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Owning a new pet for the first time is often a challenging experience, and can often be a handful for those experienced pet owners too. On this page, we have supplied a general guide to owning a new puppy or a kitten, with some do's and don'ts, and included some general informative questions that all pet owners need to know the answers to.

The following are some questions to consider when caring for your new pet.
 
WHAT WORM CONTROL IS NEEDED?
 
Dogs and cats can be infected with Roundworm, Hookworm, Whipworm and Tapeworm, all of which can cause significant damage to the digestive system. It is worth knowing that:
 
For your pet:
  • Pups and kittens can be infected with Round and Hookworm larvae whilst in the uterus or from the milk.
  • Hookworms can kill young pups and kittens by blood loss.
  • Roundworms can cause abdominal pain, fever and diarrhea.
  • Tapeworms can be carried by fleas and cause an itchy bottom.
For you:
  • Hookworm larvae can cause dermatitis.
  • Roundworm larvae can infect children and migrate to the eye.
  • Hydatid Tapeworms are a danger to humans causing cysts throughout the body which can be life threatening.
  • Tapeworm segments are usually the only worms you see and look like moving cucumber seeds.

Recommendations for Worming

Age Worming Frequency
2 – 12 weeks           
Every 2 weeks
3 – 6 months Every Month
After 6 months Every 3 months
NB: For farm dogs it is recommended that they are wormed every 6 weeks alternating between an all wormer and a tapewormer to give full cover against Hydatid disease. Hydatid disease cycles through dogs when they eat infected offal from sheep and kangaroos. Therefore any town dogs which may scavange should also be wormed every 6 weeks. In households with young children it is worth considering the 6 week worming program as well to be completely safe. The Hydatid Tapeworm eggs can survive for a long time on the dogs coat around their tail and anal area.
 

WHAT VACCINATIONS ARE REQUIRED FOR DOGS?                                                                                                           
 
In dogs we vaccinate against Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvovirus which are all highly contagious and potentially fatal diseases. It is also wise to vaccinate against Canine Cough (Kennel Cough) which causes a hacking cough and while non-fatal causes considerable discomfort. Canine Cough is caused by two organisms, Parainfluenza (included in our vaccination with Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvovirus) and Bordetella Bronchiseptica (which is given separately). Vaccination against both is required for full Canine Cough immunization.
 
Recommended vaccination schedule:
 
 
6-8 weeks                 Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus and Parainfluenza
12 weeks Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza and Bordetella (Protech).
Yearly Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza and Bordetella.

NB: Your pup is not fully protected until 2 weeks after its last injection and should be kept isolated from other unvaccinated dogs during this time. The above  schedule for puppies is for the Protech range of vaccines. Other types of vaccine may require a third injection at 16 weeks.

 
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WHAT VACCINATIONS ARE REQUIRED FOR CATS?                                                                                                           
 
In cats we used to be limited to vaccinating against Cat Flu and Feline Enteritis. Cat Flu causes sneezing, runny eyes and mouth ulcers with fatalities usually being confined to kittens and older cats. Feline Enteritis is a potentially fatal disease causing diarrhea. Now we are also able to vaccinate against Feline Leukaemia Virus which is incurable and potentially fatal causing blood disorders and tumours. It is transmitted from mother to kitten or by Aerosol contact (hissing, spitting, fighting) between cats.
 
Recommended vaccination schedule:
 
6-8 weeks         
Enteritis & Cat Flu
12 weeks
Enteritis, Cat Flu and Feline Leukaemia
Yearly
Enteritis, Cat Flu and Feline Leukaemia
 
 
 
NB: Your kitten is not fully protected until 2 weeks after its last injection and should be kept isolated from other unvaccinated cats during this time.

 
WHAT IS HEARTWORM DISEASE?
 

Heartworm disease is another potentially fatal disease and is spread by mosquitoes which incubate larvae from the blood of an infected dog and then pass them on. This means that all dogs are at risk, even the ones who have no contact with other dogs. Once the larvae are injected they mature to adults and accumulate in the heart causing heart disease with signs of coughing or exercise intolerance. Its prevalence in Esperance is low compared to Perth and areas North, but it is present.
 
Prevention:
 
Either monthly tablets or a once a yearly injection are required throughout he dogs life.
The injection can not be given until 6 months of age. From 6 to 9 months of age it will give 9 months of protection, if given after 9 months of age it will give 12 months protection.
There is no minimum age for starting prevention. Monthly medication is available in tablet or chewable form or as a ‘spot on’ pipette product called Revolution. Revolution also controls fleas, sarcoptic mange and ear mites in dogs and fleas, ear mites and some gastro-intestinal worms in cats. In older dogs it is recommended that a blood test for Heartworm is carried out prior to starting prevention, to ensure that the dog is not already infected.
 
HOW DO WE CONTROL FLEAS?
 
It is important to treat your pet for fleas, even if you do not see them. They only feed on your animal and spend most of their life cycle off the animal. Cats are more tolerant to fleas; however, most dogs will suffer from flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) at some stage in their lives. Once a flea problem is established it can be very difficult to eliminate.
 
 
Points to remember: 
  1. The majority of fleas are picked up from the environment, not from other dogs and cats. However other pets or strays may be the source of contamination to the environment.
  2. Make sure the product you are using for your pet less than 12 weeks of age is safe. Some products are toxic to young animals.
  3. It is necessary to control the fleas not only on the animal but also in the environment. There are many options for flea control. The best option or combination of options for you will vary with the number of pets you have and the environment you live in. Ask us for the best advice on the best flea control program for you. The following are some of the options available.
  • Monthly pipette applications e.g. Advantage, Frontline and Revolution.
  • Flea shampoos – these are a short term measure as they have no residual effect.
  • Daily sprays e.g. Permoxin.
  • Flea powders – these are short term, quite messy and not always effective so we don’t recommend these in most situations.
  • Using a product with an insect growth regulator which will ensure that any flea eggs laid do not develop, e.g. Frontline plus, Sentinel ( Heartworm, wormer and an insect growth regulator)
  • Treating the house with “flea bombs” or use professional pesticide control.
  • Frequent vacuuming, especially under furniture will eliminate eggs and larvae which prefer low traffic areas of the house.
  • Concentrate on garden areas where you’re pet likes to lie. Fleas do not like sunlight, but love dark dirty places. Therefore raking leaves and dirt to expose the underneath to sunlight is a good idea.
  • Block any access to underneath the house as these areas can be “flea pits”.
  • Fleas can transmit tapeworm, so animals with a flea problem should be wormed regularly, until fleas are controlled.
  • It is a must to treat all pets in the household, otherwise the untreated ones will continue to contaminate areas you rid of fleas.

 
DIETRY ADVICE FOR PUPPIES & KITTENS

Diet is extremely important for growing puppies and kittens. There are many commercial foods specially formulated for puppies and kittens. These foods meet their unique requirements and should be fed until 12 – 18 months of age. Kitten and puppy foods are available in dry and canned formulations. Dry foods are less expensive in the long run; canned foods offer a change but ideally should be fed in conjunction with dry foods as feeding only canned foods can result in very dirty teeth.
 
We recommend that you buy food formulated for puppies and kittens. Adult formulations are not recommended since they do not provide the nutrition required for a puppy or kitten. Advertisements tend to promote taste rather than nutrition, so be careful that their influence on purchasing habits is not detrimental to your dog or cat.
 
We recommend that you buy a reputable brand of pet food.

  

FOODS NOT RECOMMENDED FOR PUPPIES AND KITTENS

  • Chocolate
  • Onion
  • Cooked Bones ( however raw chicken wings and frames are recommended)
  • Dairy Products
  • Cows Milk
  • Junk foods – biscuits, chips, lollies, ice cream etc
  • Garlic

Remember, if you have any questions about the health of your puppy or kitten, or even just a general question about animal welfare, feel free to give us a call at Swans Veterinary Service on 08 9071 5777 for some advice. 
 
 

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