Give Your Puppy or Kitten the Right Start in Life
At Parkside Veterinary Hospital, each pet's first year of care is customized based on its specific needs. Just like human children, puppies and kittens require additional physical exams and vaccine boosters to ensure that they get the very best start in life.
Our recommendations for your puppy's or kitten's first year:
- Physical Exams: Your puppy's or kitten's lifetime of wellness starts with its first comprehensive physical exam. Puppies and kittens should have 3-4 exams between the ages of 8-16 weeks. These visits are important because they give our veterinarians an opportunity to assess your pet's overall health and to administer vaccines.
- Vaccinations: Due to their immature immune systems puppies and kittens must receive a series of properly staged vaccines. Since every puppy and kitten is unique, we tailor our vaccination recommendations based on their lifestyle and/or breed and according to the suggested guidelines.
- Diagnostic Testing: We recommend that puppies are tested for Heartworm at 6 months of age if not done previously and that kittens are tested for Feline Leukemia and Feline AIDS at their first visit if not done previously.
- Additional Recommendations: Your veterinarian will also discuss and recommend other services, such as spaying, neutering or microchipping that can lead to a longer and healthier life for your dog or cat.
**At all puppy and kitten visits, we encourage you to ask any questions about physical or behavioral problems you may be having. Behavioral issues in particular should be addressed as soon as problems arise in order to correct undesirable behaviors before they become entrenched.
Puppy Vaccine Protocol
Ideally, your puppy should come for its first visit around 8 weeks of age. At this time, your puppy will get a complete physical examination by one of our veterinarians and will receive the first in a series of immunizations against Distemper, Parvovirus, Hepatitis, and Parainfluenza (fortunately, these vaccines are combined into one injection). We strongly recommend that you bring in a stool sample so that we can determine if your puppy has intestinal parasites so we can treat your pet if necessary. This is particularly important if you have toddlers in your family, since roundworms and hookworms can be transmitted to humans and cause serious health problems.
The next visit, at 10 weeks of age, is for the second Distemper vaccine. The third is at 12 weeks, at which time we vaccinate your puppy against Rabies (required by law, for licensing, and for interstate travel in many areas.) We will then offer you the choice of immunizing against Lyme Disease at this visit, and discuss with you whether your puppy may be at risk for contracting this disease. The fourth and final puppy visit is at 16 weeks of age, the puppy will receive the third Distemper vaccine and possibly second Lyme booster. At this point, we consider your puppy to be properly immunized against the most serious canine diseases, so he/she can socialize with a more extensive circle of canine friends.
Kitten Vaccine Protocol
Your kitten should come for its first visit around 8 weeks of age. At this time, your kitten will get a complete examination by one of our veterinarians and will receive the first in a series of immunizations against Feline Distemper, Calicivirus, and Rhinotracheitis (these vaccines are combined into one injection). We strongly recommend that you bring in a stool sample so that we can determine if your kitten has intestinal parasites so we can treat your pet if necessary. This is particularly important if you have toddlers in your family, since roundworms and hookworms can be transmitted to humans and cause serious health problems. We will also recommend that your kitten be tested via blood sample at this time for exposure to two lethal viruses, Feline Leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus.
The next visit is at 12 weeks, at which time we boost the Distemper combination and also vaccinate your kitten against Rabies (required by law, for licensing, and for interstate travel in many areas.) The last visit is at 16 weeks or more, at which time your kitten receives the final kitten Distemper booster. We will discuss with you the risk of Feline Leukemia only if your kitten is going to be outside. If your kitten will be an "indoor-outdoor" pet, then we highly recommend giving the Leukemia vaccine in a series of 2 injections between 12 and 16 weeks of age.