So, you’re getting a puppy/kitten! How exciting! But what do you need to do now? It's important to consider that you have appropriate:
Food - Puppies and kittens require specific food for their growth and added nutritional requirements. For large/giant breed dogs it is especially important to feed them a "Large Breed" diet. We can discuss the advantages between different brands available, as well as dry/wet/combinations and how often to feed your new family member.
Bedding & Shelter - Everyone needs a bed to sleep in! Make sure they are protected from the cold and drafts.
Toys - Puppies and kittens have lots of energy to burn! They should be exposed to different types of toys - balls, chew toys, ropes, moving mice - you name it! Treat dispensing toys are also a great way for them to pass the time and use their brains! Toys are invaluable during the initial period that your puppy isn't completely vaccinated, as they cannot be taken out of the safety of your yard to socialise.
We've included information below for some more that we can assist you with:
Flea and Worm protection
Vaccinations are very important to help protect your pup against several significant diseases. We recommend a course of 3 vaccinations for all puppies.
1st – 6-8 weeks of age (C4 vaccine)
2nd – 12 weeks of age (C5 vaccine)
3rd – 16 weeks of age (C4 vaccine)
Then vaccinate once a year with a C5 vaccine.
The diseases you mostly need to be aware of are Parvovirus, Distemper Virus, and Infectious Hepatitis (Adenovirus type 2). Parvovirus is arguably the most important, and is typically lethal for puppies that contract it. It is highly contagious, and causes severe vomiting, diarrhoea and lethargy. Kennel Cough is another disease that can be vaccinated against, and is available in 1 or 2 strains.
Until your puppy is fully vaccinated and over 16 weeks of age your pup is at risk for contracting these diseases, some of which can be lethal. All pups are most susceptible to disease while they are less than 1 year old. Peak immunity is considered 1-2 weeks after the 3rd vaccination.
While it is extremely important that all puppies are socialised appropriately, we recommend that you exercise caution until your pup is fully vaccinated to minimise the risk of your pup contracting deadly diseases.
Vaccinations are very important to help protect your kitten against several significant diseases. We recommend a course of 3 core vaccinations for all kittens.
1st – 6-8 weeks of age
2nd – 12 weeks of age
3rd – 16 weeks of age
The diseases you mostly need to be aware of are Feline Panleukapaenia virus, Calicivirus, and Herpesvirus. Calicivirus and Herpesvirus are commonly known as Cat Flu, while Panleukapaenia virus is similar to Canine Parvovirus.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is also very common in Southeast Queensland, and can also be vaccinated against. We recommend a course of 3 vaccinations, 2 weeks apart.
1st – 12 weeks of age
2nd – 14 weeks of age
3rd – 16 weeks of age
Your cat will then need a yearly vaccination booster that includes F3 and FIV vaccinations.
People often ask the question, why do we vaccinate each year? Here are some important things to consider when setting up your pet's vaccination schedule:
All boarding facilities require your pet to be up to date with the standard core vaccinations within your reason. For dogs, this is a C5 vaccine. For cats, this is a F3 vaccine. This is to minimise the spread of readily transmissible diseases such as Canine Cough in dogs or cat flu in cats.
Dog parks and beaches are popular places to enjoy with your pet. This means there is a lot of traffic in and out of these areas, and we can't be certain that every pet travelling to these places is 100% healthy and free of disease. This high volume of animals coming and going increases the risk of disease transmission through contaminated environment (eg. a dog with Canine Cough sneezing on the gate at the dog park).
Other risks from shared spaces (eg. dog parks, foot paths, friend's houses) are the potential for these viruses to be transferred onto objects such as bowls, fences, clothing, shoes, and other items. These items can carry infections to new environments, increasing the potential spread for disease.
Viruses such as Parvovirus and Distemper Virus in dogs, and Calicivirus and Mycoplasma in cats can be found in the environment (eg. footpaths, backyard, bedding) for some years after an active infection has occurred. Parvovirus, in particular, can survive for up to 7 years or more! This means there is a constant threat of infection to an at-risk animal.
Not all pets are able to be vaccinated. There is a small population that suffer from immune disorders and are unable to receive the vaccine. Some pets have allergic reactions to the vaccine. This means that these animals are relying on the general pet population to keep these diseases to a minimum. This is called "herd immunity", where one at-risk animal is protected by the group of healthy animals. By keeping your pet up to date with their vaccinations, you are helping to protect those that are at risk.
There are some vaccines that can be administered every 3 years, however this is not a complete core vaccine and some components still need to be given yearly.
At North Maclean Family Vet, our core vaccination schedule is an annual C5 vaccine for dogs and annual F3 vaccine for cats.
All dogs and cats should be treated for intestinal worms, which are contracted by ingesting parasite larvae off the ground in their environment.
Basic worming schedule for puppies and kittens:
Treat once every 2 weeks until the puppy/kitten is 12 weeks old (3 months old).
Treat once a month for puppies and kittens between 3-6 months old.
Treat once every 3 months for all dogs and cats over the age of 6 months.
For dogs,we recommend using Popantel Allwormer tablets. For cats, we recommend using Milbemax Allwormer tablets or popantel tablets. These will treat Hookworm, Whipworm, Roundworms and Tapeworms. These parasites feed on blood and other nutrients from your puppy’s or kitten's intestines. It is very important that they are up to date for worming treatments as they can quickly become anaemic and weak, and may have vomiting and diarrhoea.
Heartworm is an internal parasite spread by mosquitoes. It is common in Australian tropical and subtropical areas. The parasites develop from the immature stages in the blood stream (microfilaria and larvae) to adult worms that live in the ventricles of the heart. Prevention of infection and treatment of the immature stages is much safer than treatment once adult worms have matured in the heart. Treatment of the adult stages can be difficult, painful and very risky.
We recommend the Proheart SR-12 injection for all dogs. The injection is given based on your dog’s bodyweight. In puppies, the injection is given at 12 weeks of age, then 6 months of age. This is to account for your pup’s growth and change in bodyweight over time. Once adults, the injection is given once a year, often at the same time as vaccination.
We recommend Revolution Spot On treatments for all cats. This spot on application is based on weight, and is available in 3 pack or 6 packs. It is applied once a month continually to provide protection again heartworm, intestinal worms, fleas and mites.
External parasite treatments may be given once a month to once every 3 months, and will treat fleas, mites and lice. All of these parasites can cause significant skin itching and inflammation, and severe flea burdens can also cause anaemia. Paralysis ticks are also a dangerous external parasite in many parts of QLD and NSW - they can be fatal in dogs and cats if left untreated!
We recommend Nexgard oral chew monthly until your pup is 6 months old, then switch to Bravecto oral chew once every 3 months. Both of these products will provide tick prevention in addition to flea prevention. Nexgard is safe to use in puppies from 8 weeks of age.
For cats, we recommend using Bravecto Spot On treatments which need to be applied every 2 months. This helps protect against fleas, paralysis ticks, heartworm, intestinal worms, and ear mites.
Flea & Tick
Microchipping is considered mandatory for all dogs and cats bred and sold in QLD. Breeders should have the puppies’ or kittens' microchipped before they go to their new homes, and a Breeder Supply Number must be completed on the microchip registration form. If you have a puppy or kitten that is not microchipped then please speak with our staff about the process.
Having your dog/cat microchipped means if they go missing and someone takes them to a vet clinic or they end up at the pound, you can be contacted instantly to come and find them. Microchipping is also an important means of proving ownership of your dog.
Microchipping is a quick and simple procedure that can be done at the time of a consultation or vaccination - a small chip/rod is implanted in between the shoulder blades with a large needle, and will stay just under the skin in this fatty area. It is a very effective means of permanent identification.
Unless you are 100% certain you intend to allow your dog or cat to breed, we recommend having your puppy/kitten desexed once it is 4-6 months old. Desexing has lots of health and behaviour benefits for both males and females.
Desexed (spayed) female dogs will not develop uterine infections (pyometra), will not spot blood when in season, and are significantly less likely to develop mammary tumours later in life. Research states if you puppy is spayed before her first season (typically 6-12 months of age) then there is 98% reduction in risk of mammary tumour development (you are almost guaranteed she will not develop mammary tumours!). Each season your dog has increases the risk by about 20%.
Desexed (castrated) male dogs are less likely to be aggressive towards other dogs (not guaranteed, as there are a number of behaviours that can lead to aggression) and are much less likely to develop prostate disease later in life. Prostate disease can cause significant difficulty urinating, and can be a source of painful infection. Castrated dogs are also less likely to try to escape your yard and they will not be motivated to seek out in-season female dogs. An entire (uncastrated) male dog can smell an in-season bitch up to 2km away!!
Desexed (spayed) female cats will not display in-heat behaviours such as restlessness and excessive vocalisation. We strongly recommend that your kitten is desexed if they are going to spend any time outdoors. Cats roam freely much further than dogs, and unwanted pregnancies are much more likely to occur. Cats can produce multiple litters in a year, with most litters being larger than 4 kittens.
Desexed (castrated) male cats are less likely to urine spray in their territory and may not get into as many fights in the neighbourhood.