Adopting a new puppy or kitten is a very exciting time, but along with the fun comes a great deal of responsibility. Many people liken caring for a puppy or kitten to having a newborn baby, and it is easy to see why. Baby animals need even more looking after than adult pets, and you will need to ensure that your new furbaby is growing and developing normally and teach them about the world around them so that they can learn to keep themselves safe as they mature. There are some aspects of your pet’s wellbeing that you will always need to be responsible for, such as their preventative healthcare, their diet and nutrition and their safety in and outside of your home.
To help you get started on raising a healthy and happy pet, here’s what you need to know about caring for your new puppy or kitten.
Preventative care is one of your most important responsibilities since it is the best way to keep your pet safe from the many different diseases and parasites that can threaten their health and wellbeing. Whilst your pet is so young, they are particularly vulnerable to illness since their immune system isn’t fully developed.
Preventative care falls into two areas. The first is vaccinations, which your new pet will need to start having as young as 6 weeks old. Since they are unable to receive the full protection in one dose, their vaccines are spread over a few months early in their life. This will build up their immunity to the disease, and once they reach around a year old, they can start to have the full dose vaccinations at the schedule recommended by your vet.
The second element of preventative care is protection against parasites. Vaccinations are ineffective at preventing parasites (except in the case of heartworms which can be kept at bay using preventative injections administered either 6 or 12 monthly). Other parasites require oral medications or topical treatments to be repelled. Your vet will be able to advise you which preventatives are most suitable and how often they should be administered.
Also sometimes referred to as spaying in females or castration in males, this procedure is the removal of the reproductive organs of your pet. This should be an immediate priority for any responsible pet owner as not only will it prevent unwanted pregnancy and be an important step in reducing the huge overpopulation of animals living in shelters across the U.S. but it also has health benefits for your furbaby. Animals who are neutered early on in life are less likely to develop certain serious diseases, including uterine infections, breast cancer, testicular cancer, prostate problems and more. Neutering also helps to prevent some undesirable behaviors in pets, such as urine spraying, aggressiveness, and yowling.
Pets require different diets at different stages of their life, and whilst you have a puppy or kitten, they will need to receive specific nutrition to ensure that they grow and develop normally. Your vet will be able to advise you which food is most suitable for your pet, and how much and how often they should be fed.
Training is another important aspect of caring for a new pet, particularly if you want your household to be clean and happy for everyone living there. Toilet training will be an immediate priority, although it can take some time for animals to become completely successful. Cats tend to learn faster than dogs in this area of their development. You will also need to make your pet aware of the house rules and keep these consistent so as not to confuse your furbaby. Your vet will be delighted to give you advice on training your pet and if needs be, signpost you towards classes that will help.
Microchipping your pet is the best way to permanently attach a form of identification to them. Unless collars and tags, microchips cannot fall off and become lost and cannot be tampered with. Your personal details are also completely safe at all times. Most vets offer a microchipping service and it is recommended that you arrange for your pet to have a chip placed as soon as possible.
If you would like more advice on the best way to care for your new puppy or kitten, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our veterinary experts in Paducah, KY today.