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Kitten Care

 

What vaccinations does my kitten need?

All kittens should start their vaccination series when they are six to eight weeks of age.  The FVRCP vaccine (aka the upper respiratory vaccination) is typically given 3-4 times every 3-4wks until they are 4 months of age.  The Rabies vaccination is administered typically with the last round of vaccinations when they are approximately four months old.  The Feline Leukemia (FELV) vaccination is ideally administered to all cats when they are younger, or at the very least, to all that will go unsupervised outdoors.  When this vaccination is administered to kittens, they receive the vaccine twice, 3-4 weeks apart. 

What should my kitten be fed?

For the first 10-12 months of your kittens life, feeding a high quality kitten food is best to ensure they are eating a well balanced diet meeting their growth-related needs.  In addition, they should have free choice access to water, but milk should be avoided as it can cause both vomiting and diarrhea. 

What is the best way to litter box train my kitten?

Most kittens learn to use a litter box very early without very much difficulty.  Ideally, use a large litter box and place it in a quiet corner where your kitten will not be disturbed or distracted.  Avoid placing the litter box near food and water dishes.  Fill the litter box deep with litter to encourage their scratching and digging behaviors in the box.  To encourage your kitten's use of the litter box, place your kitten inside the box after meals or any time your kitten looks "suspiciously in need".  If your kitten has difficulty and is reluctant to use the litter box vs some other undesirable location, try moving the litter box to a different location or even using a different kind of litter. 

Why does my cat sometimes choose to not use the litter box for urination / defecation needs?:

There are many reasons why your cat might not be using the litter box - sometimes the problem is medical.  Other times, the underlying reason is behavioral.  Ideally it is better to rule out the medical problems such as causes for diarrhea, urinary tract infections, crystal or bladder stone problems, etc. prior to assuming that the problem is due to behavioral issues such as anxiety, introduction of a new pet, a household move, etc.  If your cat is having inappropriate urination / defecation issues, making an appointment to see the veterinarian sooner than later is the ideal game plan to pursue.

Puppy Care

Crate Training Your Puppy

Because puppies have a natural aversion to urinate or defecate in their sleeping place, providing an

indoor kennel (ie. a "crate") has long-standing been used as an incredibly valuable and effective housebreaking tool. A crate can also be a very helpful aid to accomplish the following things for your new puppy:

1.  It can help reduce separation anxiety as your puppy gets accustomed to its new home surroundings.

2.  It can help prevent undesirable and sometimes even dangerous destructive behavior (such as chewing furniture)

3.  It can help keep your puppy from potentially dangerous household materials such as poisons, cleaning supplies or electrical wires

Most puppies and young dogs that have been introduced to a crate grow up to prefer sleeping in their crate. Therefore, contrary to popular belief, a crate should NEVER be used for punishment.

Oftentimes, one might ask where is the ideal location to put my puppy's crate?  Whenever possible, place the crate near you when you are home. This will encourage the pup to go inside it without feeling lonely or isolated. A central room in your home is a good place to crate your puppy.

Initially, a puppy might be intimidated by its new crate and might object to staying in it.  There is nothing harder, I will whole-heartedly admit, than knowing what to do the first time your new puppy is in its crate and rather than resting comfortably, it whines and cries.  Thus, to ensure that your puppy associates his/her kennel crate with comfort, security and enjoyment, I recommend trying the following strategies to help acclimate your puppy to its crate as smoothly as possible:  

1.  Occasionally throughout the day, drop small pieces of kibble or scrumptious treats that your puppy loves into its crate, which will reinforce your puppies positive association with the crate. It is also not a bad idea to feed your puppy in its crate to create the same effect. 

2.  Early on, praise your puppy repeatedly and with gusto when it enters the crate voluntarily. Do not try to push, pull or force the puppy into the crate.

3.It is advisable first to crate your pup for short periods of time while you are home.  In fact, crate training is best accomplished while you are in the room with your dog. This will oftentimes prevent the puppy from making the association that going into the crate translates to being "left alone".

Additional important reminders regarding crate training your puppy:

1.  Always remove your puppy’s collar before confining in the crate. Even flat buckle collars can occasionally get struck on the bars or wire mesh of a crate resulting sometimes in horrible emergency situations.

2.  Be very careful regarding crating your puppy when temperatures reach an uncomfortable level. This is especially true for the short-faced breeds such as Pugs, Pekes,Bulldogs, etc.) as well as for the Arctic / thick- coated breeds (Malamutes, Huskies, Akitas, Newfoundlands, etc.). Free choice water should always be available to puppies, especially during warm weather.

3.  To avoid your puppy having any accidents in its crate, be sure that your puppy has had a good opportunity to urinate and defecate before it is going to be crated.  Also, be sure that the crate you are using is not too large.  Rarely does a pup or dog eliminate in the crate if it is properly sized and the dog is an appropriate age to be crated a given amount of time. If your puppy messes in his crate while you are out, do not punish him upon your return. Simply wash out the crate using a pet odor neutralizer. Do not use ammonia- based products, as their odor resembles urine and may draw your dog back to urinate in the same spot again.

Housebreaking Your Puppy:

House breaking your puppy begins on the first day you bring them home.  In the beginning you will be training yourself to take him outside at the right times.  My best recommendation - get completely crazy overkill with a system, setting a timer to remind you to take your puppy out - possibly every hour on the hour whether they look like they need to go out or not.  You creating the routine and sticking to it consistently will be the best tool possible to help your puppy to understand what is wanted and expected such that before you know it, your puppy will be doing its business outside, every time.  And remember to be patient, puppies are like babies.  They won't get it in the first few days - not even the smartest.  They will make mistakes.  They will make progress and then sometimes have set backs.  Some puppies take up to six months to be totally reliable, but most are trustworthy by four months. Females are generally easier to train than males. It is common for puppies to go “number two” outside long before they reliably go outside to urinate.  This is a matter of physical development. Young puppies don’t get much advance warning of the need to urinate and may not be able to get outside in time. 

 

Here are four helpful steps to house training your puppy successfully:

1.  Be sure that you are feeding your puppy a good quality diet that does not cause him any sort of gastro-intestinal upset or diarrhea.  Ideally, avoid feeding your puppy table
scraps.  In addition, feed your puppy at consistent set times each day.  Typically, puppies will then need to be given the opportunity to go outside 20-30 minutes later.  

2.  Hopefully, as you get to know your puppy's behavior, you will begin to notice how your puppy’s behavior changes just before your puppy needs to eliminate. Some puppies may walk in a circle or run around the room looking for the proper place. for this reason, puppies should not be left free in the house when you can’t supervise him. As described previously, young puppies don't typically get much warning, so you have to be there at the right time. If you can’t watch your puppy, be sure to put them in the crate to hopefully avoid possible accidents.

3.  Do not punish the puppy for eliminating in the house; rubbing his nose in it never helps. If your puppy has a mistake – consider it your mistake.  Ideally, just clean up the mess and next time, watch your puppy more closely and be sure to take it out more frequently to minimize the potential for future accidents.  

4.  If your puppy has an accident in the house, ideally clean up the area with an odor neutralization type cleaning product.  Oftentimes, you can find good products to use in local pet stores.  

FAQ Regarding Puppies:

1.  How soon does my new puppy need to see a vet?

There's no time like the present!  Ideally, as soon as possible. Many breeders and adoption agencies will have something
like a 48-hour guarantee, so you want to get it done in that time. But even without that, you still should get the puppy in within the first couple days. That way, if there’s something wrong, we can catch it early and get it before it becomes a big problem.

Getting your puppy into the vet as soon as it is acquired also gives you the opportunity to start off on the right foot with your puppy right out of the starting gate.  During the vet visit you will have the chance to gain a great deal of knowledge about such topics as deworming, feeding strategies, vaccinations, the financial aspect of owning a pet
and everything else they can be expected throughout the pet’s life.  And be sure, even before your visit, to compile a list of all your questions.  At Damonte Ranch Animal Hospital, we really want to educate people on the responsibility they are taking on and everything that goes along with it. Understand that this is a lifelong commitment. This cute puppy is going to grow up and that’s going to require a lot of patience and financial commitment. 

2.  What puppy vaccinations will my new pet need?

Your puppy needs 3-4 sets of DA2PP puppy shots. The first set is usually given at approximately 6-8 weeks of age, and there is a 3-4 week interval between each set.

The DA2PP puppy shot is a combination vaccine that protects against four separate diseases: Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza and Parvovirus.

In addition to the DA2PP vaccine, sometimes we recommend puppies to be vaccinated with the Bordetella vaccine - a series of 2 vaccines administered 3-4 weeks apart. This vaccine protects against the commonly known problem of “kennel cough.” It is a vaccination required if your puppy later down the road will be boarded. Other important reasons to vaccinate with this is if later your puppy will be socialized - dog parks, playgrounds (but not until all the DA2PP's are finished), groomers, training classes, etc.

The rabies vaccine is generally administered with the last round of vaccines when your puppy is approx. four months.

3. What’s the best way to potty train a puppy?

The simplest and easiest way to housebreak your puppy is by using a crate, which works with your puppy’s natural instincts and helps speed up the whole potty training process. (For more information, see Damonte Ranch Animal Hospital’s Crate Training Section).

4. How do I choose the best food for my puppy?

You should be feeding your puppy a good quality puppy kibble three times each day up until they are about 16 weeks old.  Avoid diets that claim to feed all stages from puppy hood to their senior years. Also, the least expensive foods available are worthy of avoidance as well because they tend to be made from poorer quality ingredients. You need to be sure the dog food you pick has a significant source of high-quality protein listed as its first ingredient. Puppies grow rapidly, and to support that growth they need a diet high in protein, fat, vitamins and minerals. Protein values should be around 25% or more and fat should be listed at around 15%. If you have a large breed or small breed puppy, look for a puppy food that is especially designed to meet their specific requirements.  There is not "one" dog food out there brand-wise that all puppies should eat.  It is important to find a diet that your puppy likes, doesn't cause gastro-intestinal upset and is affordable and convenient for your family to purchase.  Sometimes too it may take a little experimentation as well as trial and error until you find what your puppy loves the most.  Just remember, when planning on switching diets, make a gradual transition, slowly blending out with the old and and in with the new.

5.  How do I know if my puppy has worms, and what do I do about it?

It is very common for puppies to have worms and if you are a new puppy parent, it’s something you may well have to deal with. Some worms can be seen in your puppies feces, and in severe cases of roundworm infestation your pup may even have worms in its vomit.  Treatment for these types or worms is fairly straightforward. First, diagnosis of which type of worm your puppy might have is made after you submit a sample of your puppy's feces to the vet for a fecal analysis.  Next, the appropriate de-wormer will be prescribed by the vet.  Do not use over-the-counter medications, as they can be ineffective or even harmful.

6.   How can I train my puppy?

Taking the time to train your puppy correctly will lead to happier and healthier relationships for your family.  What we suggest is going to your library and picking out a book on training through positive reinforcement.  Also, there are many reputable training classes available in the area.  

 

“The best kind of alarm clock is the purring kind.” ~Terri Guillemets

"Animals are such agreeable friends - they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms." - George Elliot