Register with a vet
One of the first things you will need to do when you get a puppy is to register with a vet. Most vets offer healthcare plans to help you spread the cost for veterinary treatment throughout the year.
How to find and register with a vet
Every town has a vet – or a few veterinary practices. You can find details of your local vets using the RCVS Find A Vet search facility. The RCVS – the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons – is the UK’s governing body for veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses.
When it comes to picking a vet, there are a number of factors you may want to consider. This includes specialism (dogs in this case!), location and structure.
Some vets specialise in a particular species of animals, for example, small animals such as cats and dogs. Other vets specialise in farm animals or equines.
Vets also vary by business structure. Some vets have practices inside pet shops, e.g. Vets4Pets and Companion Care vets can be found at local branches of Pets at Home.
Others are part of a large nationwide veterinary group. The main ones are:
- Independent Vet Care
A smaller percentage of vet practices are independent and privately-owned.
Your puppy’s first appointment with the vet
You can make an appointment for your puppy when you call to register register with a vet. It’s a good idea to let your puppy settle in for a few days first. On the first visit, the vet will carry out a puppy health check. This involves examining their eyes, ears and teeth, weighing them and listening to their heart. Ask your vet what your dog’s ideal weight should be as an adult. You will need this information to make sure you feed your puppy the right amount of food. Feeding guidelines, which you will find on your dog food packaging, are based on your dog’s ideal weight as an adult.
At eight weeks old your puppy will need their first round vaccinations to protect them from infectious diseases. Some, but not all, breeders will give puppies their first vaccinations before they go to their new homes. Take with you any paperwork given to you when you got your puppy, so the vet can see what vaccinations they have already had and what they need. Read more about what paperwork you should get with your new puppy.
Your puppy will need a second set of vaccinations about two weeks later to complete their primary course of vaccinations. Then, about two weeks after they have had their second round of injections, your puppy will be able to go outside and meet other dogs and go to public places, like parks.
At this first appointment, your vet or vet nurse will also advise you about what worm and flea treatment you will need for your puppy and how often this needs to administered.
How often do you take a puppy to the vet
After your puppy has had their primary course of vaccinations they will need to have an annual booster to protect them from nasty diseases. They will also need a health check. This is offered every six or 12 months, depending on how your local vet operates. Your vet will examine your dog and check their weight at these appointments.
How much do vets charge?
During the first year of your puppy’s life, you will need to pay for a full course of vaccinations. This is to protect them from diseases. You will also need to have them spayed or castrated.
Veterinary treatment can be expensive, particularly if your pet becomes seriously sick, is injured, needs surgery or to has to stay overnight. Going to the vet for a consultation can cost around £60 per visit. There are ways to manage the cost of veterinary treatment, so that you don’t find yourself with a huge bill:
Dog health care plans
Most vets offer dog and puppy health care plans. These cover annual vaccinations, and a year’s worth of prescription flea and worm treatment. They also include health checks every six to 12 months. You pay a monthly subscription for this annual plan.
It’s a good idea to get pet insurance for dogs. This can cover any unexpected costs in the event of your dog being seriously ill, injured or in need of surgery. Shop around to compare pet insurance for your dog and check the small print for what’s covered and what’s not.
Help with vet costs
Help with vet bills for families on low incomes is available through a number of animal welfare charities. These include: