You’ve picked up their favorite toys, stocked up only the best pet food, and have pet-proofed your home. You’re clearly ready to bring your pet home, but what happens after that? Hopefully the answer is scheduling your pet’s first veterinarian visit. While the first visit can seem daunting, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite tips to make the process as smooth as possible.

Set up a Veterinarian Visit Right Away

Even if your pet was checked out by a veterinarian when they were at the shelter — or seems perfectly healthy to you — you’ll still want to make an appointment within the first week or so. Why? Your dog or cat may be due for additional medications to keep them (and you) safe in their new home.

Prepare your questions ahead of time, even if that means writing them down.

Additionally, no one ever expects an emergency to occur—especially in those first happy moments at home—but establishing a relationship with a local vet early on will give you peace of mind if you find yourself in an emergency situation.

Schedule Your Visit Early

It’s best to schedule your veterinarian visit for the morning, when delays are less likely. And arrive a few minutes early so you can help get your pet settled and fill out any paperwork. If your veterinarian offers patient forms online, fill out any paperwork at home, so your visit goes even more smoothly.

Bring All the Proper Items With You

There’s a lot you can do to help your pet’s first veterinarian visit run smoothly and get the most out of your time there.

  1. Bring your adoption papers from the shelter. This will help your veterinarian get to know your pet’s medical history, and which vaccines they’ve already had, or still need.
  2. Bring a list of any medications or supplements your pet is on, how often they take them, as well as the food you’re feeding them. If it’s easier, just bring the medications with you to the office. You can then explain what each one is and why your pet needs it.
  3. Prepare your questions ahead of time, even if that means writing them down.
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Tricks of the Trade

Bring Treats
Is there one that your pet really loves? Bring some for your veterinarian and their assistants to give to your pet during the appointment.

Leave the Room
If you’re squeamish around needles, it’s best to leave the room. Your pet might even pick up on your anxiety and get more stressed out themselves.

Once you’re back at home, do something fun with your pet to help them relax after their visit.

illustrated dog at the vet

What to Expect for Your Pet’s First Visit to the Veterinarian

At your first appointment, you’ll work together with your veterinarian to gather clues about your pet’s dietary needs, training, and any deeply hidden problems they might have. It’s also a perfect opportunity to discuss topics like pet proofing, training, and parasite protection.

Your veterinarian will thoroughly examine your pet, looking for things like heart murmurs, ear infections or even worms.


Claire Walther, DVM

Dr. Claire Walther was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio. She received her BS and DVM from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. While at Purdue University, she graduated with honors for her research. During her veterinary education, she acted as a clinical pathology technician and developed a keen understanding of clinical laboratory testing. She practiced outside Indianapolis in corporate (Banfield) and independent general practice before joining Zoetis in 2016. Dr. Walther is currently the Zoetis Petcare HQ Feline Pain Strategy Director.

The Walther family includes 3 dogs (Eelie, Eva, and Vanilla Bean) and two cats (Gambit and Linkin). It is the love she shares for her family, both human and animal, that fosters her drive to enhance our ability to detect, prevent and treat disease within the field of veterinary medicine.