Adopting a new pet is an exciting adventure!
There are many things to consider during the first few months of your pets life – and their health is one of the most vital. Regular visits to the veterinarian can help ensure your puppy or kitten is protected from common diseases, problem areas are identified early, and you as an owner can learn how best to care for your animal through all stages of life.
We recommend a series of three exams and vaccinations at 8, 12, and 16 weeks of age.
The first visit is the most intensive. A technician will answer any questions you may have concerning housetraining, obedience, puppy-proofing the home, socialization with dogs and people, grooming, and pet identification (microchips). The veterinarian can explain vaccine protocol, parasite control, nutrition, pet insurance, and plans to spay or neuter your dog.
The veterinarian will check for physical abnormalities such as a heart murmur, umbilical hernia, malaligned teeth, presence of rear dewclaws, and other congenital defects. He or she will receive their first vaccine (DHPP) which protects against distemper, parvovirus, parainfluenza, and adenovirus-1. Dewormer will be given orally at the first visit to rid your new puppy of roundworms and hookworms that are often passed through the mother’s placenta or milk. This is especially important if children are in a household with a new animal as they are more susceptible to contract parasites from fecal material in the yard, sandboxes, or even from the skin and hair of your pet.
At the second visit, your puppy will again be vaccinated with the distemper/parvovirus combination vaccine, but should also receive a vaccination for leptospirosis. Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease spread through the urine of wildlife which is often in irrigation water, streams, rivers, and lakes. The bacteria cause sudden kidney or liver failure in animals and can be transmitted from a pet to their human family members who are also susceptible to kidney failure.
The third visit is at four months of age. Your puppy will receive the third distemper/parvovirus/leptospirosis vaccine and the rabies vaccine, which is required by law. Your pup will receive a rabies tag and county license. An estimate will be presented for spay or neuter surgery (removing the reproductive organs).
At each puppy exam we emphasize the importance of heartworm prevention. Heartworm disease is a fatal infestation of worms in the heart. It is transmitted by the bite of a mosquito which deposits saliva containing infective larvae into the bloodstream. These larvae develop into adult worms which then lodge in the heart. One tablet given by mouth once per month will kill the larva, preventing them from developing into adult worms.
After the third visit at four months of age your puppy is considered fully vaccinated and is allowed to attend obedience training, and meet other dogs and people. Vaccines should be repeated at 1 year of age, then every 3 years thereafter.
Kittens also need exams and vaccinations at 8, 12, and 16 weeks of age.
Upon your kittens first visit a technician can answer questions concerning how to best feed your kitten, proper play habits, and providing toys and scratching posts for your kitten to avoid destructive behaviors in the home. Litterbox training and placement will be addressed, though it seems most kittens learn quickly how to use their ‘bathroom’! The veterinarian will check for any congenital or developmental abnormalities at the first exam. At all three visits, the kitten will receive a vaccination for feline upper respiratory diseases and feline distemper. Feline upper respiratory disease complex causes discharge from the eyes and ears, sneezing, loss of appetite, and can cause painful ulcers to develop in the eyes and/or mouth. Feline distemper is also known as feline panleukopenia and is closely related to canine parvovirus–causing severe and sudden diarrhea and a dangerous drop in white blood cell levels. If your kitten is infected with one of these viruses, they continue to harbor the virus in their body. During times of stress your kitty may experience similar symptoms as adults which could require treatment.
At the second visit, kittens are tested for feline leukemia virus. If infected with feline leukemia virus cats may develop immunosuppression, anemia, or the virus may trigger the development of lymphoma or leukemia later in life. If the test result is negative, the kitten is vaccinated against feline leukemia virus (FeLV). A new method of vaccination used at Animal Medical Clinic for the FeLV vaccine utilizes an air-pressurized device to deliver the vaccine into the dermis of the skin. The purpose of this method is to use less adjuvants (preservatives) in the vaccine and to enhance the immune response.
The third visit at 12 weeks of age includes the rabies vaccine, as well as boostering the FVRCP and FeLV. At this time we will address spaying and neutering. At Animal Medical Clinic, cats can be spayed or neutered at 6 months of age. After this appointment your kitten is considered fully vaccinated and does not need to be vaccinated again until 1 year of age.
Deworming is also important in cats. We prefer to administer dewormer at the first 2 exams, and thereafter the deworming schedule is based much on the lifestyle of individual cats. If a cat is an indoor only animal deworming is likely not necessary. However, if your kitten will be allowed to play outside, he or she may contract parasites. For indoor/outdoor cats we recommend deworming every 6 months for roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms