The decision to bring home a new puppy or kitten can be one of the most rewarding and life altering choices you will make. These adorable little balls of fluff will melt your heart and initially require much of your time and attention. Whether this is your first time raising a young dog or cat or you are a seasoned pro, there is a lot to get done in the first few months you have your new family member and the list can sometimes seem daunting. West Park Animal Hospital is prepared to help you every step of the way.
When choosing where to adopt your new puppy or kitten, please keep in mind that it is best not to adopt them until they are at least 8-12 weeks of age unless there are extenuating circumstances. This allows these fragile puppies and kittens to spend critical time developing with their mother and siblings.
Depending on where you are adopting your new little four-legged friend from, they may come with different paperwork and histories. If you are adopting your pet from a shelter, they will often have their first set of vaccines, and may already be spayed or neutered. It will be important to ask for any medical history including:
- Virus and parasite testing
- Previous illnesses and medications
- Vaccine history
- Any time spent around other ill pets
If you are adopting from a breeder, your new puppy or kitten should come with a special form called a health certificate that has been filled out by a veterinarian. This form will include:
- Any vaccines given
- Any medications given
- Any health concerns noted on a physical exam
- Parasite testing
Because puppies and kittens do not have fully functioning immune systems for the first several months of their lives they are more at risk for illnesses caused by viruses, bacteria and parasites. Our veterinarians are well-versed in these common risks and will work with you to establish a vaccine and preventative medicine program to make sure your new little four-legged friend starts and stays healthy.
While your pet is growing and developing, their body is changing quite rapidly. Each breed is a little different, but there are some conditions such as heart murmurs, hernias, hip dysplasia and airway disease that can potentially be detected at a young age and addressed early. Routine exams will be important for your puppy or kitten as they are growing so we can address these changes as soon as they arise.
Equally as important as all of those physical changes are the social and behavioral lessons your pet is learning during the first year of its life. Our veterinarians will help guide you on everything from house training to socializing your puppy or kitten with other dogs or cats.
Whether you are just thinking about bringing home a new family member or already have cute little puppy or kitten at home, below is a list of essential things to consider:
- Scheduling an initial health exam and follow-up exams to monitor your pet’s growth and development
- Establishing a vaccine schedule with your veterinarian West Park Animal Hospital (depending on how old your pet is when the vaccine series is started there are an average of 3 visits to the veterinarian for vaccines every 3-4 weeks until your pet is at least 4 months of age)
- Testing for both internal and external parasites such as intestinal worms
- Starting flea, tick, intestinal parasite and heartworm preventatives
- Establishing good grooming and hygiene practices
- Determining the best pet insurance plan for your pet
- Learning when and how to socialize your pet with other dogs, cats and people
- Learning the best techniques for training