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Check out the Michigan Humane Society blog on Mondays to see common veterinary questions answered. If you have an immediate medical concern with your pet, please call your veterinarian! If you have a non-urgent question you would like answered on the blog, you can comment here or email us at mail(at)michiganhumane.org.

“When should I bring my new puppy to the vet? What will happen during the visit?”

You should schedule a veterinary appointment for your new puppy as soon as possible to get started on important preventive care. Your veterinarian will perform an exam and look for any abnormalities. Starting at 6-8 weeks of age, puppies should receive a series of distemper vaccines that will be repeated every 3-4 weeks until they are 16-weeks-old. The distemper vaccine is a combination vaccine that protects your puppy from distemper, parvovirus, and hepatitis. These are serious viruses that affect dogs. Other recommended vaccines include leptospirosis and bordetella. Leptosporosis is a bacterial infection that leads to kidney and liver failure and can be transmitted to people. The bordetella vaccine offers protection against one common cause of upper respiratory infections in dogs. A rabies vaccine should be given to any puppy 16 weeks of age or older.

Bring a sample of your puppy’s feces to your first appointment. A fecal sample is run to test for intestinal parasites, such as roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, giardia and coccidia. Often puppies are given a deworming medication with each vaccine visit as a precaution to treat them for any worms that may not be detected in the fecal sample. Many of the intestinal parasites that puppies have can be transmitted to people, so it is important to make sure your puppy is free of worms. Your veterinarian will determine the appropriate deworming schedule for your puppy.
All puppies should be started on monthly heartworm prevention. This important medication protects your puppy from heartworm disease and intestinal parasites, and should be continued year-round. A heartworm test should be done when your puppy is six months old, then every year for the remainder of your dog’s life.

Spaying and neutering should be done by six months of age. Spaying and neutering have many health benefits, including protecting pets from certain types of cancer. Undesirable behaviors such as urine marking and roaming are also reduced. Spaying and neutering also prevent unwanted litters of puppies.

Other things that may be discussed at your puppy’s first visit include flea/tick prevention, behavior issues, diet and grooming. It is important to follow your veterinarian’s recommendations to keep your new puppy healthy.

“When should I bring my new kitten to the vet? What will happen during the visit?”

You should schedule a veterinary appointment right away for your new kitten. Your veterinarian will perform an exam and look for any abnormalities. Starting between 6-8 weeks of age, kittens should receive a series of distemper vaccines every 3-4 weeks until 16 weeks of age. The distemper vaccine protects cats against three serious diseases, including rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia. A feline leukemia vaccine series may also be considered. Kittens should be vaccinated against rabies at 16 weeks of age.

All kittens should be tested for feline leukemia (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). These viruses compromise the immune system and are often fatal. FeLV is highly contagious and passed by casual contact. Kittens can be born with FeLV if their mother is infected. FIV is often passed by bite wounds. Any new kitten or cat should be screened for these diseases especially if other cats are present in the home. The test may need to be performed more than once depending on your kitten’s age and circumstances.

Bring a fresh sample of your kitten’s feces to your first veterinary visit. The fecal sample will be used to test your kitten for intestinal parasites, such as roundworms, hookworms, coccidia and giardia. Many of the intestinal parasites that cats get can be transmitted to people. Your kitten may be dewormed at each vaccine visit as a precaution to treat for any parasites not detected in the fecal test. Your veterinarian will determine the appropriate deworming schedule for your kitten.

Your kitten should be spayed or neutered by 6 months of age. Spaying and neutering have many health benefits and will prevent unwanted behaviors such as urine spraying. Unwanted litters of kittens will also be prevented.

Other things that may be discussed at your kitten’s first visit may include litter box hygiene, heartworm disease and diet. Bring your questions and follow your veterinarian’s recommendations to keep your new kitten happy and healthy.

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