Puppies & Kittens

puppieskittens

Recommended Toys

Our Vets recommend these toys and leashes for your pet.

Many owners use a harness, however it “harnesses” a dogs power, allowing them to throw their weight into the leash and drag the owner along.

Standard collars & choke chains put to much force on the throat and cause trauma to both the throat and neck.

Our recommendation is The Gentle Leader. It uses gentle steady pressure on the nose to lower the head and provide good control.  It also  gives a gradual indication that the pet needs to slow down rather than the sudden jolt they get with collars and harnesses.  These can be purchased at most pet stores and come with a DVD to explain their use.

Toys

These need to be designed to engage the dog or cat’s brain.  Puzzle type toys that the pet has to figure out to get to the treat inside are ideal.. The Kong toys are most well known but there are many others that may suit your dogs needs better.

Cats

Please see the Kitty Pages for special cat resources!

Tips to a Happy Puppy

Happy dogs equal happy owners.  There are a number of factors, that contribute to this relationship.

First, the dog being a part of the family.  Dogs have been domesticated to the point where they generally consider their family to be their pack.  Pets relegated to the back yard, even with another dog, is not a happy dog.  They want to be with the family and will ultimately be better behaved when they are not starved for attention.

Second, exercise and plenty of it.  Walks and playtime.  No dog or puppy can be well behaved if they have no acceptable outlet for their energy.  This includes mental exercise.  Toys that are puzzles and exercise that works the brain such as agility training.  All breeds and sizes love this sport!  Walks are not just about exercise.  The first part of every walk should be at the dog’s pace.  Time for them to explore their world through their noses!  Imagine if you never left the house (except to go to the doctor!)  You might go stir crazy too.

Consistent, gently applied rules.  Acceptable dog behavior is different for every owner.  I believe in treating dogs like dogs (ok, so maybe dogs that live very, very well!)  But, treating them too much like children, often results in frustrated owners.  Like children, dogs respond very well to consistency and schedules.  We can help with small suggestions that applied consistently, can change the dynamics in big ways.

This is not about training per say.  Training rarely solves the frustration some owners feel.  And by the way, training must always involve the owner.  Dropping the dog off at training while you go to work, is a waste of money.  Training for the average pet, is mostly about training the owner, as much as the dog!

Pet Vaccination Health Schedules

Dr. Chris Bryant, a Veterinarian in Georgia, explains a vaccination & health schedule for your new pet.

Vaccines for puppies and kittens are started at 6 weeks of age and repeated every three weeks until they are about 16 weeks old.  This allows enough time for the puppy or kitten’s immune system to have responded multiple times to the vaccine to assure long term antibodies are produced and yet allows enough time between vaccines for the immune system to work then rest before the next exposure.  It generally takes about two weeks for the body to adequately respond to a vaccine.

Every puppy and kitten is also dewormed several times throughout this vaccination process.  Intestinal parasites, or worms, are passed from the mother and are in the soil in some cases.  Many intestinal parasites can cause problems for people too, so we deworm even if tests are negative.  These tests are still important though.  The most common dewormers will not eliminate every type of worm and there are other common infestations such as cocidia or giardia, that also require different medication.

Finally, puppies and kittens should be spayed or neutered prior to 6 months of age if at all possible.  (see spay/neuter under the general health category)

Microchipping is another recommendation that helps to reunite lost pets with their owners.  This can be done any time and at any age, but is often done at the time of their surgery.

Why Vaccinate My Pet?

Newly born puppies and kittens are very susceptible to many diseases.

The only protection they receive is from their mother in the form of antibodies.  Not all mothers have good immunity themselves however, so they are unable to pass much protection on to the babies.  Even if the mothers have good immunity or antibody levels, this protection is very short lived.

The kitten or puppy must begin to make their own antibodies to protect themselves lifelong.  The only way for a new immune system to form antibodies is through exposure to the disease itself, which of course is dangerous in some cases and fatal in others, or through vaccinations.  Vaccinations stimulate the immune system to create antibodies to specific, common diseases seen in cats and dogs.

The period between losing protection from maternal antibodies and the young making their own antibodies, is very high risk.  For this reason, we recommend having new pups and kittens kept at home or only with other known, healthy animals until their vaccines are complete.

The first time an immune system is exposed to a vaccine, short term antibodies are made.  These will not last long.  The next time the immune system sees this same vaccine, long term antibodies are made.  These will last for months to years depending on the type of vaccine.

The immune system is unable to make antibodies at all if there is still protective antibodies present from the mother.  They prevent the vaccine from working.  So we are trying to squeeze vaccination in after maternal antibodies are gone and yet before the puppy or kitten is exposed to the real disease.  The only way to know this timing for sure is bloodwork that measures the number and type of antibodies present.

This would be very expensive and stressful to the pet.  This is unnecessary in any case as we know that almost all pets are properly protected if the vaccines are begun at 6 weeks of age and repeated every three weeks until 16 weeks of age.