Your German Shepherd Puppy’s First Vet Visit
Find out what you and your German Shepherd Dog should expect at your dog’s first vet visit.
By Marcia King |
posted: March 29, 2012, 12 p.m. EDT
Through gentle head-to-toe probing and careful examination of your German Shepherd puppy, the veterinarian can learn a lot about your dog’s health status and uncover emerging problems. Although thorough, the physical exam takes only a few minutes to complete.
"We listen first to the dog’s heart and lungs,” says Bernadine Cruz, D.V.M., of Laguna Hills Animal Hospital in California. Many puppies are born with small, benign heart murmurs that disappear with age, but some abnormal heart or lung sounds indicate a more serious problem.
The veterinarian examines the German Shepherd Dog’s teeth and mouth for correct bite and normal dentition. He or she manipulates the puppy’s limbs and hip joints, checking the range of motion. "If there is extreme laxity [looseness] of the hip joint, X-rays are recommended,” says Thomas A. Carpenter, a veterinarian and former president of the American Animal Hospital Association. "However, most of these issues are impossible to judge prior to 16 weeks of age.”
Upon completing the exam, the veterinarian checks the German Shepherd’s temperature and weight, then examines the puppy’s coat and skin for signs of fleas, external parasites or skin problems. The veterinarian also performs a fecal test, looking for internal parasites – don’t forget to bring a stool sample – and inspects male puppies to see if they have both testicles.
In addition to the physical exam, your veterinarian will review your GSD’s history (e.g., weight changes, findings from any previous exams, vaccination and deworming history and discuss the most appropriate options for your GSD’s wellness protocol.) "We often break down the topics into several visits so the owner can digest and understand the material,” Carpenter says. Topics include nutrition, weight control, exercise, vaccinations and dewormings, preventatives, dental care, training, spaying or neutering, and sometimes microchipping.
Come prepared to the first and future vet visits with questions about your German Shepherd’s care, and ask your veterinarian about anything that causes concern. "Bring in a little pet diary or notebook with your questions, and write down information you receive,” Cruz says. "You could be inundated with information, and you might not remember it all.”
Keep in mind, too, that your German Shepherd’s veterinarian will be a vital partner in your dog’s life for years to come. This first visit is but one step on a long and fruitful journey.
Excerpt from the Popular Puppies Series magabook German Shepherd Puppies with permission from its publisher, BowTie magazines, a division of BowTie Inc. Purchase German Shepherd Puppies here.
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