Your Puppy or Kitten's First Visits to the Veterinarian

 
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A good start in life is critical for your pet and your veterinarian plays a vital role. Puppies and kittens have different nutritional requirements than adult animals, a greater sensitivity to drugs, and a greater susceptibility to diseases and parasites, so it's important that they are examined by a veterinarian during their first weeks of life.

Here's what to expect from your puppy or kitten's first visits to the veterinarian:

Physical Examination

Your veterinarian will perform a complete health check, including detection of diseases and congenital abnormalities.

Parasite Control

You should start a program for detection, elimination and prevention of intestinal parasites, fleas and heartworms.

Spay or Neuter Procedures

Your veterinarian can counsel you on and perform spay or neuter procedures. This procedure will help avoid potential medical and behavioral problems, as well as to combat pet overpopulation. It is recommended that pets be altered before they reach sexual maturity, which is between 7 to 9 months of age.

Vaccinations

 

Your veterinarian can counsel you on the dangers of various diseases that can be prevented with routine vaccinations. Some of these diseases, such as canine parvovirus, can be highly contagious and sometimes fatal to young pets. Your veterinarian will discuss which of these diseases are the most prevalent in your area and make recommendations for appropriate immunizations.

Rabies vaccination is required by Oregon law for all dogs; Multnomah County requires the vaccination for cats as well.

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Identification

All pets should have some sort of identification, whether it be a collar and a tag with your name and address on it or a microchip implanted under the skin. These help to ensure your pet will find its way home should it become lost.

Behavior Counseling

The most frequent reason a pet is returned or otherwise surrendered to a shelter is due to behavioral problems. These problems can become so severe they necessitate euthanasia of the pet. Your veterinarian can counsel you on basic training and behavioral issues. This will ensure your pet will be a treasured member of the family and not a "problem child." The sooner you get started with training, the better.

If you desire more advanced training, your veterinarian may be able to recommend someone in your area that has classes you and your pet can attend.

Socializing your puppy is an important part of this training. Socialization is the process by which a dog learns how to behave appropriately with others in its environment. Learn more about behavior issues.

Nutritional Counseling

Since the most active growth period for young dogs and cats is the first 7 to 10 months, advice on the best choice of diet is important. Overweight or malnourished pets face serious health risks.

Health Insurance

Along with the joys of a new puppy or kitten come the responsibilities of pet ownership, including meeting the cost of veterinary care. An increasing number of pet owners are choosing to purchase pet health insurance policies for their pets. Such policies typically provide reimbursement coverage for your pet’s eligible medical treatments, surgeries, lab fees, X-rays, and prescriptions.

A good time to obtain coverage for a pet is when they are young. Older pets may have medical conditions that would be excluded from coverage. As with people, older pets may incur higher premiums. Your veterinarian may be able to recommend a company or plan that he or she has experience with.

Published: March 6, 2009;    Updated:

Filed Under: Animal Care Health Basics, Companion Animals, Cats, Dogs

Author: Oregon Veterinary Medical Association

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