How to Create a Successful First Vet Visit

Gator was 3 months old when he visited a new veterinarian. The exam went well, but it was quick and perhaps not as thorough as I expected. He received a booster for one of the required vaccines and a Rabies shot, and not much more. I couldn’t even remember the vet’s name when I got home. His behavior was brusque, and he seemed rushed and did not create a successful first vet visit for my puppy.

Gator did not have a successful first veterinary visitThe next visit was for infected ears, and the 6 month-old Weimaraner received an oral antibiotic and ear drops. Two months later following yet another infection, Gator visited this vet clinic again for the last time. The doctor proudly showed me his new machine for diagnosing bacterial infections in dogs’ ears. When he stuck the probe into my dog’s ear, Gator yelped and tried to get away. The vet yelled at him and Gator bared his teeth.

What followed was not a pretty sight. This so-called medical professional raised his fist at my dog, ready to hit him, yelling at him. Shocked, I grabbed my dog’s leash, spoke a few pithy words to the man and left the exam room before worse occurred. We found a new veterinarian the next day.

Do You Know What to Ask and What to Expect from Your First Vet Visit?

Create a successful first vet visit

Do you know what to expect from a veterinarian at your adult dog’s first medical exam? If you switch to a new vet, or if you adopt a new dog, building a good relationship with your pet’s new vet is important to the animal’s general health. You should also know what the vet will do to your fur-baby on that first visit and what questions you should ask.

The American Animal Hospital Association suggests you understand the importance of communication in choosing a new veterinarian for  your pet. Know what style of communication you prefer from the vet and his practice before deciding if one is a good fit for  you. Do you prefer a one-doctor practice or one with several medical professionals? Are their fees important to you? Communicate what you expect when you make the appointment if you want to create a successful first vet visit.

How important is the vet’s personality to you? After our horrible experience with the first one who treated my Weimaraner pup, I knew that the vet’s attitude toward my dog was crucial. If you have any concerns about the safety of particular vaccinations, discuss them with the vet.

We Found Success with Murphy’s New Vet

Recently, we took our current dog to a new veterinarian. I adopted Murphy just over a year ago, and his vet at that time was adequate but extremely expensive. Entrusting his medical care to a new healthcare provider required research and collecting recommendations from others to be certain I chose the right doctor.

Ask your neighbors and friends for the names of their veterinarians. You may want to ask them about their vets’ personalities and “way” with the animals. How do the technicians react with their pets? You can tell a lot about the entire practice by the way the staff behaves with you and the pets they treat.

Know before You Go if the Vet Meets Your Expectations

Before you make the dog’s first vet appointment, decide what exactly you want in your pet’s veterinarian. If your pet has ongoing medical issues, you will want to ascertain that the vet’s practice is set up with any necessary machines and/or labs to deal with them.

Stop by the office and see for yourself if the place is clean. Is the staff friendly and courteous? Are there many patients in the waiting room? If there are and they appear to be waiting past their appointment time, it could mean that the staff overbooks, and the veterinarian generally  runs way behind his schedule. If that matters to you, you may need to continue your search.

Ask your friends which veterinarian they like and why. Check with your social media sites. I received many recommendations for Dr. Vargas on my local

Prepare Ahead for Your Pet’s Successful First Vet Visit

Collect any past vet records to take with you, including his valid Rabies license. The new veterinarian will need those for your pet’s history. Try to take someone with you on the first visit, because there will be paperwork to complete. It can be difficult to hold onto your dog and write at the same time.

Decide ahead of time exactly what services you want or don’t want the vet to perform. Make a list so you don’t forget anything. That list should also include any questions you may want answered.

Every veterinary practice is run differently but in general, you can expect a first visit to include a bit more than future visits might as he or she gets to know your pet.

How the Assistant Works with the Vet

A good vet tech – or veterinary assistant – must love animals. A licensed tech usually administers medications and injections and prepares an animal for surgery procedures. His or her medical and clinical skills may be put to use in performing wellness exams, checking temperatures, administering lab tests and generally supporting the veterinarian.

The vet assistant performs an equally important job in the vet’s office by maintaining the clinic rooms, restraining and handling patients, bathing and feeding those that require such services. They may ask the history of the animal for the vet and check its weight.

What Happens When Your Dog Meets the Vet

Murphy's successful first veterinary visit
Murphy’s First Visit with Dr. Vargas

I expect a good veterinarian will greet me and greet my dog. You can tell a lot about the vet in the way he or she interacts with your pet. One who comes in and immediately begins examining the dog could be asking for trouble, should the animal object.

Murphy’s new veterinarian, Dr. Mauricio Vargas, entered the room and introduced himself to me. Then he turned and began talking to my dog, while he touched him lightly in various places. Murphy relaxed and enjoyed the attention as he got to know this man.

An Annual Exam Includes a Head to Toe Inspection

Vet tech, Julieth, held Murphy while Dr. Vargas began his examination. The first step was a dental exam.

A dog's first vet visit should include a dental exam

As the doctor worked, he included me every step of the way.  He explained what he was doing and why, as he showed me the brown tartar on some of Murphy’s teeth and explained the best way to get rid of that.

The exam progressed from my dog’s teeth to his ears. Dr. Vargas declared them clean and free of infection and moved on.

After working through Murphy’s little body, checking his muscle tone as he looked for possible tumors or other abnormalities, Dr. Vargas took a fecal sample.

A fecal sample is obtained during a dog's first vet visit.

Other Tests Performed During Murphy’s Exam

Murphy’s temperature was taken, his required vaccinations administered, and blood was drawn for a heartworm test.  An annual heartworm test should be required for all dogs who live in a zone where mosquitoes thrive. Every dog who lives in those zones should take heartworm preventatives.

Dr. Vargas questioned me about Murphy’s diet which pleased me, because he was our first ever veterinarian who seemed clued in to what pet foods contain good ingredients and what should be avoided.

More importantly, Dr. Vargas talked to Murphy during the entire exam.  The dog seemed fascinated by the attention he received and didn’t object to anything done to him.

A Successful First Vet Visit Results from Prior Planning

To recap, once you decide on the perfect veterinarian for you and your pet, collect your dog’s records, Rabies tag, list of questions for the vet, and any medications your pet is taking to accompany you to the appointment. Try to bring someone with you to hold onto your dog while you deal with the paperwork and relax, knowing your fur-baby will be in good hands.

Murphy visited Dr. Vargas a month later after our cat scratched his eye. Yes, Murphy deserved it but cat scratches cannot be ignored, and my little boy was in pain when we walked into the vet’s office. The doctor immediately put Murph at ease, and I could see the dog visibly relax as he recognized Dr. Vargas. This was clearly the result of creating a successful first vet visit.

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