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10 Things To Ask At Your First Vet Visit

You and your new pet are probably both pretty anxious about your first visit to the vet together; an unfamiliar place full of strangers and new objects. However, that initial appointment is a great opportunity for you to ask a professional any questions you may already have. You did lots of research before getting a pet, so this first vet visit can really help clear up any unknowns. Just getting your pet on the weighing scale is its own special event, so while your pet is being distracted by the loving attention (and possibly some treats from the staff), take a minute to review these important questions with your vet.

 

1. What should I feed my pet?

The food your vet recommends will depend on a combination of things: your pet’s health, age, and breed. Just like our own diets impact how we feel, it’s important to nail your dog’s nutrition - so be sure to ask about this and don’t just default to whatever brand has the best packaging. The vet will have advice on what to feed your pet, from their puppy/kitten to senior stages.

 

2. What vaccines does my pet need?

Recommendations for your pet’s vaccines will also be based on a few factors: which ones they’ve already received, their risk of being exposed to diseases, and their age. This info will help vets choose the right vaccines for your pet rather than overdoing it. The shelter or breeder you got your pet from will be able to give you all your furry friend’s up-to-date records. Your vet will be able to advise you on what vaccines your pet may need, but make sure to ask questions if you’re wondering why certain vaccines may, or may not, be needed.

 

3. How much exercise does my pet need? 

Some people plan their lives around going for runs or playing football, while others consider their walk from the sofa to the fridge to be ample cardio. The same thing goes for dogs and cats. Your vet can fill you in on where your pet falls on the spectrum, and like with many other questions on this list, it’s probably going to be informed by your pet’s breed, age, and health. For example, Border Collie puppies have lots more energy to burn than Yorkshire Terrier puppies. Similarly with cats, breeds like Abyssinians and Bombays are particularly energetic kitties (although most cats in the UK, especially those from rescue shelters, are mixed moggies). Don’t forget to keep in mind that young dogs and cats generally need to tread lightly until their bones fuse at around nine months, so if you’re walking your dog (or cat) perhaps consider the short route to begin with.

 

4. When should I spay or neuter my pet?

It’s usually recommended to have female pets spayed and male pets neutered as soon as possible. Often, this may be done by the breeder or shelter before you collect your pet. But exceptions will be made based on age, weight, and health condition (i.e. a kitten or puppy that’s too small shouldn’t go under anaesthesia until they’re bigger). Your vet will let you know when the right time is to go in for the snip.

 

5. How much should I save up to cover my pet’s health needs?

Even kittens and puppies that may already be vaccinated and spayed/neutered may still run into health issues at some point that will need your (and your wallet’s) attention. This is where pet insurance comes in to give you peace of mind. You may not see the value in a premium when your furry one is young and healthy, but that investment will pay for itself the day your puppy swallows a sock or senior cat develops a health concern. Your vet may be able to recommend which insurance companies they work with regularly and trust. If you choose not to get pet insurance, we recommend you put money aside each month to build up an emergency fund. You should never have to compromise your pet’s health care.

 

6. How can I get my pet to stop [any one of the maddening things kittens and puppies do]?

Even the most mild-mannered pet doesn’t come pre-programmed, so don’t hesitate to call in reinforcements if you need help with training advice from a behaviourist. Ask your vet to recommend a certified professional so you can nip behavioural issues in the bud before they become bigger issues.

 

7. Does my pet need preventative meds?

Preventing parasites also depends on your pet’s age, lifestyle, and exposure risk, but you need to consider the humans in your home and their risks, too. Children and immunocompromised people are more likely to get infected with a parasite that jumps from pets to humans. Most parasites, like fleas and ticks, can be prevented with monthly chewables or topicals.

 

8. What household items are dangerous to my pet?

We know that, as a new pet parent, one can easily lose sleep wondering if your last surviving succulent or your Yuzu-scented floor cleaner are an issue now that you have a cat or dog in the house. Rest easy because your vet can walk you through all the dos and don’ts you can think of. If you still find yourself mentally scanning through all your cupboards after the appointment, there are plenty of online resources, along with rescue charities and breeders, who could support you in the moment. You can also check out some articles here on how to cat-proof and dog-proof your home.

 

9. When is it safe to travel with my pet? One for the dog owners, although owners with adventurous cats take note too

Travelling with your dog can be lots of fun for you and them. There are a lot of new and exciting smells and things to explore. Before you head off, double-check with your vet what precautions you might need to take, i.e. having the right safety set up in the car, or adding a tick collar if you’ll be in an area, like fields or woodland, where ticks may be common. Similarly with cats, it’s now becoming more common for cats to be taken on walks with the lead. If your cat wants to give dogs a run (well, walk) for their money, make sure to also think about safety too - from a car safe cat carrier to perhaps a GPS tracker if they stray far from the path. 

Regardless of their exercise routine, your cat or dog will need to go to the vets for their routine check ups, so make sure to invest in a good car-safe travel carrier. 

 

10. How can I reach you if (when) I have more questions?

The odds of you getting all your questions answered during that first vet appointment are slim, but this is your first of many visits. Your vet is going to be an ally throughout your pet parenthood and they care about your pet’s wellbeing. Go ahead and ask them what the best way to reach them is when you have a question, but also make sure to locate the nearest 24/7 vets in case of an emergency after hours. If you have any non-urgent questions, you can also chat to our team of veterinary experts, for free, here.

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Written by:
Oneal Bogan
In partnership with:

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