Westside Animal HospitalNew Pets Need Special Care
Bringing home a new puppy or kitten is such a joy! Give your new pet a great start by making an appointment with our pet clinic within the first few days. Together, we will develop a healthy plan for your new kitten or puppy, providing the best possible care at every stage of your new pet’s life.
Vaccinations and Wellness Exams
New pet owners should plan to make several visits to Westside Animal Hospital for wellness exams and kitten and puppy vaccinations during the first few months of ownership, usually 3 weeks apart. This will give our veterinarian the opportunity to complete your pet’s initial vaccination series; dispense heartworm, flea, and tick medications; and monitor any developing medical or behavioral conditions. For more detailed information on our recommended vaccine schedule for puppies and kittens, download our articles:
- Puppy Vaccinations and Wellness Schedule
- Kitten Vaccinations and Wellness Schedule
- Intestinal Parasites and Your Pet
- Heartworm Disease
Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal condition caused by parasitic worms that are transmitted by common mosquitoes. These worms live in the arteries of the lungs and occasionally in the right side of the heart of dogs, cats, and other species of mammals. It is a common misconception that indoor pets aren’t in danger for heartworms or other parasitic infections. This simply isn’t true.
For both dogs and cats, clinical signs of heartworm disease may not be recognized in the early stages, as the number of heartworms in an animal tends to accumulate gradually over a period of months and sometimes years. In order to catch heartworm disease in its earliest stages, heartworm testing should be done at least once yearly or more often, as recommended by your veterinarian.
Because heartworm disease is preventable, we want to partner with you to protect you pet from this dangerous disease. Heartworm prevention is safe, easy, and inexpensive. All puppies and kittens should begin a heartworm prevention program at 7 weeks of age. Learn more about heartworms from the American Heartworm Society or download our heartworm prevention handout.
Most people think of fleas and ticks when they think of parasites. Think again! Intestinal parasites are organisms that live inside other living organisms. They come in all shapes and sizes and often times can only be seen by microscope. Some of the more common intestinal parasites that we see in pets are roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, Giardia, and coccidia. Puppies and kittens should begin a parasite elimination and prevention program at 7 weeks of age. Learn more about intestinal parasites and simple testing procedures to protect your pet and your family.
High quality puppy or kitten food is necessary for the healthy growth and development of your new pet. Always offer fresh water and never give your young pet table food. Baby animals have sensitive digestive systems that need to be protected. Avoiding table food from the start helps prevent obesity and finicky eaters. Consult your veterinarian regarding high quality pet foods and treats and an appropriate diet plan for your new pet. Hills provides pet nutritional resources for dogs and cats.
Baby-Proof Your Home
Most young animals love to chew, so eliminate any hazards from their space and provide them with appropriate chew toys. If your young pet is to be left alone for periods of time, find a clean, dry space that is safe—most puppies do well in gated areas or crates, while kittens may need to be closed into a room or rooms that have been made safe for them. Remove any accessible houseplants or chemicals from this area to avoid accidental poisoning and provide a warm, dry bed.
A Social Life
Remember that your puppy or kitten is a baby. Leaving them alone for long periods of time fails to socialize them, so make sure that your baby has company—lots of it! You can never overexpose puppies or kittens to other animals and people. Socializing is critical to avoiding a very shy or fearful pet that may exhibit behavior problems. We will be pleased to recommend resources for training your new pet.
Spays and Neuters
We recommend all puppies and kittens not intended for breeding be spayed or neutered at 6 months of age. This results in a healthier pet that will generally live longer and be a happier companion in your home. Learn about this simple surgical procedure in our spay and neuter handout.
The decision to have your pet undergo surgery is an important one. That is why our hospital conforms to the standards recommended by the American Animal Hospital Association. Learn more about our surgical procedures and how we will care for your special friend during this time.
Pets, Worms, and Children
Dogs and cats are born with worms contracted in the mother’s uterus and should first be dewormed at 3 weeks of age. Puppies and kittens also are infected from their mother’s milk and need to be dewormed after they are weaned. Kittens and pups should be dewormed at least four times between 7 and 16 weeks of age and then rechecked at 6 months and 1 year of age.
This intestinal parasite control program is the one recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) due to the incidence of hookworm and roundworm infections in humans. Under normal situations, it is rare for children to become infected with worms from animals. However, we strongly recommend good sanitation and parasite control to keep you family’s risk at a minimum. The CDC Healthy Pets, Healthy People website provides more information and guidance on this topic.