By Dr. Ryan Bullock
The Holidays are a popular time for families to acquire new pets, so I thought it would be a good time to go over a few pointers for new puppy and kitten owners. Whether you purchased your puppy from a breeder or adopted it from an animal shelter, the advice given to pet owners from breeders and shelters isn’t always as accurate as we would like.
- Take your new pet to be examined by your veterinarian as soon as you can after adoption. This should be done even if vaccines are not due or if you are told that vaccines are “current”. There are many more things a veterinarian checks on your pet other than vaccines. Plus, many times breeders or shelters are not correct with their vaccine protocol or unable to offer all vaccines needed. Besides making sure your pet is healthy, your veterinarian will also have a lot of great advice about raising a puppy / kitten.
- Have your veterinarian to perform an intestinal parasite test (fecal test) even if the breeder or shelter has “dewormed” your pet or performed their own testing. Intestinal parasites are very common in puppies and kittens (50% are positive) and the over the counter dewormers used by breeders/shelters don’t usually work as well as something your veterinarian uses. Hookworms and roundworms are very common and can infect people – usually small children who forget to wash their hands. Puppies and kittens many times also have intestinal infections with protozoal organisms such as coccidia and giardia that are not treatable with dewormers. Oh, and help your new little buddy out and try to remember to bring a fresh fecal sample to the vet. This will save the clinic staff from having to “get” the sample.
- Feed a high quality “puppy / kitten” food. Puppies and kittens need a higher fat content than adults because they are growing so fast. Adult foods are not ideal in supplying puppies and kittens what they need during this critical developmental period. Don’t worry about getting a grain free, gluten free, etc diet as it is virtually impossible for a puppy or kitten to have developed an allergy to these ingredients. Three brands that I recommend are Hill’s Science Diet, Eukanuba, and Royal Canin.
Congrats on your new puppy or kitten, follow these tips and those of your veterinarian and you’ll be starting off on the right paw!