A guide to your new pet with Pets at Home vet, Dr Karlien Heyrman

Here at Tailster, we don’t think there’s a more exciting time than when you first bring a new pet into your home. Whether you’re bringing home a middle-aged rescue mutt or a new-to-the-world kitten, there’s plenty to consider in the few weeks of your journey into pet parenthood. We caught up with trusted Pets at Home vet, Dr Karlien Heyrman to get the lowdown on how to get your new pet settled.

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Vaccinations for my new pet

First things first, you need to make sure your pet is fully covered for all of their outdoor adventures, whether you’re providing a home for an elderly feline or a brand-spanking-new pup.

“Vaccinations can be given from around eight to nine weeks old in kittens and puppies,” advises Karlien. “Generally, they’ll need a course of two to three injections to protect them for twelve months, and then they’ll require a yearly booster.”

So if you’ve brought home a youngster, pop them down to the vet and get their course of jabs started. Some breeders or rescue centres will have already given your new pet their first dose so if you have a vaccination card to hand, make sure you take that along on your first visit.

If you’re adding an older cat or dog to your family, it’s worth paying your vets a visit to get them booked in for their annual booster to keep them in tip-top shape. It can be tricky when rescuing, but try your best to get as much medical history as you can when rehoming a pet so you have a good idea of what they’ll need and when.

When can my new pet go out and explore?

Watching your new pet explore the great outdoors for the first time is quite the experience – it’s like seeing the world through brand new eyes! But it’s essential that your pet is fully vaccinated before they go out into the big, wide world.

“Puppies and kittens are not fully protected until around two weeks after their final vaccination” warns Karlien. “Though different vets will give different advice, especially for puppies as it’s a trade-off between the risk of not being fully protected by the vaccine yet versus missing out on valuable socialisation time so it’s always best to speak to the vet for an individual risk assessment”

Planning to let your cat roam about outdoors? No problem – but don’t let them out before they’ve been neutered. We’ll cover this in more detail below.

Do I need to worm and flea my new pet?

It’s a good idea to keep your new pet up to date on their flea and worming treatments as the pesky little critters can create all sorts of problems. Fleas can cause itching, skin infections and even anaemia in extreme circumstances while worms are ribbon-like parasites that can spread disease in pets and humans – yuck.

“For full flea control, I always recommend that your pet is treated every four weeks all year round although there are some products that last longer. You can check with your vet on which suits you best,” suggests Karlien. “Make sure you always use species-appropriate flea treatment. The ingredients which treat fleas in dogs can be extremely harmful to cats, leading to seizures or even death,” she warns.

Worming puppies and kittens regularly between four and twelve weeks is also essential. Young animals pick up worms from their mum whilst in the womb and suckling. Since their little immune systems are still developing, a single worming treatment just won’t cut it! An adult pet may only need to be wormed once every three months.

Always consult your vet when deciding on the correct dosage and frequency.

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Should I neuter my new pet?

Neutering your pet is a surgical procedure to prevent breeding. If you decide to go through with this procedure, the age to do it at varies between cats, dogs and also between the breed of your pet – especially when it comes to dogs.

In males, the testicles get the dreaded snip – don’t worry, he’ll be under general anaesthetic and none the wiser. Females have their ovaries and womb removed so she’ll no longer be able to get pregnant. She’ll also be season-free which saves countless messy weeks for your female.

Your pet may need to don the cone of shame until the stitches are out but most pets adapt fairly quickly and recover in no time.

“Generally speaking, I recommend neutering your kitten at four months old or over,” Karlien suggests. Cats can get pregnant from as young as four months old. Dogs can be neutered from around six months old. “In some cases, vets may recommend allowing your female to have their first season before neutering but your vet will be able to recommend the best neutering plan for your pet.”

You should also keep an eye on your pet’s waistline post-neutering as their calorie requirement will drop. Help keep them trim by feeding them specially designed food for neutered pets. If you do start to notice your four-legged friend is piling on the pounds, start by feeding them a little less at dinnertime and upping the length of their daily walks.

Do I need to microchip my new pet?

One of the first things you should do as a new pet owner is to get your new buddy microchipped. Microchips are tiny electronic chips about the size of a grain of rice with a unique number that will flag up your address when scanned. They’re injected under their skin, between their shoulder blades, a little like when they have their booster jabs, and designed to last your pet’s lifetime.

As distressing as it is to imagine, pets do go missing. And if yours wanders a little further afield than planned, it’s good to know that it all it takes is for them to be scanned by a vet or shelter and they returned to your loving hands!

By law, your dog must be microchipped, and rumour has it that the law could soon apply to cats too. Just pop down to your vet and they can talk you through the painless procedure which should cost anything between £9 and £20. Your pet’s safety is of course, priceless.

Pet names

Struggling to think of the perfect name for your new pet? Head over to the Tailster Top 100 of pet names now.

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Do you have a new bundle of joy joining the family? Let us know and we’ll match you with a tailored, vetted pet carer to cater to all your new pet’s needs. Find your perfect match now. 

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