Getting your new puppy or kitten is a big responsibility and can be a large adaption toroutines for the family. Always plan the process of getting a new puppy or kitten. Ensure the type and breed suit your circumstances and desires. Never buy a pet on impulse or because it’s cute and always remember to view the pets available at the rescue centre too. There are always abundant numbers looking for a new and loving home.
Getting a new puppy or kitten is a very exciting time as you introduce a new member to the family.
Here are some pointers, help and advice to allow your new puppy or kitten to settle in quickly and happily.
In most cases kittens and puppies are re-homed at around 6-8 weeks of age. At this stage they are very playful, inquisitive and happy to take on new challenges. However it is also a stressful time for your new pet as they are no longer with their mother or littermates and need to cope with being introduced to new people, pets and food types. Give your new pet ample time to settle in and try not to overwhelm them. Quiet often puppies will tend to cry when left alone. It is best to set up the routines and sleeping arrangement from the outset, that you want to maintain. To help them settle in, do ensure their bedding area is warm, sheltered and comfortable, with easy access to food, water and litter trays. Initially leave a radio on for some background comfort and supply lots of toys and treats to keep your new pet interested and occupied. You can also use Pheromone Appeasement Products like DAP for Puppies or Feliway for Kittens.
Puppies and kittens will only show unwanted or destructive behaviours if they are stressed, bored or anxious. By making them as comfortable as possible and supplying interaction, exercise and toys will help prevent these behaviours developing. Remember to change toys from day to day so they don’t become bored with them. It is a good idea to take away favourite toys for a day so that its' unique intrigue is maintained.
What you feed your new pet in its first few weeks is very important. At 6-8 weeks of age a puppy or kitten has only been eating solids for around 1-3 weeks. Maintaining a consistent non-changing diet will allow the intestinal bacteria to establish themselves easily. Using a good quality pet food is also essential. Cheaper supermarket brands are made from cheap ingredients that are not very bio available or digestible. Your puppy or kitten will absorb up to 1/3rd more nutrients from a premium dog food compared to a cheaper variety. Hence you feed a 1/3rd less in volume using a premium dog food and it lasts longer.
Ensure the food is matched to the correct life stage of your. Puppy and Kitten food contains more protein for growth than adult food and also calcium and phosphorus are tighter regulated. If you are getting a large breed or giant breed puppy, it is important to start them on a "large Breed" formula immediately to ensure correct bone growth. "Puppy/Kitten Food" is fed till they are 12 month of age , then change to the "adult" formula.
I always recommend feed a dry food or biscuit formula pet food. Dry food is nutritionally balanced, stores easier, is better for the teeth and is easier to measure out and hence maintain a correct weight.
Starting a young pet on dry food is simple. Often puppies and kittens have never tried a dry food before and its a new texture for them to learn. Simply place some or the biscuits in a shallow saucer of diluted milk. The milk will soak into the biscuits and soften them. As your Puppy or Kitten lap the milk they will take in some of the food and within a week they will be eating the biscuits dry.
This is very important to most new pet owners and can prove very frustrating for all involved if not done correctly. Incorrect toilet training will cause a delay in achieving the goal and often also starts up unwanted behaviours such as puppies eating their own faeces.
Kittens are much easier to toilet train as they are generally born inherently cleaner and will naturally look for a clean litter tray to go in. Simply supply a clean tray with litter and most kittens will use it directly. Some may need to be shown to dig in it and placed in the tray when looking to go to the toilet.
Puppies often need training to learn to go outside to the toilet as dogs don’t understand the concept of indoors or outdoors. This training is simple: your goal is to catch your puppy going to the toilet outside and then give lots of praise and rewards. If you catch your puppy going to the toilet indoors, you MUST just ignore the puppy. NEVER smack or take your pet back to show it its’ mistake. All this does is set up fear and delays the learning process. Your puppy will also think that if you see faeces you get upset so he or she will start eating it to hide it.
So when training, take your new puppy outside as soon as it wakes up, after eating and last thing at night. Walk around for 20-30 minutes till they perform and then give lots of praise and a treat. Very soon your puppy will realise that he or she doesn’t get treats or affection if they go indoors and will start barking to take you outside to see them toilet in order to get a treat.
There are a number of routine veterinary visits and healthcare considerations to take consider and perform throughout the first 6 months of your new pets life. This will set them up for their years ahead.
The most common challenge that all Puppies and kittens face is exposure to parasites. Parasites (intestinal worms, fleas, ticks and most importantly heart worm) all drain vital reserves your growing pet needs for itself and a some of these parasites can also cause disease and ill health.
Fleas can be especially hazardous to new kittens and puppies and moderate numbers of fleas on a small pet often causes substantial anaemia, through blood loss when the fleas feed.
Intestinal Worms also compete for nutrients and some can also cause blood loss in the gut.
Heart worm is a parasite that is transmitted by infected mosquitoes and so can be contracted at a early age. Heart worm however usually takes a long period to cause disease , but inevitably results in lung and heart disease. Heart worm is extremely costly and difficult to treat so is always best prevented than treated.
Ticks suck blood and can cause sever anaemia in young animals, but you do need a lot of them. The Brown paralysis tick however is a more sinister beast in that toxins from in its’ saliva can cause a progressive paralysis of the affected animal and severe disease.
The Good News is that all these parasites and their consequences can be treated and or prevented. The following program for Cats and dogs will keep your new pet safe throughout it's life.
Intestinal worms: treat puppies at 2,4,8 and 12 weeks . Then routinely every 3 months for life.
Fleas: there are a number of monthly spot-on, sprays or chewable tables to prevent fleas. Routine monthly treatment is needed for life. Most products must be used after a set age. “ADVANTAGE Spot on” can be used from weaning onwards, and Frontline Spray ( not the spot on version) can be used from 2 days of age.
Ticks: there are only two effective tick treatments to prevent brown tick paralysis is the dog, Frontline and Advantix. Both must be used at 2 week intervals in Brown tick infected areas. Otherwise Every 4 weeks for other ticks.
Heart worm: most preventions start at 10-12 weeks of age and is continued monthly all year round and for the life of your pet. It is important that if your pet has missed a treatment or heart worm prevention has lapsed for two months that you first get a heart worm blood test performed before re-starting a heart worm control. If starting a heart worm control at 10-12 weeks of age you don't need to get a blood test first.
Intestinal worms: treat kittens at 6,8 and 12 weeks . Then routinely every 3 months for life
Fleas: there are a number of very effective monthly spot on or sprays? Routine monthly treatment is needed for life. Most products must be used after a set age. Advantage can we used from weaning onwards, and Frontline Spray (not the spot on version) can be used from 2 days of age.
Never use flea and tick collars or powders, as they just don't work.
Ticks: Frontline Spray (not spot on version) is the only licensed prevention for Brown Paralysis tick paralysis tick in cats. It is applied at 3 week intervals in Paralysis Tick infected areas, otherwise every 4 weeks for other ticks.
Heart worm: Cats are more resistant to Heartworm infections, but control is important in high prevelance heartworm areas. Most heart worm preventions start at 10-12 weeks of age and is continued monthly all year round and for the life of your pet. It is important that if your pet has missed a treatment or heart worm prevention has lapsed for two months that you first get a heart worm blood test performed before re-starting a heart worm control. If starting a heart worm control at 10-12 weeks of age you don't need to get a blood test first.
There are a number of products that treat multiple parasites with a single dose and these can be very convenient, unfortunately there is no product that does absolutely all parasites. Sentinel Spectrum for dogs does the widest range of parasites (excluding ticks). Advocate and Revolution (dogs and cats) also cover a wide range but don't cover Tape worms or ticks.
Puppies can be vaccinated against Parvo, Distempa, Canine Hepatitis, Adenovirus, Parainfluenza, Leptospirosis & Bordetella. Vaccines are routinely carried out as a vaccination program consisting of three separate injections at 6 week, 10 weeks and 14 week. Exact timing can vary form vet to vet. These are ideal times to have your new puppy examined to ensure it is healthy and to ask all the question that could be concerning you.
Kittens can be vaccinated against Herpes Virus, Calicivirus, Feline Parvo Virus, Feline immunodeficiency Virus & Feline Leukaemia Virus. Vaccines are routinely carried out as a vaccination program consisting of three separate injections at 8 week, 12 weeks and 16 weeks of age. Exact timing can vary form vet to vet. These are ideal times to have your new kitten examined to ensure it is healthy and to ask any question you may have.
De-sexing: Both puppies and kittens are routinely de-sexed or neutered at 6 months of age. The benefit to having your pet neutered is to remove the sex hormones from the system and the behaviours and consequences of that. A neutered pet is more content as it does not have the continual drive to find a member of the opposite sex and to maintain a large territory. This allows your pert to feel happier in its environment and avoids conflicts and aggression between pets. There are a number or health risk and diseases that are also avoided by having your pet de-sexed. Mammary tumours, pyometra, prostate disease, peri-anal adenomas and cancers of the reproductive organs are all avoided.
Neutering or de-sexing your pet involves a day visit to your vets. Your pet will have a brief anaesthetic in which time the surgery will be performed , they often will go home with some medication to control pain and keep them comfortable. In most instances there is very little recovery time needed and your pet will be “ back to normal” the very next day after a good night sleep.
Exercise is very important for all pets. It works the muscles and joints and most important gives much needed mental stimulation. Without frequent exercise pets will become overweight, bored and frustrated. This can often lead to destructive behaviours that can easily be avoided. It is important to start a routine of exercise at a young age soon after getting your new pet vaccinated, so that your pet can be socialised at a young age and not develop aggressive tendencies to other animals and people.
For puppies, once the vaccines are completed then start regular walks to park, these need only be 20 minutes per day but will ensure your puppy is fit and well socialised. If you find your pet to boisterous when being walking and so avoid it, the trick is to walk him or her more often so that they are not so excited when leaving home. They will settle down as the walking become more routine. Making use of Halti or Gental Leader Head collars which are very effective ways of allowing you to walk a large breed dog without being pulled over. Using a Halti or head collar allows you to walk a large dog with the strength of only one finger!
Attending dog behavioural classes or training and “Puppy Pre-school” are ideal ways to socialise your pet early and start with obedience and get that much needed exercise and mental stimulation.
For Kittens exercise is equally important, though cats tend to like a quick burst of activity and then a good rest. Cats will readily walk on a lead and harness if trained, but most cats are happy to get their exercise at home. Playing with your kitten for 10 minutes a day is ideal. There are toys, balls and activity stations that kitten and cats loves to spend time chasing playing with all giving that much needed mental stimulation.