Congrats on welcoming a new pet into your home, and we appreciate you choosing our veterinary team to help take care of them. While there is lots to think about, there are four key things we like to reinforce with every new pet owner.
- Regular check-ups
When it comes to a pet’s first year of life, we take our role in keeping them safe and healthy very seriously, so you’ll appreciate our first ask: schedule a comprehensive veterinary examination with us as soon as you can. And this won’t be the only one!
Regular veterinary care is essential during the first year with so much physical and mental development happening.
In fact, we want to see young pets several times over this first year of life. These physical examinations are crucial to ensure their heart and other organs are healthy, that they’re gaining weight as expected, and that their teeth and bones are developing normally.
At the first visit, we’ll want you to bring a fecal sample for analysis, and you can expect to go home with deworming medication for common parasites before we know the test results. This is because puppies and kittens have certain parasites that don’t show up in every fecal test, parasites are common in young pets, and can weaken their immune system if not quickly treated. If the fecal test is positive for a less common parasite, we will prescribe additional deworming medication.
Our veterinary team will also perform a nutritional assessment to help make sure your kitten or puppy is getting the right nutrition for his or her breed, life stage, and lifestyle. And, if your pet is going through the “terrible twos,” we can provide advice for any training or behavioural issues you might be facing.
To provide the best protection against common, severe infectious diseases, we need to see puppies and kittens frequently for vaccination. Starting around eight weeks old, puppies and kittens get a series of vaccinations that are given every three to four weeks until they reach 18-20 weeks of age. And yes, even indoor kittens need the immune protection provided by vaccines.
These essential (or “core”) vaccines are recommended to every puppy or kitten. They provide protection against rabies, as well as severe respiratory and gastrointestinal viruses that are highly contagious and potentially deadly.
The core canine vaccines are:
- Canine distemper
- Canine hepatitis (adenovirus)
- Canine parvovirus
- Canine parainfluenza virus
The core feline vaccines are:
- Feline calicivirus
- Feline rhinotracheitis (herpesvirus-1)
- Feline panleukopenia (feline distemper)
- Feline leukemia
Depending on your puppy or kitten’s risk of exposure, other vaccines may also be recommended; these are known as “lifestyle” or non-core vaccines. Canine non-core vaccines include kennel cough (Bordetella bronchiseptica) and Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi). Feline leukemia is considered a non-core vaccine once cats reach adulthood. Our veterinary team is happy to review the options and make a recommendation based on your pet’s lifestyle.
We recommend spaying/neutering around six months of age for cats and smaller dogs, and at one year or older for medium- to large-breed dogs. But remember: every pet is different. For some puppies, veterinarians may recommend waiting to spay/neuter until after your pet reaches sexual maturity as this can help prevent certain joint problems and cancers that may result from early spaying/neutering.
Benefits of spaying/neutering:
- Reduction of some undesirable behaviours in pets
- Protection against certain cancers
- Protection for female pets against pyometra, a life-threatening uterine infection
- Prevention against unwanted pregnancies
- Support in controlling the pet population
- Parasite Control
Parasite control is a must to discuss, particularly the seasonal parasite risks in the London, Riverbend, and surrounding areas. We will recommend an appropriate parasite prevention product to help keep your kitten or puppy protected against fleas, ticks, and heartworm disease.
We’re excited to meet your new pet! Call us today to schedule your pet’s first veterinary visit and get your puppy or kitten started down a healthy path.