If your family added a furry member over the holidays, it is probably safe to say that your days have been filled with laughter and love! It is not hard to fall in love with a puppy or kitten. Puppies and kittens need more than hugs and snuggles. While it is important to make them feel comfortable in their new home, we must think about their psychological and medical needs. When we talk to new owners we often hear the statement that the breeder said the pet is “up to date” with their medical needs. Typically, that means the pet has had the vaccinations and/or parasite medications that were needed prior to the new owner acquiring the pet. Based on the age of the puppy or kitten, routine vaccinations to prevent contagious diseases should be given once monthly until the pet reaches the age of 4 to 6 months depending on how many vaccines have been given. Most vaccinations need two to four doses to be effective. Indiana law requires a Rabies vaccine to be given to all dogs and cats at least 3 months of age and older. Once we get through the baby booster series, annual vaccines are given to keep our pets healthy.
Parasites are another topic that we discuss routinely with our pet parents. Some parasites are visible to the naked eye and some are not. Puppies and kittens can be born with intestinal parasites that can be contagious to humans. It is common to de-worm pets multiple times especially during the early stages of their lives. Fleas and ticks are parasites that can cause problems with our pets such as anemia, intestinal worms (tapeworms) and transferring disease to our pets such as Lyme disease, just to name a few. Veterinary medicine has come a long way in developing safe and effective parasite prevention medications. Another topic that we discuss with our new pet parents is heartworm disease, which is spread by mosquitos and can be deadly, but it is easily prevented.
Even though we spend many hours playing with and caring for our new fur babies, there are times when we cannot be with them. Our pets can experience anxiety when we leave them or when we put them to bed for the night. Adaptil is a synthetic pheromone that mimics the one that is secreted by nursing dogs to calm puppies. Feliway is the pheromone product that we use for cats and kittens. These products can be used to help during the transition period to your pet’s new home. The website www.Positively.com has many useful articles and tips for new pet owners.
Proper nutrition is another item that is commonly discussed during a visit to your veterinarian. We want to start your new pet on the right nutritional path from the beginning. It can be overwhelming to go to the pet food/treat aisle in the local store. There are great diets that have a lot of research behind them but there are “fad” diets as well.
Our pets offer so much to our lives! It is our job to care for and love them. While it can be challenging in the early days with housetraining, chewing and puppy/kitten proofing our homes, the rewards of having pets in our lives cannot be measured. The unconditional love they give us cannot be substituted. Your local veterinary team is here to help your pet “Live their Best Life Now”.
By: Tammy Campbell, RVT