The last year has certainly been interesting. Due to the pandemic, many have been forced to stay at home, away from their friends and family. This has caused an uptick in overall feelings of loneliness, depression and anxiety. One way that families have been alleviating that loneliness is by adding a furry friend to their households.

As a veterinarian I have witnessed a spike in the adoption and purchase of dogs and cats over the last year. If your family has adopted or is thinking about adopting a new dog or cat, there are a few things to consider when starting their veterinary care.

Puppies and kittens generally start their vaccination series at 8 weeks of age. As soon as you bring your new pet home, I would consider setting up your initial visit with your veterinarian. Keep in mind that most veterinary clinics have been overbooked and extremely busy the last several months. When you call for an appointment, the next available visit for non-urgent exams may be weeks out.

Once your appointment is set, I would fax or e-mail your pet’s previous records to the hospital.

This can be the medical records from the shelter, or the vaccine and deworming schedule from

the breeder. The doctor will review all of your pet’s history before you arrive, making the visit much more efficient and maximizing the time you have with the doctor. Your vet will want to discuss diet, parasite testing, socialization, vaccines, at-home dental care, microchipping and spay/neuter scheduling.

One thing I always encourage people to do is to bring a fresh fecal sample to the initial visit. This sample would ideally be from the same day as the appointment. Most dogs and cats will be dewormed by the shelter or breeder, but a parasite test should still be performed.

Your vet will need to examine your pet to make sure they are in good overall physical condition. They can then discuss what your pet’s lifestyle is likely to be in order to determine what vaccines are needed. Rabies and distemper-parvo vaccines are “core,” while leptospirosis and bordetella are “lifestyle” vaccines. A vaccine schedule will be created and upcoming appointments can be made to make sure your new pet is fully protected before going out to explore the world.

A new pet is exciting and often daunting. Getting your pet established at a veterinary hospital and discussing the initial and ongoing care of your pet should set your mind at ease and put you both on the right path. We are lucky to have these little guys to keep us company and help enrich our lives (and theirs as well).

Brandon Wilson is a Pacifica resident. He is a 2009 graduate of University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine. He has been a full-time veterinarian at Linda Mar Veterinary Hospital for the last nine years.

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