Journal Entry 3: My First Vet Visit


Sitting on a bench to get "socialized" before being fully vaccinated

I went on another adventure just two days after arriving in my forever home! They started up that chunky thing that rolls and lifted me into a small crate on the back seat. Oh, I love that thing! I heard humans call it a "car" I think. My very first car ride was a little tough, but ever since then it’s one of my favorite places to nap.


The crate was comfy and had blankets and a toy in it, so I nibbled on them for a little bit and dozed off. When the car stopped, I got super excited and curious. I heard a new voice and responded so she could hear me too! I didn’t know who she was, or why her mouth and nose were covered, but she seemed friendly, and I really wanted to meet her. Mom got me out of my crate and the new lady put something new around my neck before we started running toward a door. Adventure began!!! I didn’t even care that mom didn’t come through the door with us. There were so many new smells to sniff! Then another lady in a white jacket came to meet me and you know I jumped up all over her too.


It didn’t take long before I heard mom’s and dad’s voices again, but they weren’t in the room! Only the lady who met me at the car, and the nice new lady with a white jacket were there. Both of them had their mouth and nose covered. Weird humans. But they were talking to my parents and my parents were responding. Geez, can humans get any weirder?


The lady with the white jacket gave me pets while she spoke. She checked my paws, belly, ears, eyes… my teeth. I must confess that I might’ve tried to catch her hand a few times, but she was always too fast! Darn it! Then before I knew it, they were focused on my right shoulder and I felt a little pinch. But before I could whine, they gave me ear scratchies again and all was well. Mom met us at the door and I was so excited to see her and tell her about my adventure that I peed a little right there on the spot. Sorry, not sorry!


Mom was happy to hear I had a good time, but she also said there was a lot of other stuff going on that I had no idea about. Honestly, it was over my ears. So I asked her to just add on to my journal entry since it matters more for the humans anyway. So, for the bland advice that will make you fall asleep, here’s mom.

 

Hi Maggie’s friends! Here’s everything that matters more to us humans.


Picking a vet Maggie came home in February 2021, meaning most of the United States was still in lockdown. Also, most veterinarians and pet hospitals had a long wait for taking new patients. That part of our experience will likely not be relevant going forward, but we still recommend starting a veterinarian search as soon as you know you’ll be bringing home a pup. Checklist:

  • Try and target a veterinarian that is open 24/7, or that has some partnership with a 24/7 clinic

  • Interview a few different places and ask them things like (1) how they balance western and eastern medicine approaches to treating dogs, (2) what sanitation methods they have in between patients, (3) what the usual wait time is to be seen, (4) how many veterinarians they have on staff and will there be a backup option in case you have an emergency and your main vet is not available, (5) ask if there are any current patients who you could talk with about their experience

  • If you can visit a few veterinarians in person (something we weren’t able to do during lockdown), that can help you evaluate the location and observe their standards first-hand

  • During your first visit, ask as many questions as you want. You’ll want to evaluate how well the veterinarian answers them, and how patient they are with you. Especially if you’re a new puppy parent (like we were) you will have numerous questions and you need someone who will empathize with that, and not rush you. The way they treat you is likely the way they will treat your pup.


Getting Pet Insurance SwissRidge Kennels sent Maggie home with a 30 day free trial of insurance from Trupanion. Initially we debated whether it was necessary for a dog, but we have heard too many stories of people wishing they had insurance when they needed it. We opted for the more comprehensive option that costs around $105 per month. It is a steep price to pay when your dog is fine, however, it gives us peace of mind. Anyway, in America we are used to paying for health insurance.


Health Check We took Maggie to the vet on her second day home so she could have a comprehensive evaluation performed. SwissRidge and the vet recommended that we bring a stool sample so it could be tested for parasites.


Maggie did test positive for giardia, and we opted to give her the medication recommended by the veterinarian. Fortunately, she didn’t hasn’t had any bad side effects, but there are risks involved with common medications like Metronidazole. There are other natural remedies which other pet owners have used (recommendation credit goes to @PawsandArrows) like Kochi Free, MSM Powder, and probiotics like Fido’s Flora.


Vaccinations This schedule from American Kennel Club provides a comprehensive overview of the recommended and optional vaccinations for your pup. Parvovirus is a highly contagious virus, and puppies younger than four months are most at risk because they are not fully vaccinated. The first vaccinations will happen around 8 weeks, and the next two doses will be administered 3-4 weeks apart. So your pup will be fully vaccinated with required vaccines (and less at risk for Parvo) by the time they are four and a half months old. See the next section about Do’s and Don’ts before your pup is fully vaccinated.


We debated the “lifestyle” vaccines because we did not want to over-vaccinate Maggie, however we decided to give her the Leptospirosis and Bordetella vaccines. Leptospirosis is important for dogs that visit the beach or go on hikes, but even if you live in an area with squirrels (which is basically everywhere). Bordatella is often required for doggie daycare, and good to have if you visit dog parks. There may be other vaccines that are important for your area, so consult with your veterinarian.


It is important to be aware that some pups have negative reactions to the Lepto vaccine, so it’s a good idea to schedule the vet visit early in the day when administering that shot.


Do’s and Don’ts Before Full Vaccination Maggie already received her first dose of DHPP by the time she came home at 12 weeks (since she did four weeks of training). She had a lot of puppy energy and we only have a small garden, so it was difficult to entertain her, but the risk of Parvo was greater than the discomfort. We had lots of toys, treats, and tried to mentally stimulate her.


After her second dose of DHPP we started letting her walk on the concrete around our neighborhood, but only for a small distance and we tended to walk on the quiet road since it’s less likely dogs would walk there.


Socializing her was difficult because of lockdown, but we manage to ask one couple from our “bubble” to come meet Maggie at our home. We also took her to the main street in our town, carried her to a bench, and sat with her on the bench so she could watch people and other dogs walk by. We didn’t get on the schedule early enough, but if we had planned ahead better we would have enrolled her in puppy pre-school classes (like these at zoom room) which are for pre-vaccinated puppies.


Spay/Neuter Timing On our first vet visit we talked about the pro’s/con’s of spaying Maggie before 12 months. You should talk with your vet to decide what is best for you, but we will aim to wait until she is 12 months old. The reason is because there are studies that found increased likelihood of hip dysplasia in golden retrievers who are spayed/neutered before 12 months (Maggie is half golden retriever). There is also a greater risk of developing canine cruciate ligament (CCL). There is a risk of cancer in dogs who are spayed/neutered after 12 months, however it is lower than the risks of early spay/neuter.


Flea/Tick/Heartworm/Ringworm Remedies There are so many different options and approaches, each with their own pros and cons, that it’s good to start the conversation with your vet early. There are collars, topical creams, and oral tablets. There are also more natural remedies that are applied right before going on outings. Some options solve for just one thing, while other options solve for three at a time.


We felt overwhelmed by the options! Around the time Maggie was six months old we wanted to start going on hikes with her, so we opted for Simparica Trio after doing the research. We didn’t want to deal with the risk of improper application of topical creams, or having natural remedies not work. We also didn’t want her to have to wear a collar 24/7 that only addresses fleas. So, for us, the decision was a process of deduction as well as researching the potential side effects of Simparica Trio, and then making a calculated decision.


Okay, that’s all from me, back to Maggie!


 

What do you think of the vet, friends? Are you excited to go there, like me, or are you a bit more timid?


Remember, life is what you make of it! So take the lead, dood!

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