A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this app.
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.
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Products & Purchases
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.
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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.