New Pet to the Vet, What should I expect?

New Pet to the Vet, What should I expect?

Posted on Dec 04, 2012 by admin

What Should I Expect During My First Visits To The Veterinarian With My Newly Adopted Pet?

Written by Blakeley Murrell-Liland, DVM and first published in "4 Legs and a Tail" Holiday 2012 edition, pages 23-25.

If you are adopting a young animal, the first few months with your new pet will be busy with visits to your veterinarian.  Young animals need to be tested for infectious diseases, most should be spayed or neutered and they need a number of vaccines to be protected from diseases.

If you are adopting an adult animal, you will also be visiting your veterinarian often.  You and your vet need to make sure that your pet is healthy, free of external and internal parasites and has had all of the necessary vaccines for their geographical location and their life-style. 

Whenever you are adopting or purchasing a new animal, you should ask if the animal has been examined by a veterinarian. Ideally humane societies, shelters and rescue groups have had all of their adoptable pets examined by a veterinarian, but this does not always happen.  If your new pet has been examined by a veterinarian prior to the adoption, ask for a copy of the examination records and any health certificate issued and bring these records along when you take your new pet to your veterinarian.  

Whether your new animal was examined by a veterinarian or not, ask about the return policy should your veterinarian discover significant health issues.  No one adopts an animal with the intention of returning it, but the answer to this question will tell you something about the integrity of the person or group that is selling or adopting out the animal. 

When people adopt a new pet, they are often told that their pet is up to date on “all vaccines.”  However the animal may have only been vaccinated for rabies and distemper, and may be missing other important vaccines.  Even if your pet does not need any additional vaccines immediately following the adoption, your veterinarian needs to have the vaccination history in order to schedule future vaccinations and to avoid future hassles if the vaccination history of the pet is needed, for example for travel outside the country or if someone is bitten by your pet.

Once you have adopted your new pet, you should make an appointment to see your veterinarian as soon as possible.  The following are a number of things your veterinarian will likely discuss with you:

Fecal Tests - Even if your pet had a fecal exam and was dewormed for intestinal parasites before you adopted it, you should still take a fecal sample to your veterinarian.  Your veterinarian may recommend deworming your pet again, even if all fecal exams were negative.  It is very important to ensure that your pet starts its life free of internal parasites and the deworming products used are very safe for animals. 

Vaccines - Kittens and puppies need a number of vaccines.  Every veterinarian will have specific vaccine recommendations based on location, the pet’s lifestyle and local infectious diseases that might be prevalent.  For example, if you are planning to allow your cat to go outside, you may want to have your cat vaccinated for Feline Leukemia Virus.  In this part of the country, there is a good chance your veterinarian may suggest Lyme vaccine for your dog which would not happen in Florida, where the incidence of Lyme disease is very low.

Infectious Disease Testing - If you have adopted a kitten, your veterinarian may recommend a Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) test if one was not performed before you adopted it.  These are very serious viral infections that can be passed from the mother to a kitten and can be contagious to other cats in your household.

Heartworm Disease – If you have adopted a dog from the South, it is very important to ensure your dog does not have heartworm disease.  Even if your dog tested negative prior to adoption, that is no guarantee that your dog will not develop heartworm disease.  Therefore it is very important to use heartworm preventative once you have adopted your dog, and to discuss these risks with your veterinarian.

During my career as a veterinarian, I have seen many newly adopted patients that have had health issues.  Most commonly, I see cats and dogs who initially had negative fecal tests but are positive when we re-test them.  This can happen because animals sheds eggs in their feces intermittently and thus the prior test did not detect them or the animal became re-infected after their initial deworming.

Just in the past few years, I have had two kittens with heart murmurs that were not detected before adoption, and I had a kitten that was positive for an infectious disease.  Although everything was done to help these three kittens, only one survived past the age of two, which was devastating to their owners.   

At Kedron Valley Veterinary Clinic, we applaud your efforts to help reduce the pet overpopulation problem in the United States by adopting from humane societies, shelters and rescue organizations.  To support you in this, we offer a complimentary first office visit for your newly adopted pet.  We think it is very important to see patients when they are starting their new life with new owners to ensure a good beginning for what will hopefully be a long and healthy life.

If you are interested in our program, we ask that you make the appointment within one month of adoption (ideally within the first two weeks) and provide us with the paperwork from the organization that you adopted your pet from.  Please note that there may be additional costs for fecal exams, deworming and vaccines. Please call our clinic for details of this program and most importantly, enjoy your new pet.