Call us now ! Send us an email http://maps.google.com/maps?q=United States

Back to Top

Call Us Today!
(251) 479-1133
Call Us Today!
(251) 479-1133

CLIENT EDUCATION INFO

When you get a new puppy:


one of the most important things to consider is your puppy's first vet visit. This one trip can lay the foundation for great lifetime health! Here's what you'll need to know about your puppy's first vet visit.

Bringing a puppy home for the first time is an exciting experience, but also one that comes with a great deal of responsibility. From the second your new friend walks their little paws through the door, you will not only need to start training your new pup, but also take them for their first visit to the veterinarian. Here we’ll walk you through what you need to know about your puppy’s first vet visit.

WHEN TO TAKE YOUR PUP FOR THEIR FIRST VISIT

Most puppies go home to their pet parents at around 6 to 8 weeks of age, and this is the perfect time for a first visit to the vet. You can push their first visit to 10 weeks of age if necessary, but the longer you wait, the more you put your pup at risk.

Always remember to bring along any paperwork if your puppy has previously visited a vet. Some breeders start their pups’ vaccinations and deworming before sending them off to their new home, and if so, your veterinarian needs to know in order to continue your puppy on the proper dosages.

WHAT HAPPENS AT THE FIRST VET VISIT

A lot takes place during your pup’s first visit to the vet, and if you aren’t prepared, some of it can seem confusing. Let’s take a look at what you should expect.

  • Physical Examination: The vet will give your new puppy a thorough once over. They will check your dog’s body, skin, coat, eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. They will also test your pup’s vision, hearing, and alertness. 

  • Vaccinations: Puppies become susceptible to a number of diseases and conditions when the antibodies in their mother’s milk begin to wear off at around 6 weeks of age. Fortunately, vaccinations are there to protect your pup. Four core vaccines are recommended for all puppies -- distemper, canine hepatitis,canine parvovirus, lepto, and rabies. Not only is the rabies vaccine recommended for all puppies, it is also required by law in many states. 
  • In addition to those core vaccines, a number of non-core vaccines are available for pups 

who are living in certain geographic locations or who will have a lifestyle that puts them at risk for disease. Ask your veterinarian if they recommend any non-core vaccines for your dog. 

Your puppy’s vaccinations will typically start at around 6 weeks of age, and they will receive boosters every few weeks until they are finished with the shots at around 4 months old. After that, vaccination boosters will be given either annually or on a schedule set by your veterinarian.

  • Fecal Exam and Deworming: Before your pup’s first visit, your vet tech or veterinarian will let you know if you should bring a sample of your dog’s stool for a fecal exam. Most puppies are born with roundworms, and will receive a deworming medication that will either be administered at home or at the vet’s office.
  • Flea, Tick, Heartworm Prevention: Protecting your pup from fleasticks & heartworms is incredibly important, not only because these pests are annoying, but also because they can carry disease. Many preventive products can be started on puppies as young as 8 weeks old. Ask your veterinarian to recommend a medication, topical treatment, or collar that will properly protect your new pal.
  • Microchipping: A microchip is like an ID tag that lives inside of your dog’s body. It is about the size of a grain of rice and contains all of your pet’s information. If your pet is ever lost and returned to a shelter or vet’s office, the chip can be scanned and your pet safely returned to you. It’s great technology, and many veterinarians strongly recommend it. The cost is typically low and the procedure is simple -- the chip is injected between your dog’s shoulder blades. However, even if you do decide to have your pup microchipped, they should still wear an ID tag.

Remember -- never hesitate to ask questions, and try to stay calm and positive when you head into to the vet’s office for the first time -- your pup will notice, and it will put them at ease.

Senior Pet Care:

Due to improved veterinary care and dietary habits, pets are living longer now than they ever have before.

One consequence of this is that pets, along with their owners and veterinarians, are faced with a whole new set of age-related conditions.

In recent years there has been extensive research on the problems facing older pets and how their owners and veterinarians can best handle their special needs.

Q: When does a pet become "old"?

A: It varies, but cats and small dogs are generally considered geriatric at the age of 7. Larger breed dogs tend to have shorter life spans and are considered geriatric when they are approximately 6 years of age. Owners tend to want to think of their pet's age in human terms. While it is not as simple as "1 human year = X7 cat/dog years", there are calculations that can help put a pet's age in human terms: Depending on your pets weight, please ask for actual age

Q: What kinds of health problems can affect older pets?

A: Geriatric pets can develop many of the same problems seen in older people, such as

  1. cancer
  2. heart disease
  3. kidney/urinary tract disease
  4. liver disease
  5. diabetes
  6. joint or bone disease
  7. senility
  8. weakness

Q: I know my pet is getting older. How do I help them stay happy and healthy for as long as possible?

A: Talk to your veterinarian about how to care for your older pet and be prepared for possible age-related health issues. Senior pets require increased attention, including more frequent visits to the veterinarian, possible changes in diet, and in some cases alterations to their home environment. Here are some basic considerations when caring for older pets:

Older Pet Care Considerations

Geriatric pets should have semi-annual veterinary visits instead of annual visits so signs of illness or other problems can be detected early and treated. Senior pet exams are similar to those for younger pets, but are more in depth, and may include dental care, possible bloodwork, and specific checks for physical signs of diseases that are more likey in older pets.Diet and nutritionGeriatric pets often need foods that are more readily digested, and have different calorie levels and ingredients, and anti-aging nutrientsWeight controlWeight gain in geriatric dogs increases the risk of health problems, whereas weight loss is a bigger concern for geriatric cats.Parasite controlOlder pets' immune systems are not as healthy as those of younger animals; as a result, they can't fight off diseases or heal as fast as younger petsMaintaining mobilityAs with older people, keeping older pets mobile through appropriate exercise helps keep them healthier and more mobile.VaccinationYour pet's vaccination needs may change with age. Talk to your veterinarian about a vaccination program for your geriatric pet.Mental healthPets can show signs of senility. Stimulating them through interactions can help keep them mentally active. If any changes in your pet's behavior are noticed, please consult your veterinarian.Environmental considerationsOlder pets may need changes in their lifestyle, such as sleeping areas to avoid stairs, more time indoors, etc. Disabled pets have special needs which can be discussed with your veterinarianReproductive diseasesNon-neutered/non-spayed geriatric pets are at higher risk of mammary, testicular, and prostate cancers.


Q: My older pet is exhibiting changes in behavior. What's going on?

A: Before any medical signs become apparent, behavioral changes can serve as important indicators that something is changing in an older pet, which may be due to medical or other reasons. As your pet's owner, you serve a critical role in detecting early signs of disease because you interact and care for your pet on a daily basis and are familiar with your pet's behavior and routines. If your pet is showing any change in behavior or other warning signs of disease, contact your veterinarian and provide them with a list of the changes you have observed in your pet. Sometimes, the changes may seem contradictory - such as an older pet that has symptoms of hearing loss but also seems more sensitive to strange sounds.

Possible Behavior Changes in Older Pets

  • Increased reaction to sounds
  • Increased vocalization
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Decreased interaction w/humans
  • Increased irritability
  • Decreased response to commands
  • Increased aggressive/protective behavior
  • Increased anxiety
  • House soiling
  • Decreased self-hygiene/grooming
  • Repetitive activity
  • Increased wandering
  • Change in sleep cycles

Q: Is my pet becoming senile?

A: Possibly. Once any underlying or other disease causes have been ruled out, there is a chance your pet may be experiencing cognitive dysfunction. Studies conducted in the early 1990s were the first to identify brain changes in older dogs that were similar to brain changes seen in humans with Alzheimer's disease (ie, ß-amyloid deposits). Laboratory tests were also developed in the 1990s to detect learning and memory deficits in older dogs. Recently these studies have started on younger dogs in order to fully understand the effect of aging on the canine brain. Similar studies in young and older cats are also ongoing.

While researchers are still not able to identify any genetic cause of why certain animals develop cognitive dysfunction, there are drugs and specific diets available that can help manage cognitive dysfunction in dogs. If you think your pet is becoming senile, discuss it with your veterinarian.

Q: What are the common signs of disease in an older pet?

A: The signs you might see will vary with the disease or problem affecting your pet, and some signs can be seen with more than one problem. As the pet's owner, you can provide your veterinarian with valuable information that can help them determine what is going on with your pet.

Common Warning Signs of Disease in Older Pets

Kidney diseaseUrinary tract diseaseHeart diseaseDecreased appetiteIncreased urination/spotting or "accidents" in the houseCoughingIncreased thirstStraining to urinateDifficulty breathingIncreased urinationBlood in urineDecreased tolerance of exerciseDecreased or no urinationWeakness
Poor hair coat
Decreased appetiteVomiting
VomitingSore mouth


Q: How common is cancer in older pets?

A: In pets the rate of cancer increases with age. Cancer is responsible for approximately half the deaths of pets over 10 years of age. Dogs get cancer at roughly the same rate as humans, while cats tend to have lower rates of cancer. Some cancers, such as breast or testicular cancer, are largely preventable by spaying and neutering. A diagnosis of cancer may be based on x-rays, blood tests, physical appearance of tumors, and other physical signs. The ultimate test for cancer is through confirmation via a biopsy. You can read more in the AVMA'sWhat you should know about cancer in animals

Top 10 Common Signs of Cancer in Pets

  • Abnormal swellings that persist or continue to grow
  • Sores that do not heal
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bleeding or discharge from any body opening
  • Offensive mouth odor
  • Difficulty eating/swallowing
  • Hesitation to exercise/loss of stamina
  • Persistent lameness/stiffness
  • Difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating

Q: My pet seems to be in pain, and isn't as active as they should be. What should I do?

A: First, talk to your veterinarian and have them examine your pet. Your pet might have arthritis. Older pets, especially large dogs, are vulnerable to arthritis and other joint diseases, and the signs you see can vary. This chart provides the basic signs you might see if your pet has arthritis; you might see one or more of these signs in your pet.

Signs of Arthritis in Pets

  • Favoring a limb
  • Difficulty sitting or standing
  • Sleeping more
  • Seeming to have stiff or sore joints
  • Hesitancy to jump, run or climb stairs
  • Weight gain
  • Decreased activity or interest in play
  • Attitude or behavior changes (including increased irritability)
  • Being less alert

Signs of arthritis often are similar to signs of normal aging, so if your pet seems to have any of these symptoms for more than two weeks, the best thing to do is to have your veterinarian examine them, and then advise you as to what treatment plan would be best to help your pet deal with the pain. Arthritis treatments for pets are similar to those for humans, and may include:

  • Healthy diet and exercise to help maintain proper weight.
  • Working with your veterinarian to find a drug treatment that helps relieve the pain.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS): the most common treatment for arthritis in dogs. These drugs are similar to ibuprofen, aspirin, and other human pain relievers.
  • Over-the-counter pet treatments, such as pills or food containing either glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate or Omega fatty acids. Both have shown to help relieve the symptoms of arthritis in dogs.
  • Over-the-counter pet treatments, such as pills or food containing either glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate or Omega fatty acids. Both have shown to help relieve the symptoms of arthritis in dogs.
  • A veterinarian-prescribed NSAID and an over-the-counter treatment that together may help decrease pain and disease progression.
  • Diets with special supplements may also help decrease the discomfort and increase the joint mobility

Do not give human pain medications to your pet without first consulting your veterinarian. Some human products, including over-the-counter medications, can be fatal for pets.

Changes in the home environment may also help you deal with an older pet who is experiencing stiffness and/or pain. Orthopedic beds, stair steps to help an animal up to higher places (so they don't have to jump), raised feeding platforms, etc. can help make your arthritic pet's life more comfortable.

Q: When should we euthanize a pet? How will we know it's the right time?

A: This can be an incredibly difficult question for both the owner and the veterinarian, and is often a very tough decision to make. Sometimes, euthanasia is obviously the best thing to do for your pet. At other times, however, it can be less clear. An open discussion with your veterinarian, including an honest evaluation of your pet's quality of life, should help you make the decision.

One way to determine if your aging pet is still enjoying life and can remain with us a little longer is by using a "Quality of Life" scale to determine if the animal's basic needs are being met. This scale can be very helpful for the veterinarian and pet owner when deciding what is best for your pet. In this scale, pets are scored on a scale of 1 through 10 in each category, with 10 being the highest score for quality of life. Again, only an honest evaluation of each category will help with the decision.