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Why You Should Take Your New Puppy or Kitten to the Vet

Posted 01.11.13 by Katie Wooden, DVM

Most people know that it is important to take your new pet to the vet, but have you ever wondered why? Here are some reasons why taking your new pet to the vet should be first on your priority list.

To make sure your new pet is healthy

When you take your pet to the veterinarian for the first time, the doctor will want to perform a thorough physical exam.  The veterinarian will look for any signs of underlying medical problems, such as poor gait, skin problems, or congenital problems, like heart defects.  If your pet was obtained from a breeder, many breeders have a clause in their contract that states that you must take your new pet to the vet within a specific period of time. Otherwise, the breeder is not liable for any medical issues discovered after that time frame.

Your veterinarian will also look for any signs of upper respiratory or gastrointestinal illnesses, which can be common in young puppies and kittens. Since puppies and kittens do not have fully functioning immune systems, illnesses can progress very quickly.  They can also become dehydrated very quickly. Your vet will be able to evaluate your pet and determine what treatment plan is best.

If you have adopted a new kitten, it is extremely important to have them tested for feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and feline leukemia (FeLV).  FIV and FeLV are viruses that attack cat’s immune systems, causing them to be more vulnerable to infections. These viruses can affect your kitten’s health and lifespan. They are also contagious to other cats,  so it is extremely important to test your kitten before introducing him or her to other cats in your home.

To Test For Intestinal Parasites

Your vet will also perform a fecal exam to check for intestinal parasites.  Puppies and kittens commonly carry intestinal parasites, such as roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, and coccidia. Puppies and kittens with these parasites can have no signs, or may have diarrhea and vomiting.  Some of these parasites can be transmitted to other pets in the household, as well as humans. So testing and de-worming your new pet is very important.

To Receive Vaccines

Your vet will also determine a vaccination plan for your new pet. Just like human babies, puppies and kittens will need several sets of vaccines. We recommend that they receive three to four sets of vaccines depending on their age.  Many serious veterinary illnesses are preventable with proper vaccination. Puppies and kittens should begin a vaccine plan at 6-8 weeks of age.

To Begin Heartworm and Flea Prevention

Depending on your pet’s age and weight, they will also need to begin a heartworm and flea preventative. Fleas from your new puppy or kitten can easily spread to other animals in your household and lead to an infestation. Both dogs and cats can get heartworms, so we recommend that both are started on a heartworm preventative when they reach the age and weight minimum requirements.

To Learn Helpful Lifestyle Tips

Your new pet’s first vet visit is a great time to discuss other topics with your vet, such as spaying/neutering, feeding recommendations, house training, behavioral issues, and pet insurance. It’s very important to make sure that your pet gets a good and healthy start to his/her new life!


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