Adding a new dog or cat to your house? Here is what you need to know.
Vaccination Recommendations for Dogs:
- DHLPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parvo, and Parainfluenza) - We recommend all puppies 6 weeks and older receive a series of this combined vaccine every 3 weeks until they are at least 16 weeks old, followed by annual vaccination. An example schedule would be at 6 weeks, 9 weeks, 13 weeks, 16 weeks, 1 year, etc. We will work with each patient depending on their age at adoption and previous vaccine history to determine the best vaccine schedule for your dog.
- Rabies - Federal and North Carolina law requires all dogs to be vaccinated for the first time between the age of 12-16 weeks, again at 1 year of age, then every three years. Rabies is a contagious and deadly virus that can be transmitted to your dog through an infected dog, cat, raccoon, bat, fox, or other animal biting your dog. Rabies is zoonotic, meaning that any of these infected animals can also infect humans through their saliva. An example schedule would be at 15 weeks, 1 year, 4 years, 7 years, etc.
- Bordetella - Bordetella bronchiseptica is a contagious respiratory virus commonly lumped with a group of other respiratory diseases known as "kennel cough". We recommend a series of two vaccinations at 8 and 12 weeks, followed by biannual vaccination for all dogs that will be boarded, groomed, or will frequently be in contact with other dogs outside of your household (dog park, pet store, etc.).
Vaccination Recommendations for Cats:
- FVRCP (Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calici Virus, and Panleukopenia) - We recommend all cats, whether indoor or outdoor, receive this vaccination starting at 8 weeks and repeat 3 weeks later, followed by annual vaccination. An example schedule would be at 8 weeks, 11 weeks, then at 1 year of age etc.
- Feline Leukemia - Feline leukemia is a virus that drastically increases the chances of your cat having leukemia, immune mediated disorders, or hematologic disorders. We recommend all cats get a series of two vaccines 3 weeks apart starting at 8 weeks old, followed by an annual booster at 1 and again at 2 years of age. After this time we will evaluate your cat's lifestyle and risk level to determine if continued vaccination is recommended. An example schedule would be 8 weeks, 11 weeks, 1 year, and 2 years old.
- Rabies - Federal and North Carolina law requires all cats to be vaccinated for the first time between the age of 12-16 weeks, again at 1 year of age, then every one to three years depending on the vaccine given. Rabies is a contagious and deadly virus that can be transmitted to your cat through an infected dog, cat, raccoon, bat, fox, or other animal biting your cat. Rabies is zoonotic, meaning that any of these infected animals can also infect humans through their saliva. An example schedule would be at 15 weeks, 1 year, 4 years, 7 years, etc.
- Feline Immunodefficiency Virus (FIV) - FIV is a contagious disease most commonly spread by outdoor cats that get into a fight. The FIV vaccine is no longer available in the United States and therefore we can no longer offer this vaccine.
- Fecal floatation - We recommend a fecal float to check for the presence of intestinal parasites on any new pet added to your household regardless of age, followed by annual testing. Testing new pets is especially important because most parasites are spread from one dog or cat to another through the feces. Adding a new pet to your house could contaminate your yard and expose all of your pets to potential infection. Potential problems from intestinal parasites can range from fairly minor, to diarrhea and vomiting, or even life threatening due to anemia. No single dewormer kills every type of intestinal parasite and frequently more than one dose is indicated. Additionally, some of the common intestinal parasites are zoonotic, meaning that you or your children could become sick from skin contact or consuming anything contaminated by these parasites.
- Heartworm (Routine testing recommended in dogs only) - Heartworms have a complex life cycle that requires infection by a mosquito. Fayetteville has a very heavy mosquito and heartworm problem year round due to our unpredictable temperature fluctuations. This complex life cycle makes it impossible to detect an infection for the first 6 months after being bitten by a mosquito. We recommend testing all animals greater than 6 months of age on an annual basis, in addition to monthly prevention year round.
- Feline Leukemia and FIV (Cats only) - We recommend testing all cats at or before adoption and again prior to changing lifestyle (adding new cats to the house or changing from indoor to outdoor environment), or when clinical signs are present that may be due to either of these viruses.
- Annual Blood Chemistry Screening and Urinalysis - We recommend blood screening on an annual basis for any dog or cat over 5 years old. We have a full in house laboratory and reference (send out) laboratory for anything from annual or pre-surgical screening to emergency visits. These tests can help detect diseases like diabetes, kidney disease, and hyperthyroidism even before clinical signs develop. If detected early, we have more treatment options available and the quality of life of your pet is greatly improved. Please ask about these tests at your next visit.
- Heartworm Prevention - Due to the high prevalence in the area, if a dog lives in Fayetteville, NC or the surrounding area, he is at a very high risk of being bitten by a mosquito that is infected with the transmissible stage of heartworms. Even indoor dogs have to venture outside for potty breaks and are at great risk in this limited time. Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease caused by adult worms that are about a foot long. These worms live in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels in between, and cause severe lung disease, heart failure, and damage to other organs in the body. We have several great monthly preventatives available either for heartworm prevention alone, or combined for heartworm and flea prevention.
- Flea Prevention - Fleas are not only a nuisance, but can pose health problems ranging from minor itching and scratching, to constant biting and painful skin infections, to anemia in very small dogs and cats. Once a flea gains access to your dog or cat they can quickly multiply and infect any other household pets and lay eggs in your house and yard. Clearing your pets, house, and yard of fleas can cause months of frustration and cost hundreds of dollars. We have several great monthly preventatives available either for flea prevention alone, for combined flea and tick prevention, or for combined flea and heartworm prevention depending on your pet's risk factors.
There are countless commercial diets available and choosing a diet for your new pet can be overwhelming. Here are some basic rules to keep in mind when choosing a diet.
Species - Dogs are not big cats and cats are not little dogs.
Age - Choose a puppy or kitten food for your pet less than 1-2 years old. Choose an adult (maintenance) diet for your adult dog or cat. Choose a senior diet for your senior pet (roughly 8-12 years old depending on dog breed and over 12 years old for cats).
Breed - There is more to consider than just the amount you give when feeding dogs of different sizes. If you adopt a great dane choose a diet designed for giant breed dogs, and if you adopt a toy poodle choose a diet for small breed dog.
Wet or dry - There is no right or wrong answer when deciding whether to feed wet or dry food. However as a general rule dry diets are less expensive and are better for your pet's dental health.
Amount - This is THE MOST IMPORTANT factor to consider when feeding your new pet. The food package will give a recommended range of how many cups to feed based on your pet's expected adult weight. We recommend starting with the lower end of the range and monitoring your pets body condition score at office visits and adjusting the amount fed as necessary. This is only a starting estimate, and adjustments frequently need to be made. Excess weight can reduce longevity and adversely affect quality of life. It is associated with orthopedic diseases such as arthritis, skin and respiratory disorders, kidney disease, an increased risk of metabolic and endocrine disorders, and some types of cancer.
Frequency - Growing dogs and cats need to be fed at least twice, if not three times a day. Most adult dogs and cats can be fed twice a day.