This time of the year we see many of our adorable, furry, new additions to our pet families. Getting a puppy or a kitten is such an exciting time for everyone involved, and we love seeing our new friends!
When you get a new member of your family, there is always a lot of preparation: new food and water dishes, toys, leashes, a crate for puppies, litterboxes for kittens, and pet food, just to name a few!
The first rule for any puppy or kitten is to be on a puppy or kitten specific food. Read the bag, ensure that it is not an 'All Life Stages' type of food, which is used to feed every age category from a pediatric, to an active adult, to a geriatric, to a nursing mother. It is better to feed an age specific food to ensure they are getting the correct nutrition.
The second rule is, if switching diets, perform a gradual transition over at least a 7 day period. During this 7 days, slowly increase the proportion of new food in the mixture. This can help to avoid some vomiting or diarrhea which can arise with a quick diet change.
Our recommendation with any diet is to ensure the company you are working with has performed research diet trials, this helps to ensure the food is going to be safe for your pet.
It is of the utmost importance that pets are vaccinated, especially puppies and kittens. Our typical vaccination schedule for these pets is vaccines at 8, 12 and 16 weeks of age, then yearly thereafter. At each of these appointments, new vaccines are added, and some vaccines are boosted to provide more lasting immunity. Some animals may be vaccinated earlier, give us a call if you have questions about a vaccine schedule which is appropriate for your pet. We will also discuss lifestyle choices for your pet to determine vaccines outside of the core recommendations which might be needed.
At any pet's first vet visit as well as their yearly visits, we recommend brining in a fecal sample which is less than 24 hours old (and not frozen) for parasite evaluation. Many puppies and kittens acquire intestinal parasites from their parents, through the milk, in-utero, or via feces. Some of these parasites can be transmitted to people via feces, so the sooner we can treat them, the better.
We often prophylactically treat puppies and kittens with broad spectrum deworming treatment for their own and their owner's safety. But, there isn't one dewormer which will treat all intestinal parasites, so the fecal sample is so important.
When you come for your first visit, we will discuss these different preventions, and will recommend something specific depending on their risk levels or what is found on their physical examination.
In order to train your puppy, bring them outside as soon as they wake up, after they eat and drink, and every half hour when you are home. When they urinate or defecate outside, praise them! This can be either a pat on the head, or a treat to eat. If they make a mistake and go inside, don't punish them or yell. Punishment is confusing for a young dog, it leads to fear of their owners since they don't actually link the punishment to the behaviour.
Some owners will hang a bell by the back door, ringing it when bringing the puppy outside. Over time, the bell sound is linked with their visits outside, so they begin ringing the bell themselves. This can help to signal you when they need to visit the facilities.
These cuties are used to playing with their littermates by biting around their head and neck, they translate this behaviour to biting our hands, arms and legs. If you want to 'nip' this behaviour in the bud, it requires patience and dedication from everyone at home. I could write an entire blog on biting, thus I encourage you to check out our website, sign in for a full list of articles on puppies and kittens, including a great article on how to decrease biting behaviours.
There is only so much space I have to write about these important milestones and so much more to discuss. Give us a call if you have questions about your new critters!
South Windsor Animal Hospital
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