How To Prepare for Your First Vet Visit

How To Prepare for Your First Vet Visit

One of the greatest assurances in the “pet ownership journey” is a stable veterinarian relationship. We should all be very grateful for the fantastic veterinarians in this world. I love and adore our pup. I mean, he is one of my babies (so to speak), but I am also aware that his biological makeup is not from my genealogy. I honestly have minimal understanding of how his insides and outsides are supposed to function! It can be daunting to consider this limitation when bringing a new animal into the family but don’t fret. Attending your first vet visit will often help calm those feelings of unpreparedness. To assist, even more, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite tips to ensure the visit is super successful.

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How To Prepare for Your First Vet Visit

1. Get local recommendations

Finding the right fit for your dog’s medical needs might take some time. You’ll have better luck if you ask around before choosing a practice. The breeder, shelter, or rescue you find your companion at may be able to point you in the right direction. If not, there is probably an online group that you can join for insight. Platforms such as NextDoor and Facebook local community pages are an excellent place to check! If you prefer a more personal touch, simply take a walk around nearby parks and ask other dog owners there. Most folks are pretty eager to advise on these important pet ownership matters. Remember, you will want a vet that’s only a short drive away. In the beginning, you’ll be visiting them more often, and being close in case of an emergency is a priority. There are plenty of offices to choose from so try not to be overwhelmed. Start by making a list of recommendations and look them up (or contact them) when you’re ready.

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Due to the new Department of Transportation (DOT) policy, Emotional Support Animals are NO longer allowed to fly in airplane cabins for free. However, Psychiatric Service Dogs are eligible.

How To Prepare for Your First Vet Visit

2. Schedule at a conducive time of day

Owners are either morning people, or not so much. Coffee and some resolve can often remedy human morning blues, but it’s not that easy for your canine pal. Dogs usually have a better temperament (or tolerance) at certain times of the day. It would be helpful to key into these times over the initial weeks with your new roomie! By doing this, you can schedule your first vet visit when your dog is less likely to feel agitated or resistant. A calm pup allows for a more focused owner.

3. Bring all the necessary “supplies”

  • You will have many questions, and we all know that answers can be hard to remember. For this reason, bring along a pen and paper (or at least keep the notes app open on your phone) to jot down the information that your vet shares! If you are unsure what questions you should even be asking, check out this guide put together by The Dog People
  • To help your veterinarian get to know your pet’s medical history, bring your adoption papers from the shelter or breeder. These forms will show which vaccines your pup has already had and any pertinent facts regarding their health status. Additionally, bring a list of medications, supplements, and current food your pet is on. Be as detailed as possible to help your vet navigate overall dietary guidance should any mood, behavioral, or tummy troubles arise. 
  • For extra “be good” incentives during this unfamiliar time, bring treatos! Treats can help any uncooperative pup obey long enough for a productive exam.
How To Prepare for Your First Vet Visit
  • If you’ve added a young puppy to your family, you should consider bringing accident supplies. Pee-pee pads, old towels, and some sanitizing wipes are never a bad idea. A familiar item, such as a toy or blanket, might also help calm nervous bladders while your puppy gets used to a new environment. 
  • Even if your dog is older and relatively well trained, don’t forget the leash. Though chances are your older dog has experienced plenty of vet visits, this particular office will be new. The doggo doctor is usually not a favorite spot to hang out, so ensure restraint is considered for safety, security, and liability reasons. 
How To Prepare for Your First Vet Visit

4. Additional guidance for sanity sake

Your pet would benefit from reassurance during the visit. Still, if you are easily rattled by medical environments or squeamish around needles, you should probably step out of the room. Just as pets pick up the comforting vibes, they pick up on anxiety and trepidation too. Sometimes it is best to let your vet bond with your pup while you wait outside. NO judgment passed here. Lots of people experience stress in these situations. The most important thing is making sure your dog has access to the care he needs. Leave the doctoring to the professionals and tap into some extra long cuddle time when you get back home! 

Pro-Tip: It’s been suggested to snap a photo of your pup and new vet during the visit. Print the picture and place it somewhere visible. Reinforcing paw-sitive feelings towards your new family friend can help your dog associate paw-sitive notions when the “v” word arises next. Maybe that’s setting the bar a little high, but everything is worth a try, right?

Outside of your FIRST visit, there are overall expectations to consider when picking a veterinarian to call your own.

Every practice is different and each has its own set of guidelines, HIPPA regulations, and contact protocols. We have had vets who welcomed emails and even text messages from their furry patient’s owners. After all, pictures are worth 1,000 words when trying to explain an unfamiliar animal-related situation! We have also seen vets who strictly adhere to in-person consultations or over the phone triage calls when necessary. Make sure to ask what is permissible ahead of time. That way, you aren’t disappointed in your veterinarian’s availability. If you tend to worry more, you probably want to seek an office with more fluid arrangements. You should also consider the practice’s capabilities, such as whether they house larger medical equipment at their location. If your pup should need an x-ray or ultrasound, would they be able to accommodate that or have to refer you elsewhere? 

How To Prepare for Your First Vet Visit

Lastly, you’ll want to remember that veterinarian care can sometimes be costly. Ask the office you’re considering about their payment plan options and price points for standard care, emergency care, and medications. We have found that private vets are usually cheaper than nationwide places like Banfield. Smaller, neighborhood clinics are generally less expensive than the larger specialty hospitals. The best bet is to do some research in your local area. You’ll want to choose the office that makes you most comfortable without ignoring the budget either. We all hope for healthy animals, but nobody can predict the future. 

We hope that you find this information valuable. We are so excited for your new journey into pet ownership and are here for you along the way! If your new companion assists you with a mental or physical disability, make sure you know your accommodation rights.

By qualifying for an emotional or psychiatric service animal, you can avoid significant housing and travel complications. Visit our website to learn more and to connect with a licensed medical professional.

ESA or PSA Certification?

The benefits of an Emotional Support Animal certification and a Psychiatric Service Dog certification are drastically different. Fortunately for you, American Service Pets’ network of active board certified doctors can help you find the right path to certification. To find out whether you need an ESA or PSD letter, take our easy, three-step Pet Owner Survey!


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Attention: Due to the new Department of Transportation (DOT) policy, Emotional Support Animals are NO longer allowed to fly in airplane cabins for free. However, Psychiatric Service Dogs are eligible. Click here to see if you qualify.