Frequently Asked Questions and Answers for New Puppy & Kitten Owners

CONGRATULATIONS!! You just adopted a new puppy or kitten. What’s next? Here’s a list of the most frequently asked questions and their answers. If you have a burning question that’s not covered here, give us a call at 512-VET-CARE (512-838-2273).

In summary, what does my new puppy or kitten need in the first 6 months?

1. Snuggle your new fur baby! 2. Make an appointment with your vet and follow the recommended vaccination and deworming schedule. 3. Give monthly heartworm prevention. 4. Schedule your spay or neuter, and 5. Graduation! Read on for the details…

At what age should I bring my puppy or kitten in for its first vet exam?

You should bring your puppy or kitten in as soon as you get them. It is important to make sure they are well and getting a healthy head start to life! Call us at 512-VET-CARE (512-838-2273) or complete our new appointment request online.

When do I need to send a fecal?

We’ll ask you to bring in a sample when you schedule your first visit. We recommend immediately testing all new pets for intestinal parasites when they come into your home. We are specifically looking for: Giardia, Coccidiosis, Whipworms, Roundworms and Hookworms. If your pet is positive, we will make sure to get the right deworming medication onboard to treat them!

Why do you deworm even if the fecal is negative?

We deworm all puppies and kittens every 3 to 4 weeks with at least the general deworming meds until graduation day (16 weeks) per the Center of Disease Control guidelines. When we check a fecal sample, we are looking at a small sample and testing for eggs, which are shed intermittently. The deworming is a prophylactic measure to ensure all roundworms and hookworms, specifically, are eradicated.

When does my puppy or kitten need Heartworm Prevention (“HWP?”)

Puppies and kittens should be started on HWP at their first vet visit. This is a medication that should be given every 30 days for the life of your pet. Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitos, which are present year round in South Austin and surrounding areas.

When should I vaccinate my puppy or kitten?

First, it is important to have your new puppy or kitten examined first. We want to make sure your new pet is happy and healthy! At your new pet’s appointment, our medical team will review any previous medical history to determine when vaccines are necessary. Typically vaccines start as early as 6 weeks and continue until graduation day around 16 weeks.

What vaccinations does my puppy or kitten need?

Vaccines are determined by the lifestyle of your pet. We recommend all dogs be vaccinated with Rabies, Distemper/Parvo, Leptospirosis, and Bordetella. Our feline companions should be vaccinated with Rabies, FVRCP, and Feline Leukemia.

Why is my new pet’s lifestyle important?

Lifestyle choices can have a direct impact on what vaccines are considered to keep your pet well protected. Additional vaccines that we offer are Lyme, Canine Flu, and Rattlesnake, since these are common conditions in South Austin and surrounding areas.

When do I need to spay or neuter my pet?

Manchaca Village Veterinary Care recommends you spay or neuter your puppy or kitten between 4 and 6 month of age. Doing it during this time frame can prevent unwanted behaviors such as marking and heat cycles.

When can I bathe my puppy?

You can bathe your puppy as early as 1 month of age. We recommend a gentle shampoo (like puppy shampoo, sold at MVVC and elsewhere). Make sure to pay special attention not to get shampoo in his eyes or ears! It is also important to make sure your puppy stays nice and warm after their bath!

When can a puppy or kitten go out in public?

Your new puppy or kitten should not go out in public until he/she has been vaccinated. Your pet is not considered “fully vaccinated” until 2 weeks after they receive their final vaccinations.

Can puppies and kittens have allergies?

It is very unlikely that your puppy or kitten is under attack from allergies. If your new pet appears to be suffering from allergy-like symptoms, we recommend a comprehensive exam with a doctor to look for signs of upper respiratory infection, fleas, or mild skin infection.

How do I keep my puppy or kitten from biting myself or others?

If your puppy or kitten is displaying inappropriate biting, it is important to redirect their attention to an appropriate chew toy. Getting your puppy into an age appropriate puppy class can also help deter unwanted behaviors.

How do I keep my puppy from chewing?

Redirection is key to deterring unwanted behavior. Make sure you are providing your puppy with plenty of chew-appropriate items in addition to supervision. Providing energy outlets, like walks and playing fetch can also help with unwanted behavior.

If I want to train my puppy, when should I start?

You can start training your puppy as soon as you get him! A well mannered pooch is a happy one. We recommend starting with basic commands like “sit” and “shake” in addition to crate training.

Is crate training necessary for my puppy or kitten?

Crate training is ideal for puppies because you are creating a “safe zone” for them to relax. This can be beneficial when you travel with your pet, head to the vet, or need to board your pet. It also prevents them from getting into mischief when you are not around to supervise.

Why does my puppy eat poop?

Dogs are not discriminatory about what they eat. They will eat anything that smells good, bad, or terrible! You can discourage this behavior by picking up feces right away.

When does my dog need pain medication?

Seek medical attention before giving your pet any pain medications! Do not give your pet over-the-counter medications, such as baby aspirin! These medications can cause liver and kidney failure.

When will my puppy or kitten start teething?

Puppies and Kittens will start growing their baby teeth soon after being born. Around 3-4 months of age, puppies and kittens will begin losing their baby teeth as their adult teeth begin to erupt. It is not uncommon for some baby teeth to be retained in smaller breed puppies. Sometimes surgical removal is needed, ideally at time of spay or neuter.

How do I socialize my puppy?

It is very important to begin socializing your puppy at an early age. Socializing can be with other people or animals. When socializing with other people, it is good to introduce your puppy to a variety of statures, men with hats, men with beards, women with long hair, etc.

When socializing with other pets, we recommend puppy classes (where age appropriate vaccines are required) or with pets of known vaccine status. It is also a good idea to expose your puppy to friendly cats.

How do I socialize my puppy if they can’t go to dog parks or daycare?

You can still properly socialize your puppy at puppy classes (that require age appropriate vaccines) or with family/friend pets that are currently vaccinated. The goal is to reduce your puppy’s exposure to distemper/parvo through the environment and from unvaccinated dogs.

When should I start brushing my new pet’s teeth?

You should start brushing your puppy/kitten’s teeth as early as possible. We recommend using a finger brush, and making teeth brushing time a fun treat. Being able to brush your pet’s teeth daily can greatly improve your pets oral health and prolong the need for routine dental cleanings. Our staff is always happy to show you how this is done.

Puppy and kitten food: How much do I feed? What brand do you recommend?

Rule of thumb: Follow the directions on the package, but we can help tailor quantity for your pet’s needs in person. As for what type of food, we recommend feeding a diet that has AAFCO feeding trials and are specific for puppies or kittens. We prefer Purina Pro Plan diets.

How long does my puppy or kitten stay on puppy/kitten food?

Your puppy or kitten should be on puppy/kitten food for the first year of their life. We can talk to you about how and when to transition to adult food.

There is so much to know! I’m worried I’ll miss something!

Don’t worry! We at Manchaca Village Veterinary Care are here for you every furry step of the way! We are ALWAYS happy to guide you along, whether it’s advice over the phone or during your visits. At your wellness visits, we will give your pet a comprehensive exam and remind you about any issues that require your attention. We even have a smartphone app that keeps track of your pet’s history and allows you to schedule appointments among many other features. We will be your pet parent partner throughout your new puppy or kitten’s life!


Dr. O goes over some fundamentals in this brief video: