Congratulations on your new puppy or kitten. Pets have the uncanny ability to bring joy, laughter and warmth into our lives. But what do you do next? It is extremely important to start your pet out right to make sure that it will be as healthy as it can be.
One of the first decisions for owners is what to feed their new puppy or kitten. This can be daunting considering the number of commercial pet food diets on the market. It’s best is to decide on a quality puppy or kitten food and stick with it. If the diet is different from what the breeder or kennel was feeding, slowly transition to the new food by mixing the old and new diets together for about five to seven days to prevent intestinal upset. Typically, multiple feedings per day are recommended during the growing phases of puppies and kittens.
Once your new puppy or kitten has settled into your household, have it checked over by a veterinarian who will perform a thorough physical exam to detect any potential problems. A vaccination protocol will be set up to protect against serious diseases and a feces analysis will be done to test for intestinal parasites such as worms. Also based on the weight and age of the pet, preventative care for heartworms, fleas and intestinal parasites can be started. This is also an excellent time to ask questions or voice concerns.
Socialization and training are huge during this time period. It is extremely important to introduce your new pet to other pets, people and social situations to prevent fear and anxieties later in life. Bring your new puppy to pet-friendly places and encourage visits from friends and family to interact with your new pet. Potty training is also started during this time. Potty training has to be a positive, reinforced learned behavior. Take your puppy outside frequently and have a small piece of a tasty treat in your pocket. Once your puppy has performed properly, be sure to reward your pet with that small treat right away to cement the concept of eliminating outside equals a tasty reward. Kittens prefer litter boxes with fresh and odor-free litter. Please make sure that each cat has its own litter box.
By Dr. Johnathan Gilvarry, an associate veterinarian at BridgeMill Animal Hospital and contributing writer for Around Canton Magazine.