Puppy/Kitten Exams

Welcome to the new member of the family!

This is an important time for your new pet’s socialization and wellness – getting used to veterinary visits and getting those important vaccines will go a long way toward insuring future health. Here’s some general information about puppy/kitten exams:

  • Visits are scheduled every 3-4 weeks. Your pet’s maternal antibodies leave their systems by about 16 weeks of age, so it’s important to stick to the vaccination schedule so your pet is fully protected.
  • Vaccines are split so only one new vaccine is given at a time (to reduce the small risk of vaccine reactions).
  • We perform fecal testing for parasites and prescribe deworming as needed. We recommend starting all puppies on heartworm and flea and tick prevention at 8 weeks.

Other common topics of discussion during puppy/kitten visits:


While meeting new friends and experiencing new places is important, especially for puppies, we recommend keeping puppies and kittens away from areas where other pets’ vaccine status is unknown. But socializing with other animals that are up-to-date on vaccines is encouraged.


If you’re looking into starting training classes with your puppy, stick with private training until the puppy is 16 weeks or older, or has had their last Distemper vaccination. (We can recommend local trainers to fit each family’s needs.)


Typically this has been done between 5-6 months of age, although one recent study questions whether early spay/neuter for large breed dogs can increase orthopedic issues. Each pet’s case will be evaluated and the best option for timing will be carefully determined.

General care

We can offer assistance with housebreaking, as well as nutrition consultation. We can also provide guidance on common household hazards (like toxins and chewing temptations) that could make your pet sick. Because we come to your home, we can see how your pet interacts with people in a comfortable environment and can help you resolve any issues.

We highly recommend the puppy care book written by the Monks of New Skete: “The Art of Raising a Puppy.”


Vaccines are divided into “core” and “non-core” designations. The core vaccines are the ones every pet should receive. They protect against serious, highly contagious diseases with high mortality rates. Non-core vaccines are given based on a particular pet’s risk of exposure to that illness.

We can also do vaccine titers for pets as they age, to determine whether or not they have sufficient immunity to a particular disease or if they need to be revaccinated.

Core vaccines for dogs:

Distemper (DHLPP or DHPP)
This is a combination vaccine that protects against several different illnesses. The abbreviation DHLPP or DHPP indicates exactly which illnesses the vaccine protects against:

D = Canine distemper virus. A very serious virus with a death rate close to 50% in untreated dogs. It attacks the respiratory, digestive, and nervous system.

H = Hepatitis. A serious disease that affects the liver. (This vaccine is sometimes indicated by A2 in the abbreviation, since it protects against canine adenovirus-2 and adenovirus-1.)

L = Leptospirosis. This potentially serious bacterial disease attacks the kidneys and liver of infected dogs and can be transmitted to humans. Vaccination against this disease is generally considered noncore but may be recommended in areas where leptospirosis is common.

P = Parvovirus. This highly contagious, serious virus has a death rate of close to 90% in untreated dogs. The virus causes severe diarrhea and vomiting, and affects the digestive and immune systems.

P = Parainfluenza. This is a mild respiratory viral disease in dogs.


Rabies is a disease of mammals and is 100% fatal, with no effective treatment. Because this disease can also affect humans, rabies vaccination is required by law in most states.

Non-core vaccines for dogs:


Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness that is common in our area. Several vaccines are available to protect against infection. The initial vaccine requires a booster 2-4 weeks later, and then is given annually. We will help you determine if your dog should receive the vaccine, depending on his or her risk of exposure. We may also recommend testing your dog for Lyme before administering the vaccine.


The bordetella vaccine protects against a bacterial respiratory disease commonly referred to as kennel cough. This vaccine is recommended for dogs that are frequently around groups of dogs – at dog parks, boarding kennels, the groomer, etc. The disease is highly contagious and easily transmitted through the air or the environment.

Core vaccines for cats:

Feline distemper (FVRCP)

This combination vaccine protects against three deadly airborne viruses: rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia.

Rhinotracheitis is caused by the common feline herpes virus. Symptoms include crusty eyes, sneezing, runny nose, and drooling. It can be fatal if left untreated.

Calicivirus has similar symptoms, and can also cause mouth ulcers. It is more common in kittens or senior cats.

Panleukopenia, commonly known as feline distemper, is very serious and is easily transmitted from cat to cat. It progresses rapidly and can be fatal. Symptoms include fever, vomiting and bloody diarrhea. It’s more commonly seen in kittens.


Rabies is a disease of mammals and is 100% fatal, with no effective treatment. Because this disease can also affect humans, rabies vaccination is required by law in most states.

Non-core vaccines for cats

Feline leukemia (FeLV)

This virus affects the cat’s immune system, and usually causes anemia or lymphoma. Affected cats don’t usually show any symptoms, but can pass the virus along to other cats. There is no treatment for this fatal disease, although cats can live with it for years. This vaccine might be recommended if your cat goes outside and could come into contact with other cats that could be carriers of the virus.