Puppy Doctor

App review by
Dana Anderson, Common Sense Media
Puppy Doctor App Poster Image
Kids care for cute puppies; in-app purchases almost a must.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn the very basics about the steps of veterinary diagnosis and treatment. They can follow directions, make decisions, and feel empathy for their puppy patients. As kids read and follow the directions for caring for the puppies and follow the checklist on the checkup, they're applying information and making decisions to restore the puppies' health. There's not much adaptation, and the app's interactivity is quite rigid, especially without in-app purchases; once kids choose, the app pretty much takes over the completion of the action. Still, Puppy Doctor is a fun way for kids to learn a bit about what vets do and what sort of care puppies need to be healthy.

Ease of Play

Easy to play, although the free version requires kids to finish diagnosis and treatment of at least one dog in a limited amount of time to unlock other dogs. This app is much easier to play if users make the in-app purchase, which unlocks all tools and dogs.  

Violence & Scariness

No violence, although some dogs are pretty scraped up and have sad faces, which may bother some players especially sensitive to such things.

Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

Other apps by this developer are promoted in two spots on the main page. The free version of Puppy Doctor is free-to-try. Full access with in-app purchase is required to enjoy this app for more than one or two play sessions. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Puppy Doctor lets kids play dog doctor, but it only allows them to treat a few puppy patients before requiring an in-app purchase. Each dog appears with a name, age, breed, and set of health problems. Kids can help by diagnosing and treating them with traditional methods, such as x-rays, stethoscopes, and bandages. When kids nurse one dog back to health within a certain time limit, they unlock access to another patient (all dogs are available with in-app purchase). Some dogs need to be groomed, some have splinters, some have ear infections, and some have cuts. Certain dogs and some of the better tools (such as pills, x-rays, and antibiotics) can't be accessed without making an in-app purchase ($1.99 for the tools, $3.99 for everything). All instructions are in writing, so kids should be able to read or have someone available to read for them.

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What's it about?

Tap the PUPPY DOCTOR play icon and choose a puppy. Written instructions tell kids what to do next ("This puppy needs to be cleaned before we can do a checkup"), and kids see visual clues, too. For example, if a puppy has broken glass in its feet, kids can choose the tweezers and simply tap to remove. There's a checklist for each puppy's care. A bar at the bottom of the screen shows how much more needs to be done by turning green before moving on to the next item. Kids can tap Next Puppy to move on, even if they haven't completed the checklist.

Is it any good?

As long as you're willing to look past the word "free" and pay for access to all the features (via in-app purchase), Puppy Doctor can be a fun way for kids to play around with the concepts of veterinary medicine. As kids diagnose, treat, and care for these adorable puppies -- all with their own names, ages, and breeds listed -- they're learning the process of how medical treatment works in the most simple ways.

More options for interactivity would be an improvement, especially for older players, because a lot of the medical procedures are automatically completed by the app once kids tap to choose a tool or treatment. For example, when kids tap on a shot, the app injects it; there's no swiping, timing, or other way kids can engage in the process. When they choose a bandage, the app automatically places it; kids don't get to complete the action. Kids who are dog lovers will have fun anyway, because the puppies on Puppy Doctor are just too cute in a visually unique way, and the app has engaging sound effects.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Pets are a big responsibility. Talk about how much care pets need -- including grooming and veterinary care -- and how important it is to be responsible for your pets' health. How might a pet get hurt? Discuss pet safety. 

  • Help your kids use a toy medical kit (or make one at home with some real-life first aid supplies) to engage in imaginative role-playing, caring for their stuffed animals. 

  • Talk with your kids about the big words attached to some of these medical tools: otoscope, stethoscope, and more. Kids love learning big, "important" words!

App details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love animals

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