Every year thousands of families introduce a new pet to their home, with puppies and kittens being two of the most popular additions.
But with new legislation on dog ownership coming into force this year and a number of common illnesses affecting dogs and cats alike, vets are offering guidance on how owners of new puppies and kittens can help give their new pet the best care during their life.
Dr Huw Stacey, director of clinical services at Vets4Pets, said: “In April all dogs will legally require a microchip from the age of eight weeks, something that many people may not yet be aware of. Microchipping kittens and cats is strongly advised as they tend to roam, although it is not yet legally required.
“While it may sound like a major procedure, microchipping a puppy or kitten is a quick and painless procedure, taking seconds to complete.
“A sterile microchip, which is smaller than a grain of rice, is inserted under the skin between the pet’s shoulder blades and is designed to last the lifetime of the pet.”
But pet health isn’t limited to just microchipping. According to figures from MSD Animal Health, 55.5 per cent of dogs (4.99 million) and 77.5 per cent of cats (6.97 million) in the UK are not vaccinated against common diseases.
Dr Stacey is encouraging all new puppy and kitten owners to give their pet a healthy start to life by providing suitable vaccinations and treatments; along with microchipping dogs and cats.
He added: “Vaccinating your pet provides it with the best level of care possible and helps to prevent millions of puppies and kittens catching some particularly nasty diseases that can have very serious consequences.
“Puppies and kittens should also receive regular treatments for common parasites, including fleas and worms, for their entire life.
“By vaccinating, microchipping and seeing more puppies and kittens from an early age in vet practices, it should gradually improve the overall health of our adult dogs and cats.
“Worryingly, half of pet owners think vaccinations are not necessary or haven’t even thought about inoculating their pet, while 86 per cent of pet owners would only vaccinate their pet if a disease was present in their local area, which in many cases could be too late.”