Pet’s First Vet Visit – What to Expect

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Dr. Fiona is a veterinarian and writer for Pets Best, a pet health insurance agency. 

Hi, I’m Dr. Fiona Caldwell. And today, we’ll be discussing what to expect with your first visit to the veterinarians.

So with your first trip to the veterinarians, what you can expect is you’ll typically wait in the waiting room until a technician comes up. They’ll get your pet’s weight, and then they’ll bring you in to an exam room. And then from there, the doctor will come in and typically will get your pet’s temperature, their pulse, and their respiration, and they’ll do a physical exam.

The physical exam often will look like they’re just petting the dog or the cat. But we’re actually learning a lot about the pet just by looking at them. We’ll typically start with the face, or I usually start with the face. And we’ll look at the eyes, make sure there’s no redness in the white part of the eyes. We check the nose, look for discharge. We’ll always look at the teeth, look for quality of the teeth and dental health. We’ll always look in the ears. Typically, we’ll use an otoscope to look in there so that we can examine the deeper canals. Lymph nodes are typically checked as well, along the throat, more lymph nodes, and we assess body condition. So just going like this, you can tell whether a pet’s overweight or if they’re at an appropriate weight.

Veterinarians also palpate the abdomen. So when we’re poking around on the belly, we’re actually feeling for structures. We’re feeling for the kidneys, spleen, abnormal masses, pain, that type of thing. And then I’ll usually move back, and I’ll feel the femoral pulse, make sure it’s strong. And then typically at the end of the exam, I’ll take my stethoscope and will listen for heart and lung sounds.

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So if your pet’s there for a wellness exam, that may be all that’s done. Your pet might have vaccinations done. Or if they’re ill, there could be other tests that are run. That’s a pretty typical physical exam. And that’s what you’ll expect when you visit the veterinarians.

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