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Preparing for the arrival of a new kitten or puppy is an exciting time. There’s a lot to think about and it’s easy to forget important information. So, we’ve compiled a list of what’s most important when your new family member arrives…

First Vet Visit

When your new pet finally arrives, it’s sensible to start thinking about your first visit to us. For many pets, their first visit will be for a vaccine (more on this next), but if this is a few weeks away, we would encourage a health-check with one of our team first. This ensures your pet is healthy, is treated for worms and fleas, has been microchipped and has no underlying problems – and it’s a great chance for them to visit in a relaxed and friendly manner with nothing nasty happening! You can also ask as many questions as you like – we’re here to help.


We advise that all puppies and kittens (with a very few exceptions for medical reasons) are vaccinated. The diseases we routinely vaccinate against tend to be the most serious and can sometimes even be fatal. In dogs, these are distemper, infectious hepatitis, parvovirus, and leptospirosis. Some may be offered a kennel cough or rabies vaccine too, depending on circumstances. For cats they are calicivirus, herpesvirus, enteritis and feline leukaemia.

Most puppies and kittens are advised to have their first vaccine at around 6-8 weeks of age. This means that they should have had their first vaccine with the charity or breeder before coming home to you. The second vaccine will be due 2-4 weeks later. After this, annual boosters are required to keep your pet protected, although not every vaccine will be given every year. Side effects from vaccines are rare and almost always mild, so the benefits far outweigh the potential risks.


We recommend that all pets are microchipped so that if they ever go missing, you can easily be reunited. In dogs, it is law that they should be microchipped by 8 weeks old, so again, they should be microchipped by the previous holder before you take them. Parliament are looking to pass a law to make cat microchipping mandatory as well, though it is currently not compulsory. We still advise microchipping all cats, though often we implant them when they are neutered at around 6 months of age.

Once microchipped, please ensure that the chip is registered to your name and address. Every time you move address this will need to be updated. This is also a legal requirement in dogs. If you are struggling to do this, ask and we can assist.


The costs of everything are rising, and this sadly includes veterinary care – we have to ensure staff, equipment, rent and utilities are all paid for. The profit we make we try and reinvest to provide a better service for you. This means that even basic care for your new pet can be expensive. If you need more specialist care, referral-level practices can cost thousands of pounds to visit. To help spread these costs and ensure your new pet gets the best care available, we highly recommend getting pet insurance.

There are different types of insurance, depending on what you want covered. We advise doing some research, discussing the options with us and getting the best insurance coverage you can reasonably afford. Unlike car insurance, it is best to stick with one policy for life, so ensure you are happy with the company beforehand.

Socialisation and Classes

Socialisation in young animals is crucial for a youngster to develop into a well-behaved, brave and happy adult pet. Socialisation begins with littermates and mum in the nest, which is why staying with them until around 8 weeks is so important. After this, you will have to provide socialisation yourself. Interact with your pet regularly, provide them lots of safe new experiences and reward positive interactions. Remember that dogs need some time by themselves too, to avoid them developing separation anxiety.

Pets should avoid going outside until they are fully vaccinated (generally 2 weeks after their second vaccination). We advise cats stay inside until they are neutered, to prevent accidental pregnancy and fighting. This can make socialisation before vaccination tricky. For dogs, it is relatively safe to interact with other animals you know are fully vaccinated, such as family or friends’ dogs. Try and avoid unknown dogs. You can also take them outside to see the  . Cats tend to be more independent, so often can manage with basic socialisation at home.

Puppies may also benefit from puppy classes once they are fully vaccinated (including kennel cough) and are old enough. Here they can meet other dogs their own age, have lots of fun and games, make friends and start to learn commands. You can also meet other new dog owners!

Parasite Protection

All dogs and cats should be regularly protected against fleas, ticks, mites, roundworms, tapeworms and other parasites. This is especially true for young animals that are more at risk from disease from parasite infestations, and who may well be carrying parasites from their mothers. Remember, puppies can contract worms while still in the womb, and both puppies and kittens regularly get infected through their mothers’ milk. Heavy parasite burdens can lead to itchy and damaged skin, upset tummies and diarrhoea, lack of weight gain, and the spread of other infectious diseases.

Puppies and kittens should be treated early on, before they come home to you, but we encourage you to maintain a schedule, often every 2 weeks until 3 months then every 4 weeks until 6 months. Protocols vary depending on what product you use so do check in with us! Generally, adult pets should be treated monthly for ectoparasites and every one to three for intestinal worms. Pets that are raw fed, hunt, or eat poo, slugs or snails should be treated more frequently, as they are at a greater risk of catching parasites. Remember that many parasites can also infect humans, so treating your animal protects you too. As an aside, this is one reason why we don’t generally recommend raw food diets, particularly in young animals.


Finally, we have neutering. You might think it’s a little soon to be thinking about this, but it’s worth the discussion now. Unless you are planning to breed from your pet, we recommend neutering most pets.  This is so that your pet cannot become (or make another pet) accidentally pregnant (mating and pregnancy are risky times for animals), they are less likely to roam or be aggressive, and neutering protects against a number of diseases. These include prostate enlargement and testicular cancer in males, and uterine infections and mammary cancer in females.

Cats should be neutered around 6 months of age, though this can be done earlier if they are likely to escape outside, or if they live with an unneutered cat of the opposite sex (yes, even a sibling). Dog neutering age varies depending on the breed: generally, small dogs can be neutered from around 10 months old, medium dogs a year to 15 months, and giant breeds from 18-24 months. There is no upper age limit, as long as the dog is healthy, but the younger they are neutered, the less the risk of associated diseases.

There are some downsides to neutering, of course. All surgeries carry some risk, though this is generally low in young healthy animals. In certain breeds of dog, neutering can increase the risk of certain cancers. Behaviour can sometimes be affected negatively, particularly if dogs are already very destructive or aggressive. Neutering too early can also affect the growth of animals, particularly large dogs again. If you have any concerns, please discuss these with your vet. We also offer a temporary hormonal implant for male dogs that mimics permanent castration, so you can use this as a trial if you are on the fence regarding castration.