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New Pets

A new pet is exciting and can bring joy and comfort to a household. However, it can be overwhelming, depending on your experience and their medical needs. If you are a first-time pet owner or if it’s been a while, you may feel a little lost, especially with puppies and kittens. There are many aspects to caring for your new family member and your veterinarian can help you to understand what’s important. Here are some areas to focus on when taking your pet for their check-up.

Your veterinarian will want to know what food you are feeding to make sure it meets the requirements for your pet’s individual age, breed, lifestyle and medical needs. You can discuss the ins and outs behind all of the diet-fads and find the right choice. A lot of owners ask about supplements and vitamins – most dogs and cats do not require these, but it does depend on the individual case. It is also important to know how to keep your pet from becoming overweight – or, if you’ve adopted an overweight pet, your veterinarian can help figure out how to help them lose it. You can also find out what foods and plants might be toxic and what is safe to feed.

You’ll discuss what vaccinations they’ve received and if any more are indicated. Often, puppies and kittens will require several more booster vaccines to be completed. There are also other vaccines beyond the “core” ones that may fit in with your pet’s lifestyle.

Often, dogs and cats will have had some sort of deworming and/or flea, tick and heartworm preventatives prior to coming to you. You can talk with your veterinarian about why this is important, which ones are safe, effective and fit your pet’s environment so that you can continue to keep them protected.

Many rescued pets will already have been spayed or neutered, but in other cases, your dog or cat may still be intact. You will want to discuss the benefits of spaying/neutering and when the best time is for your pet.

There are many other preventative health topics, such as dental care, microchipping, and nail trims. Some rescued pets may come with preexisting conditions that will require continued care after adoption. You will also want to discuss what to do if your pet is having an emergency and how to set up an action plan if your pet needs care while you are away. Some veterinary hospitals have their own emergency department, but you may have to travel to a different hospital.

Aside from the medical aspect, you might need to work on housebreaking, obedience, and behavioral modification. Naturally, a lot of young pets need help to know what acceptable behaviors are, and in some older adopted pets, you may need to work on undesirable behaviors or help them with preexisting anxieties. Depending on the breed of dog or cat, you may need to groom them. You will also need to make sure you have the proper collars, leashes, crates, etc. and that you’ve effectively puppy- or kitten-proofed your house.

Checking in with your veterinarian will allow your pet to establish a relationship with their doctor and will allow you to go over the questions you have. Be sure to bring any records you have of your new pet’s previous medical history so your veterinarian has as much information as possible to help you move forward.

Some rescues, breeders, and veterinarians will provide information packets on all of the above questions before your visit. You can also refer to these links:

https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/pet-owners 
https://www.aaha.org/your-pet/pet-owner-education/pet-owner-resources/

Bringing a new pet into your life can be immensely fulfilling and provide much delight, but it can be overwhelming, especially if you haven’t had a pet in a long time. And even if you have, puppies and kittens can require a tremendous amount of care when they first come into your home. Thankfully, your veterinarian is there to help and there are many great resources available to assist you.

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