Congratulations on your new puppy or kitten! Our goal at Beacon Veterinary Hospital is to help you and your new pet get a terrific start on a healthy, happy life together. Here are a few “healthy firsts” to get you started:

First Home—All pets need a clean, safe environment with shelter from the elements, fresh water, good nutrition, exercise, and socialization.

First Check-Up—As soon as your puppy or kitten is adopted or enters into your family—usually between six and eight weeks of age—be sure to schedule your appointment right away. Please bring a stool sample in a clean container to this appointment, so we can do a fecal analysis to check for intestinal parasites.

First Vaccines—Start the puppy or kitten series at the first check-up. Of course, your new pet will need to see the doctor for a personalized puppy or kitten series schedule.

First ItchNever use over the counter parasite control for your puppy or kitten—it is often toxic. Your pet’s doctor will put together a parasite control plan with you at their first check-up.

First Ride—For pet safety, always bring your puppy or kitten to their appointment in an appropriate pet carrier. Never transport your pet in the back of an open pick-up truck or leave a young pet alone in a vehicle.

First Food—For your kittens, we recommend canned or moist food only—dry food is not recommended at all. For your puppy, good quality puppy food is recommended.

First Yard—Keeping your pets inside with the family helps ensure their health and safety. For those times when your pet will be unsupervised outside, a securely fenced yard is the recommended environment. Roaming freely involves high risk of trauma (being hit by a car, attacked by a dog, an so on). In addition, a free roaming cat or dog is often a nuisance to neighbors and their animals. Keeping your dog on a chain or cable (“tie-out”) puts him at risk if another animal enters your yard, can create unwanted or dangerous behavior in an otherwise stable dog, and has the potential to cause cervical problems. Finally, since many plants are toxic and young pets love to chew, keep them away from all flowers and plants, especially Lilies, Rhododendron, and Azalea.

First Friends—If you already have a pet, a new puppy or kitten (or a new older dog or cat) needs your help getting acquainted to your existing pet. Be aware that this is a new animal coming into your existing pet’s territory. Keep stress levels low in introductions by being patient and progressing socialization gradually. Contact us if you are concerned that your new pet is having trouble integrating successfully into your family. Puppy or kitten class is recommended for every youngster’s socialization in order to head off problems before they start.

First Six Months—The best time to spay or neuter your pet is 4-6 months of age. Why spay or neuter?

  • Promotes health and lifespan – this procedure is very safe and helps prevent cancer, uterine infections, and prostate problems in animals.
  • Helps control overpopulation – many pets are euthanized simply because there is no room in shelters and no one wants to adopt them; spaying and neutering is the single most important thing you can do to change this situation.
  • Reduces or eliminates many problem behaviors – such as urine marking, aggression, wandering and roaming.
  • It’s the law in Buncombe County!
Learn five million reasons to spay or neuter—visit Y2Spay now.

Things to Avoid—Grapes and raisins are toxic to dogs and cats, causing kidney damage and failure; onions and beets are toxic to dogs and cats, causing anemia; acetaminophen (Tylenol) is deadly to cats and extremely toxic to dogs; and most over the counter NSAIDs are toxic to dogs and cats— please discuss with us any “home remedy” or “people food” you may want to try before you offer it to your young pet.

The above list tells you about a few of our “healthy firsts”. We hope you have lots of questions for us when you come for your appointments. Your involvement tells us we have the same goal in mind: quality of life and health for your new pet.

Special note: if your dog or cat is pregnant, please call us now to make an appointment for a prenatal exam; we’ll explain what you need to know about puppy and kitten care during the critical early days immediately after birth.