New Pets 

Getting a new puppy or kitten can be a very exciting time but a few moments spent considering the following points can pay dividends in the long term.

A number of potentially fatal, but preventable, diseases still occur in the UK therefore vaccination is advisable as soon as possible. Vaccination courses can be started from 6 weeks of age (puppies) or 9 weeks (kittens). This will also give your veterinary surgeon an opportunity to perform a physical examination and check that all is well with your new pet.

The first 12 weeks of a puppy’s life are most important for socialisation and getting used to new experiences so it is an advantage if vaccinations can be completed before the end of this period. Puppies who have limited experiences during this early socialisation period may become more apprehensive of novelty in adult life. Once vaccination is complete it can be worthwhile taking the puppy to a ‘puppy party’ where they will get to meet friends their own age and you can find helpful advice on the care of your youngster.

Young cats and dogs may bring some unwelcome guests with them in the form of fleas and worms. Roundworms are very common in young animals and can be acquired from their mother or from the environment. In addition to causing diarrhoea and poor growth in animals, some roundworms can affect humans who unwittingly ingest their microscopic eggs. Regular worming treatment from your vet, ‘poop-scooping’ and washing your hands after handling animals can minimise the spread of roundworms.

Fleas live in the coat of pets of all ages and can cause skin irritation. They suck blood and severe infestations in small animals can cause anaemia. Cat and dog fleas may also bite humans although they do not generally take up residence on us, but for every adult flea on the animal there may be a hundred immature stages around the home. Your vet will be able to recommend a suitable treatment for the prevention of fleas.

Sadly every year animals stray and cannot be reunited with their owners as they cannot be identified. A microchip is a safe, permanent way of individually identifying your pet. The number of your animals’ microchip is registered, along with your contact details on a national database and, should your pet become lost, veterinary surgeries, rescue associations and dog wardens can quickly scan the animal to locate its microchip and contact the registered owner. It is a legal requirement that all dogs are microchipped in the UK by the age of 12 weeks old. The Government are also set to introduce new rules whereby all pet cats in the UK must be microchipped by 20 weeks old. The date for this new law is yet to be confirmed.

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