New Holiday Pet? Ask Your Vet!

If you’ve committed to bringing home a new puppy or kitten this holiday season, remember that they will need to be checked out by a veterinarian! Be sure to choose your veterinarian wisely, as establishing a regular veterinarian is vital to keeping your pet happy and healthy. Here are just a few things that new pets will need from their veterinarian beyond the initial physical exam.

For Kittens:

1) FVRCP vaccine:   This multi-faceted vaccine protects against several different feline diseases including feline herpes, an upper respiratory infection called calicivirus, and feline distemper.  Feline distemper is a highly contagious and life-threatening viral disease. It affects the rapidly dividing blood cells in the body, primarily the cells in the intestinal tract, bone marrow, and in the stem cells of the developing fetus.  Every cat should have this vaccine at about 6-8 weeks of age and the vaccine will need to be repeated every 3-4 weeks until he or she is about 16 weeks old.  This vaccination will need to be boostered annually; once your cat is 3 years old, this vaccine will only need boostered every 3 years.

Feline distemper is often not caught in time! Early on, the symptoms can mimic other illnesses; Marye Audit writes about the most common symptoms here. 

2) Feline Leukemia vaccine: This viral disease commonly causes anemia, compromised immune systems, and is the number one cause of cancer in cats.  Recommended to get when the cat is 10-12 weeks old, this vaccine is at your veterinarian’s discretion. Your kitten will also need a second vaccination 3-4 weeks after the initial vaccine and then annually for the rest of his or her life.

Check out this article for more information on feline Leukemia: 

For Puppies:

1) DHPP vaccine:  This vaccine protects against  5 different diseases–Distemper, Hepatitis (Adenovirus), Panleukemia, and Parvo.  These diseases are highly contagious and can be carried by wildlife as well as other dogs.  This vaccine can be started at 8 weeks old and will need to be boostered every 3-4 weeks until 16 weeks of age.  It is also sometimes listed as “DAPP” or given in combination with a Leptospirosis and/or Coronavirus vaccine (DHLPPC).

While the symptoms for these diseases can vary, check out this article for more details on the signs and symptoms.

2) Leptospirosis vaccine: Easily transmitted by wildlife in your back yard, the Leptospirosis bacteria can wreak havoc on your dog’s body.  Common symptoms include vomiting, dehydration, shivering, weakness, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, irregular heartbeat, and renal failure.  This vaccine should be given at 12 weeks and then boostered 3-4 weeks later.  As adults, it is recommended to re-vaccinate annually.

To learn more about Leptospirosis, click here.

3) Bordetella vaccine: The diseases commonly known as “Kennel Cough” is a lot worse than the common human cold.  Characterized by a persistent cough, watery nasal discharge, and even retching, this diseases is preventable through vaccination.  The initial vaccine is typically given at 8 weeks of age, then boostered every 3-4 weeks until 16 weeks of age.  As adults, the re-vaccination frequency varies.  If you frequent dog parks, doggy day care, etc., it is recommended that this vaccine be boostered every 6 months; otherwise, yearly re-vaccination is typically good enough for adults.  Note that there are two versions of this vaccine: an intranasal (up the nose) and an injectable.  Check out more information on Kennel Cough here!


For Both Cats & Dogs:

1) Rabies vaccine: This scary disease is an inflammatory infection that specifically affects the gray matter of the pet’s brain and its central nervous system.  Both felines and canines should be vaccinated anywhere between 12-16 weeks of age and then annually as adults.  Dogs also have the option of being vaccinated every 3 years as adults.  Rabies can be transmitted to humans and it is required that your pet be vaccinated against Rabies in Cuyahoga County.  


2) Flea, Heartworm, & Intestinal Parasite prevention: Fleas are not only irritating and difficult to get rid of, a severe flea infestation can do some serious damage to a small puppy or kitten.  Heartworms, on the other hand, have a high fatality rate.  Plus, heartworm is very expensive to treat in dogs and there is no treatment for cats.  Intestinal parasites (like roundworms and hookworms) not only leech away nutrients from your pet, but also damage the intestinal tract.  With a simple pill or topical product given once a month, all of these nasty parasites can be prevented in your cat or dog!


Here at Emerald Animal Hospital, we offer all of these services as well as behavioral advice and diagnostic services.  We want your new puppy or kitten to celebrate many holiday seasons to come!  Give us a call at 216-749-7161 to set up an appointment for your new family member today!