Welcome to the A-Z Challenge! This year my theme is pet health - information for people about their furry, four-legged family members.
So many people every year adopt or purchase a new puppy or kitten. And so many of those people are either first-timers in puppy/kitten owning or haven't done it in 15 years. Here are a few tips to help you with your newest family member:
1. If you're thinking about buying or adopting, buy a book on puppies/kittens; if looking at specific breeds, get a book about that breed. Many people buy or adopt because they like the idea or look of a breed, but they don't know any specifics and later can cause issues. Many breeds these days have genetic issues due to inbreeding (I'm not naming any one breed because anymore they all have something wrong somewhere) - such as hip dysplasia, autoimmune diseases, brittle bones, etc.
2. If you've adopted your new pet, ask your local pet store if they offer any coupons. Some of the big retail giants like Petco or Petsmart may offer coupon booklets for start-up necessities such as toys, litter boxes, food, treats, or collars and leashes. Make sure to take paperwork for proof of adoption.
3. Once you've brought your new animal home, keep it there. This is especially important for puppies as Parvo is a very contagious and dangerous virus that puppies can get. Stores like Petco and Petsmart allow patrons to take their animals in the store - if you feel that you must do so, keep your new puppy/kitten wrapped in a blanket or towel, or keep in your arms. Just like people can catch colds or the flu from touching contaminated items, so can your new puppy/kitten. It is recommended that you do not take your new puppy to the park or other high traffic dog areas until it's completed it's vaccine program.
4. Ask your veterinarian about their vaccine program for new puppies/kittens. Many offices will offer a puppy/kitten package. One clinic I worked for, their package was $100, which included four DHLPP or FVRCP/FELV vaccines, the first Rabies vaccines, the initial exam fee, and four dewormings, PLUS you would get a free sample of puppy/kitten food, a free sample of Frontline and Heartgard, as well as a booklet with coupons. The savings added up to nearly $100. It is recommended that your new puppy and kitten get at least a series of three of their vaccines, some offices may suggest four vaccines for better immunization (puppies - DHLPP, kittens - FVRCP/FELV).
5. Once your puppy has had its required vaccines, take your puppy to training classes. This is important for your puppy to learn social skills as well as learn how to obey basic commands. If you already have noticed behavioral issues, you can also talk with your veterinarian or puppy trainer to resolve them.
6. When your puppy or kitten is of the proper age, it's a wise idea to have it spayed/neutered. Not only for pet over-population (more than 12 million unwanted pets are euthanized every year), but for health and behavioral reasons as well. Animals that are spayed/neutered are unable to get uterine/testicular cancers, for females mammary tumors are seen less often, and in males, prostate issues are not seen as often. And no, your pet will not gain weight just by being fixed. The average age for a pet to be fixed is 6 months of age. Some breeds can be different; make sure to talk to your veterinarian about the best time to fix your pet.
7. Most of all, enjoy your newest family member!!
My sources: Pet Health Network, Pet Education by Dr.'s Foster & Smith, as well as my own experience working in large/small animal practices as well as a veterinary laboratory.