamiliar environment, but kitty will learn to associate a visit to the doctor with food and rewards…kind of like giving a child a lollipop at the pediatrician!


Your Dog’s First Vet Appointment

Choosing the right veterinarian for your dog is extremely important, as health problems genetically associated with different breeds are more likely to arise in dogs than in cats. It’s important to ascertain whether or not your prospective vet is familiar with the breed of dog you have chosen, and any and all medical problems that are common to that breed. A vet may have part of their team that specializes in these ailments if he or she is more of a general practitioner, and this is something you’ll want to know as well, should a problem of this nature arise. These are probably the most important questions to ask when looking for a vet, but you will also want to inquire about credentials, experience, emergency availability, and any other requirements that are important to you as a dog owner.

It’s important to take a little time to prepare your dog prior to his first vet visit, as all the new sights, sounds, and smells can cause anxiety in a dog. There are many things you can do to help make a first vet visit a calmer, more pleasant experience. Taking your dog to meet the vet and get used to the veterinary facility is something a lot of dog owners neglect to do, but this simple meet and greet can work wonders to make your dog (not to mention your vet) feel more relaxed at the initial check-up. Familiarize your dog with riding in the car, if he isn’t already. Another good idea is to thoroughly exercise your dog right before the first vet visit, as he will be easier to control when he’s tired, even if he does become agitated.

The most important thing to bring along to Fido’s first veterinary visit is the right kind of leash: a short leash is best suited to keeping him in control in what may be a busy, unfamiliar environment. If you have a puppy or a smaller dog, you may want to consider crating him, especially if the puppy is not housebroken or the dog has any behavioral problems that may be a nuisance to other dogs or dog owners in the waiting area. Also, ask your vet ahead of time if you’ll need to bring a fecal sample so he or she can check for and effectively treat worms and other parasites. Lastly, if you have any prior medical information pertaining to your dog, such as any kennel vaccinations or a treatment that was administered prior to your adoption now is the time to find them and bring them to your veterinarian.

Once at the vet you can expect to engage in a little Q and A with the veterinarian. He or she will probably ask general questions about your dog’s temperament, eating habits, activity level, any training issues you may be having, and any pertinent health-related questions. This first vet visit is very important for many reasons, and you should take this golden opportunity to come prepared and ask any and all questions you may have about training issues, behavioral problems, breed-specific ailments, or a general list of questions that are helpful to ask on a first vet visit. It will help to jot these questions down prior to the office visit. You have your vet’s full attention, so now’s the time to get your questions answered!

What to expect from this first visit is fairly routine. Your veterinarian will give your dog a brief physical exam, checking his eyes, ears, coat, teeth and paws. He or she may also need to administer any necessary vaccinations to safeguard your pet against diseases such as rabies and distemper. Your vet will also want to check your pet’s stool for worms, and his coat for fleas, and then administer or recommend any necessary treatments. Finally, you and your vet will probably take a few minutes to set up a vaccination schedule, arrange an appointment to spay or neuter your dog, or simply schedule your dog’s next general check-up.

Don’t forget to finish off the veterinary visit by giving your dog a treat and taking him for a run in the park or to participate in some other type of activity he enjoys. This will help your pet associate a visit to the vet with a reward, and will make the next visit go more smoothly!