Puppies and kittens are cute, but the art of raising a new pet is not without its challenges. Here are some tips on raising a puppy or kitten from our Los Angeles vets to help you get through the first stages.
Preparing Your Home:
It is very important to prepare your home before you bring home your new puppy or kitten. Electrical cords should be secured, and potentially hazardous plants or chemicals should be moved out of reach. Close any vents, pet doors, or other openings that could lead your pet astray.
You must be prepared to begin house training your puppy or kitten as soon as you get him home.
For your puppy, you will need to prepare the crate if you intend to crate-train it. Line it with blankets or a dog bed to make it more comfortable, but make sure it's big enough for him to stand up, turn around, and lie down.
For your new kitten, you will need to have a litter box setup, and it should be in a place that is not blocked off by any doors or gates. It is also a good idea to place it near your kitten's food and water so they get used to going to the same place each day many times a day.
Make sure you have some puppy/kitten training pads on hand to catch any accidents.
Caring for a Newborn Kitten
Between 0 - 4 weeks of age your tiny feline friend is considered to be a newborn. At this stage, they are still learning how to meow, walk, and even regulate their body temperature. If their mother is present, she will be able to do most of the work including feeding. All you would have to do is make sure the mother is in good health and that they are in a warm and safe environment. Make sure the floor of their crate/area is covered with a blanket, and they have a warm bed to lie on.
However, if the kitten does not have a mother the first thing you should do is take them to see a vet. Your veterinarian will be able to determine the health of the kitten and inform you of its requirements.
Keep Your Kitten Warm
If the kitten doesn't have a mother you will have to do more to help keep them warm by using something such as putting a heating disk in the crate or putting a heating pad on low heat underneath a blanket in their cage. You should also make a little nest out of blankets for the kitten to lay in for comfort. You must make sure that the heating pad isn't too hot by touching it with your hands and providing a comfortable place in your kitten's cage/crate that does not have a heating item so they can go there if they get too warm.
You should continue to provide your kitten with a heating source until they are about 6 weeks old because if kittens get too cold they will catch hypothermia, for this reason, their area should be kept at 85°F or 29°C.
Your Kitten's Nutritional Needs
Of course, when caring for a newborn kitten without a mother you will need to feed them and provide them with proper nutrition. You will have to bottle feed your kitten a special kitten formula every 2-4 hours. Every kitten is different, your veterinarian will be able to inform you of the best formula to use, how much to feed them and how frequently you should be feeding your kitten. For kittens to grow healthily, they will need to gain approximately ½ ounce (14 grams) per day or 4 ounces (113 grams) a week.
Never give your cat cow milk and always make sure you are feeding them the same formula. And, for your kitty to digest food properly, it will have to be kept warm.
Your Puppies Nutritional Needs
Look for high-quality puppy food that has been particularly prepared to help puppies develop and grow. The appropriate amount of food is determined by characteristics such as age, size, and breed. It's a good idea to talk to your vet about how much and how often you should feed your dog.
To guarantee enough nourishment for some tiny breeds of dogs, it may be best to free-feed. Toy and tiny breed dogs mature physically faster than larger breeds and can be moved to adult dog food and adult-sized portions between the ages of nine and twelve months.
Larger breeds should be fed many meals each day in appropriate portions to avoid issues like stomach bloat and protein or calcium buildup. Here's a general guideline for a large dog feeding schedule:
- Six to twelve weeks old: Four meals per day
- Three to six months old: Three meals per day
- Six months and up: Two meals per day
Exercise & Play
Bored pets are more likely to engage in aggressive or improper behavior, so provide them with puzzle toys and outdoor exercise (walking, playtime), or proper climbing structures and scratching posts to keep their mind stimulated. Your pet must understand its place in your home, but this can only be accomplished by consistency and a firm, caring touch.
No matter how old your kitten or puppy is you should take them for their first veterinary appointment during the first week they are in your care. Your veterinarian will evaluate the health of your pet as well as inform you of its dietary needs. This also provides you with the opportunity to ask any questions you may have regarding the care of your new family member.
Regular wellness exams allow your vet to assess the overall health and well-being of your pets including their dietary requirements. Your vet will also be able to detect any diseases early before they become severe when they are easier and more affordable to treat.
You also need to make sure your puppy/kitten gets all of its vaccinations and parasite prevention on schedule. Your pet should come in for their first round of shots when they are 6 to 8 weeks old, and you should have them spayed or neutered when they are 5 to 6 months old. This prevents any serious diseases or conditions from arising in the first place.
They can also advise you on puppy and kitten grooming such as tooth brushing and nail cutting, and even show you how to do it. Your veterinarian can also help you with any questions you have regarding care for your pet, such as what kind of food to feed them.
While you're there, you can also try to schedule a 6-month vet checkup to check on his growth and progress. They can also start to give you advice on how to prepare for the adolescent years, which can be difficult for pet owners. This is also a wonderful time to discuss what to expect as your puppy matures into adulthood.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.