When Should My New Puppy or Kitten See the Vet?

Bedford Highway Veterinary Hospital

936 Bedford Highway
Bedford, NS B4A 3P1



When should my new puppy or kitten see the Veterinarian?

Our Vet Assistant Lyndsay and a puppy resized to 300 pixels wideIt is very important that your new family member be examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible after you bring him or her home. Puppies and kittens frequently carry worms which can be passed on to the human adults and children in your home. Also, puppies and kittens from pet stores and humane societies frequently suffer from infections which should be treated with antibiotics.

Depending on the age of your puppy or kitten, and his or her vaccination history, the veterinarian may decide to vaccinate him or her at that time. At Bedford Highway Veterinary Hospital,  vaccinate puppies and kittens at 8 weeks, 12 weeks, and 16 weeks of age.

Puppies receive vaccination against Distemper, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza and Adenovirus  combined into one needle. You may also choose at that time to vaccinate against Kennel Cough (also called "Bordetella") which is required by most boarding facilities and some groomers. Leptospirosis is another organism we vaccinate against. It is a waterbourne bacterium transmitted through racoon/opossum/rodent urine that commonly affects the liver and kidneys. Leptospirosis is also zoonotic, meaning it can be transfered to humans. These vaccines must be boostered at regular intervals in order to create a strong immunity against these diseases. At 16 weeks, we also vaccinate against rabies. This vaccination produces a strong immunity right away, and does not need to be boostered until a year later. Please see the chart below for further clarification.

Canine Vaccine Schedule          
Age  Vaccine
8 weeks Distemper, Leptospriosis
12 weeks Distemper, Leptospirosis, Bordetella
16 weeks Distemper, Bordetella, Rabies

Kittens are routinely vaccinated against upper respiratory viruses, like Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (the Feline Type-1 Herpes Virus), Calicivirus and Panleukopenia (also known as Feline Distemper). All cats, even indoor cats, are at risk from these highly contagious diseases. These are all combined into one vaccine so your kitten only needs to get one needle. Outdoor kittens are also vaccinated against Feline Leukemia, which is passed through close contact or bite wounds. These vaccines must be boostered at regular intervals in order to create a strong immunity against these diseases. At 16 weeks, we vaccinate outdoor cats against rabies, which does not need to be boostered until a year later. Please see the chart below for clarification.

Feline Vaccine Schedule          
Age Vaccine
8 weeks Distemper
12 weeks Distemper
16 weeks Distemper
Age Vaccine
8 weeks Distemper
12 weeks Distemper, Leukemia
16 weeks Distemper, Leukemia, Rabies        

After one year of age annual exams are necessary for both dogs and cats. Annual exams enable the veterinarian to assess your pet's health and are an appropriate time for vaccination.

Is it really necessary to get all of those vaccines?
Yes, it really is. Just like infants, animal babies have poor immune systems, and need to get several boosters in order to build immunity against these diseases. Due to their age and  immune systems, they are at greater risk of contracting the diseases and also of becoming seriously ill from these diseases. For example, Parvovirus in dogs and Panleukopenia in kittens is frequently fatal. Thanks to routine vaccination protocols, these diseases are being seen less and less frequently by veterinarians. Vaccinating your puppy or kitten not only protects your own pet, but prevents spreading these diseases to other  pets.

What else will the veterinarian do when I bring in my puppy or kitten?
Vaccination time is also an excellent time to talk to your veterinarian about your pet's nutrition and individual needs based on size, breed, and living arrangements. The veterinarian will perform a thorough exam of your pet's eyes, ears, skin, heart, lungs, and musculoskeletal system. Many puppies and kittens may be infected with fleas, mites, roundworms, hookworms, or other parasites. The veterinarian will prescribe your pet medications which will treat these problems, and prevent them from recurring. You can also discuss spaying or neutering your pet, dental care, and ask us to teach you how to trim your puppy or kitten's nails.

How will the doctor deworm my puppy or kitten?
The type of dewormer will depend on your puppy or kitten's age, and what kind of parasites the veterinarian finds on your pet, or suspects your pet might have. If the veterinarian finds fleas or mites, we may prescribe and apply a topical medication (Revolution) to the back of your pet's neck. For other puppies or kittens, a pill dewormer (Interceptor) might be most appropriate.

How often should I deworm my pet?
For any animal that goes outside, such as dogs or outdoor cats, we strongly recommend monthly deworming all year round. Worms can be picked up from the soil at any time of year, and can be zoonotic (be passed on to humans), especially children, seniors, and immunocompromised adults. Deworming your pet is therefore a public issue! Ask us which dewormer would be right for your pet.