Puppy and Kitten Care Tips

Meet Orion and Andromeda!

Last week, Thomas F. Dock, Practice Manager and Veterinary Journalist at Noah’s Animal Hospitals, added to his mastiff family (remember Indy Eleven mascots, Nike & Loki?!)! 

Pets are a very popular Christmas gift, but where do you begin with a new puppy or kitten?

Tom shares tips to help make the new addition to the family as smooth as possible:

  • An untold number of homes welcomed a new pet into their family this holiday season. Sadly, too many of these cute bundles of joy will end up in a shelter, a rescue or possibly not given the proper care and love they deserve.
  • Although the following tips are true at any time of year, they are especially important during the holidays. Far too often, the chaos and traveling of the holiday season can cause big disruptions in a young pet’s life and those disruptions could lead to poor behavior.
  • The first thing to remember for both puppies and kittens is that these are most often 8-12 week old babies, which is somewhat equivalent to a young human toddler. They might be able to put food in their mouth, but they have few other skills for coping in a grown-up world.
  • Kittens are often easier than puppies, especially when it comes to house-training. By nature, cats like to bury any sign that they have urinated or defecated somewhere; so, the vast majority of kittens have already learned this from their mother and we simply need to make sure the kitten understands where the litter boxes are in your house.
  • Puppies, on the other hand, seem to pee and poop wherever they want! The keys to successful house-training are 1) schedule and consistency, 2) observation and 3) lavish praise and saintly patience. First, it is important to get your puppy set up on a regular schedule of feeding, play times and sleep times and a dog crate is a great way to do that.
  • Using a crate helps encourage the puppy to develop bowel and bladder control. You can also help with this by feeding the puppy at the same time each day (yes, even on weekends when you want to sleep in!). This method also takes advantage of a dog’s natural instinct to keep his or her “den” clean.
  • Many puppies are unable to control bowel or bladder for long periods of time (more than 4 to 6 hours) until they are closer to 5 or 6 months old. It’s important to remember this as it can be very frustrating in the early going.
  • Another behavior issue that new pet owners will experience is the chewing or destructive aspect of both puppies and kittens. It’s important to remember that both of these animals explore their world using their mouth and their feet.   Puppies want to chew on things to see if it is tasty or to relieve teething pain.  Distract them with proper and safe toys!
  • Kittens want to get up high and survey the environment. This means that they will be attracted to table tops, counters or even the curtain rod!  Providing a cat tree is a great way of keeping them off other surfaces.
  • Don’t forget routine preventive care. Puppies and kittens are susceptible to many different diseases, and vaccinations will help insure a healthy start to life. Also, follow your veterinarian’s guidelines, and have fecal samples checked regularly.  Puppies and kittens can share nasty intestinal parasites with us and other pets.
  • Keep puppies and kittens safe by hiding electrical cords, Venetian blind strings and other hazards. Using a crate can help not only save your furnishings and belongs, it could also save your pet’s life!

To learn more, go to www.noahshospitals.com.