When Do Puppies Need to Go to the Vet?

Posted in:
French bulldog who is going to vet for a routine checkup and care

If you just got a new puppy, you probably already know that veterinarian visits are in your future. But when do puppies need to go to the vet? Learn about the guidelines for canine vet care at each stage of life.

3-week-old puppies

Puppies should be seen by a veterinarian at approximately 3 weeks old for a physical and a fecal test for intestinal parasites. While you’re there, you can talk about what vaccines will be needed in the future, how to prevent disease, when to have spay/neuter surgery done, and how to handle the diet change from mom to meals. To keep your puppy safe from possible diseases, carry the puppy in your arms when you go in to see the veterinarian. 

6- to 8-week-old puppies

At 6 to 8 weeks old, puppies start getting vaccinations. The vaccines can be given every three to four weeks, depending on when they are started and the perceived risk to the animal. The puppy should still be protected from diseases until they're fully vaccinated. If heartworm preventive medication is needed in your area, you should start that, too. In addition, spay/neuter can be done as early as 8 weeks old; the puppy must weigh at least 2 pounds.

12-week-old puppies

At 12 weeks old, your puppy should get a parasite test. A rabies vaccine should be given between 12 and 16 weeks of age, depending on local laws. If spay/neuter has not happened yet, it can be scheduled around this time. Continue to keep your puppy up off the floor during visits to the veterinarian to protect them from disease. At 16 weeks old, the veterinarian will administer the third and final set of shots. Some dogs (mostly black-and-tan dogs like Rottweilers and Dobermans) require an additional vaccine at 20 weeks old.

Annual vet care for dogs

After the 4-month visit, your dog should be seen annually by your vet for a physical examination, vaccines, parasite test, dental check, and any needed bloodwork or other tests that the vet recommends. Once your dog is a senior, they might need to be seen more often.

Besides taking your dog in for annual checkups, you should also see the veterinarian if:

  • You have a puppy who's not gaining weight.
  • Your dog is lethargic or is losing or gaining weight.
  • Your dog seems to be having some discomfort.
  • You notice a change in your dog's behavior.
  • You notice a change in your dog's general health. For example, the dog's eyes have lost their brightness or the dog's coat has lost its luster.

Remember, regular veterinary care is an essential component of your pet’s good health.