Selecting the Right Vet for your Small Breed Dog

One of the first things that all puppy books, articles and blogs recommend you do is find a good veterinary office to bring your small dog to within 24 hours of bringing her home.

The reason for this is to examine the dog for a baseline wellness and gather information about your pup that may be helpful for monitoring growth and development as the months and years go on.

If you get your dog from a breeder, you likely also have a guarantee with the breeder against health defects identified within the first 24-72 hours…. meaning that if your dog presents any illness to potential health issues, you can return that puppy to the breeder to select a different puppy who may not have the same issues.

You can also use your first visit to a vet’s office to get a feel for the vet, himself, and to see whether you feel comfortable with their style of handling your pup. Remember – just like choosing a family doctor – for most people, your veterinarian will likely stay with you throughout the entire life of your pet. It’s important to have one that you trust.

Here is a fantastic video to introduce you to your first vet visit with your puppy. There are some important tips here on what to remember to how to approach it to ensure your dog is prepared and protected for this very important first visit.

There are many great reasons to bring your puppy to a vet within the first few days of bringing her home.

  1. A vet will weigh your puppy and can give you information as to how her weight stacks up against others in her breed at this same age. Also, he will help you to know how to watch for weight gain and/or loss, and answer any questions you may have about watching for appropriate bowel movements, etc.
  2. You can also request to have blood work taken from your puppy so that the vet’s office has a baseline reading on all of her vitals. This may come in handy if you end up with a sick puppy that needs to be monitored. This can be expensive, however and so if you prefer, you can wait until you spay/neuter your pup, as most vet clinics will perform routine blood work at that time, which they will keep in your pup’s file.
  3. A vet can provide you with valuable, unbiased information about what you can expect from the health of your breed, including bone and dental health.
  4. Your vet can help you to create a plan for things like spay/neuter and vaccinations – what vaccines your puppy will need, and at what ages.
  5. You can also speak with your vet about the types of food that they recommend for your small breed dog. Keep in mind that most all vet offices sell specialty foods for puppies and dogs, and so if their recommendation seems to lean strictly towards what they offer, then you may want to consider that your vet has their commercial gain in mind over your puppy’s health. This may also translate into unnecessary care and expenses throughout your pup’s life for other care.
  6. I recommend finding a vet clinic that can offer a wide variety of services including X-rays, blood work, casting, surgeries… This will make things easier for your pup in the future if she needs to have immediate services.

When looking for your vet, check out all of the reviews online, look for vet bios and look for a clinic with multiple veterinarians that you can see.

This is especially important because if you have to bring your puppy to the vet while your primary is on vacation, you have a back up option.

When we decided we were getting a puppy (finally! Read our story here…) the first thing I did before leaving to visit her at the breeder was to call a couple of veterinary offices in my community. As it turned out, there were two different ones in the shopping complex not 5 minutes from my house. Sweet!

I called both, told them that I was going to get a new puppy and flatly asked, what should I do next. I asked such a plain question on purpose – I wanted to see what their answers would be. I mean, I realize that it’s business for them, but I also wanted a group of people who had a passion for the animals they cared about.

The first clinic told me that I can bring the new puppy in, told me their fee for the initial visit and then tried to book a time. Sounded normal, I suppose – but I had no baseline of my own.

Then I called the second one. The tech who answered the phone gave the the emotional “Oh how exciting!” response, but then asked me questions about whether I was getting her from a breeder or just someone I knew… Did I know what type of breed I was getting? Did I know how old? She also started giving me a couple of hints for things to look for when I went to visit the litter – healthy behaviours to watch for. Did I have any questions about what to do when I got her home? Did I have a quiet comfortable spot for her to sleep that first night? ALL BEFORE EVEN ASKING ME IF I WANTED TO BOOK A VISIT!

I was sold. This woman could have billed me $500 for an initial visit and I would have sold a kidney to make it happen!

What a difference. I asked them for their schedule the next morning and booked the first available appointment! I don’t even remember if I asked the price lol.

And true to my very first impression of them, my entire experience with them to date has been exceptional! I’ve become very familiar and comfortable with them over the past 7 months! Our little Yorkie broke a couple of toes in the first weeks that we had her (read more about that and her healing process here), and having a team of such supportive people to back me up was amazing. They are so calm, and knowledgeable, and they really treat you like family.

In addition to our little toe/splint adventure, I have done all shots, her spay, dental extractions and just general check ups in the last 7 months, and for each thing, they always have your back.

My vet – and this may or may not be true for all of them – also offered that if we ever had any general questions that we could email them and they would respond. I have to say – I was surprised by this because it is essentially them giving away their expertise for free! But it shows their commitment and passion for your furbaby. I didn’t think I would use it, but I have – for potty training disasters (oh yes… we had some… for my take on when potty training isn’t text book, read here).

Do your research.

Look at online reviews. Check social media trends. Ask your trusted friends and other pet pawrents. You can always switch vets if you have to, but wouldn’t it be nice to find one and stick with them? Good luck! And don’t be afraid to put them to the test!

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