Article by Veterinarian Sanja Polz
It’s an exciting time when a little puppy suddenly enters our lives. Soon the question arises: when should you take the puppy to the vet?
Many surgeries now offer introductory visits. During these sessions, the puppy gets the chance to familiarise itself with the new environment and unfamiliar smells in the clinic. Ideally, the puppy should not be treated during this visit. The puppy gets to experience fun and games, while the owner gets answers to possible questions. Thus, for the dog, the first impression – which we know tends to be the most important one – is a good one. This makes subsequent encounters easier, because a cooperative patient is much easier to treat well. Playfully examining your puppy is also worthwhile, practising basic things like checking ears, mouth and teeth right away. This can be trained with the puppy at home. Ideally, it will no longer bother him when the vet checks his ear, because he is used to it from home.
You can assume the breeder is supplying a puppy in good health. So, you don't have to pop into the vet's surgery the very next day after your new family member arrives. Separation from their mother and siblings, being taken to a new home and the immeasurable amount of new impressions are already a lot to deal with for a puppy of only a few weeks. To avoid overwhelming your little four-legged friend, you should allow him at least 3–4 days to get used to the new environment and unfamiliar people before you bring in the next exciting novelty: the vet.
However, it is important to pay attention to when the next vaccination is due. Some puppies are handed over shortly after the second vaccination, but others before that. Normally, canine diseases require a basic vaccination at intervals of 3–4 weeks. So, it is advisable to ask either at the breeder's or at the veterinary clinic to avoid missing the first booster vaccination and additionally getting time for a familiarisation visit. Dewormer is also administered monthly during the first six months. This should be done regularly, as worms can also be transmitted to humans, especially to children and immunocompromised people.
All the important nutrients a puppy needs are contained in high-quality dog food. No additional vitamins, minerals or other feed supplements are necessary for a healthy puppy. Puppy food that has been specially developed for this phase of the dog's life is characterised by the fact that it contains everything necessary for the little ones. Feeding is nevertheless very important, as it determines growth. Above all, puppies should not grow too fast. This can lead to difficulties, especially in breeds with joint problems. During the regular check-ups at the vet's, weight is one of the things that will be checked and a growth curve may be drawn up in order to keep an eye on the development and adjust feeding if necessary.
Luckily, there is a sufficient supply of vets in Austria. Now you just have to decide which one you want to go to. What should you look out for when making your choice? In the beginning in particular, a visit to the vet is due every 3–4 weeks until the basic vaccinations have been completed. So, it is convenient if the vet is nearby. In the case of anxious dogs in particular, it is advisable to regularly visit the practice without treatment. This ensures your furry friend will develop trust and learn he won't always be prodded and poked.
Basically, the chemistry between you, your pet and the vet has to be right. You will quickly find that out when you first get to know them. Vets in Austria generally have a high level of competence from their veterinary studies. Some have in-depth training in various specialist areas. Take your time to find out which surgery suits you best. Internet search engines offer a good source of information here. Go through their online service and read the reviews. In my opinion, recommendations from friends, acquaintances and other dog owners are the most valuable decision-making aid! Just ask in the dog park and let them tell you about their experiences. Ideally, you want a relationship that will last the dog's lifetime. So it pays to gather thorough information in advance.
Sanja Polz, BVetMed MRCVS CCRP
Veterinarian Sanja Polz supports us at DOG'S LOVE and CAT'S LOVE with her expertise. After completing her studies at the Royal Veterinary College, London, she went on to receive in-depth specialist training at home and abroad. Meanwhile, Sanja has been running her own practice, CityVet, in Vienna for several years.