A puppy’s first veterinary visit is definitely a milestone and can be a nerve-wracking time for first-time parents. Owners place a lot of trust in veterinarians. However, sometimes they can have preconceived opinions distorted by myths. I am here to help you navigate how to address these concerns with your clients.
Here are the top five myths to bust:
1. “This will be the only time my dog requires vaccinations”
A common opinion many new owners have about their puppy’s first visit is that this will be the only one that will consist of vaccinations. Because, humans don’t have boosters so why would puppies?
Puppy vaccinations are formulated and scheduled in a different manner. They do not provide immunity for life. In fact, as you may know, a puppy will require core vaccinations every three to four weeks from around the age of six weeks until the age of 16 weeks. Furthermore, vaccinations are not limited to the first year of a puppy’s life, but are in fact given annually.
How exactly these vaccinations are scheduled will depend on the vaccination plan prescribed by you, the vet.
To help address concerns, explain to your client that vaccinations are not a one-off ordeal and need to be completed entirely in order to be effective. Otherwise, they are wasting money and potentially putting their pup at risk of catching preventable and unwanted diseases. Explain that they should not assume because your breeder gave your pup their first vaccination that they are fully protected.
2. “All pets hate going to the vet!”
Sure, the veterinarian can be scary for some pets. However, not all puppies will experience anxiety, or fear during their first vet trip. In fact, it can even be exciting and pleasant.
It is our jobs as health professionals to ensure the puppy has the least stressful, and most comfortable and pleasant experience as possible.
Let owners know that they can prepare their pup and condition them to car trips, unfamiliar environments, and even bring along some treats for the drive, waiting room, and consult room.
Additionally, let them know some dogs are just more confident than others. It is definitely a myth to assume a puppy will definitely be afraid and fearful at the clinic. Some dogs come in as happy as Larry, wagging their tails and may not even want to leave.
Let them know this isn’t the clinic’s first rodeo and your staff has set up pheromone and calming sprays, toys, and even treats to aid in making the visit is as peaceful as possible.
3. “My puppy is healthy so the vet visit won’t cost much if anything at all”
This myth is common and the belief can often cause tension and awkward situations.
Just because a puppy may be healthy does not mean they will not gather their fair share of veterinary bills. This may be quite a rude awakening for owners during their first visit.
Remind the owners that pet insurance is a great tool to aid in any unforeseen or hefty veterinary bills, which may arise throughout the puppy’s lifespan.
Consultations, spays, vaccinations, worm and flea medication and any other health checks a puppy may require can be costly and should be considered before adopting a new puppy.
4. “My puppy is healthy so I can skip the first visit”
This can be dangerous for a healthy puppy. Some owners believe because their new puppy is young and healthy, they do not need to visit the veterinarian so soon. They believe it is a scam and a waste of money and oh how they are wrong!
The vet’s job is to help owners come up with a medical plan for the first year. And as we know, receiving medical advice from a professional veterinary surely beats Google.
This includes any regular health checks, which the breed may require, regular dental checks, flea and worm treatments and vaccination plans, all of which are essential in keeping a pup healthy.
Not only are we as veterinary professionals made to assist with a health plan we can also aid with training or behavior advice.
To address the myth, let owners know preventative care and subsequent visits actually help save money in the long run. This is especially true when it comes to vaccination costs when compared to the price of treatments of undesirable and avoidable diseases.
5. “My puppy won’t need dental care/treatment”
Many owners believe because their puppy is young they will not require any dental treatment or advice. The dental health of a puppy is as critical to their development, both behavioral and physiological.
Explain to owners that they need dental care the same way humans do and proceed to share what will occur during a routine check-up. Tell them as a veterinarian, you will examine the puppy’s teeth to ensure they are not only growing correctly, but they are also in good shape.
Note that dogs also require daily tooth brushing. However, it is understood this can be a difficult task and therefore as a veterinarian, you may provide other options, such as dental treats or toys.