Pet Care for Your New Puppy or Kitten
Routine pet care is crucial to keeping our furkids in tip top shape right from the young puppy and kitten stage. Much like people go for dental check ups and take vitamins to keep us healthy, keeping on top of your pet’s medical wellbeing helps ensure a healthy and happy life. Emergency pet care too, but it’s the daily attention that maintains their health and happiness.
From tick and flea prevention to grooming, here’s the routine care that you should commit to for that new addition to your family.
Routine pet care for the win
A great deal of routine pet care takes place at home, such as administering flea prevention, brushing their teeth, clipping their nails and deworming them.
But vet visits are a vital part of it, too. You shouldn’t just be taking your pet to the vet when there’s an accident or emergency. Routine vet visits are a good way to prevent conditions forming or spot major illnesses early. Make sure to schedule (and keep) regular visits to reduce the chance of an emergency happening in the first place.
1. Flea and tick prevention
Fleas aren’t just a summer problem! Even in winter, buildings and houses are often kept warm. That’s great news for us and our paw-tners in crime, but equally good news for those pesky fleas. They love heat.
Although flea eggs (often found in carpets and furnishings) can hatch and irritate your pet in winter, in summer the problem worsens. And they’ll irritate you too. Fleas know no bounds between human and pet ☹
Other than them being a bit gross, fleas can cause significant health problems. Firstly, there’s the itching, scratching, and skin conditions associated. But did you know they can also cause anaemia in pets? It might surprise you that flea anaemia can even be fatal.
Although ticks pose less of a problem here than in Australia, cattle ticks can still attach to your pet and cause dermatitis and discomfort. On rare occasions, paralysis ticks have been found on dogs in NZ too.
While ticks are a lower risk, tick and flea treatment in NZ is often bundled together – it doesn’t harm to take preventative action for both. There are loads of these treatments available nowadays and they come as tablets or liquids; take your pick. The drops to be placed on the back of the neck are especially easy to administer. Adding such treatments to your routine pet care is key to stopping these pet pests.
You’ll probably find you’re administering a treatment every three months or so. When doing so, be very careful to give the correct dose for the size of your pet.
Make sure your dogs and cats are on an appropriate tick and flea schedule for their region. Best talk to your vet about what’s appropriate for your fur baby’s individual circumstances.
2. Dental care
Regular dental care isn’t just for humans. Routine pet care should definitely include dental health and check ups.
Most pet owners don’t do this, but plaque and tartar build up can cause problems. What problems, you ask? Well, you know that stinky dog or cat breath? It might be caused by bad dental hygiene!
Pets can also develop gingivitis, tooth decay, gum disease and even abscesses. Gum diseases can lead to infections which have wide reaching effects from liver problems to heart murmurs.
Pet owners should clean their pets’ teeth at least once per day with a toothbrush and pet-friendly toothbrush. In addition, dogs and cats should have their teeth cleaned professionally at least annually (but sometimes as often as every 3-6 months, depending on your pet). It’s important to start this early in life, to prevent avoidable dental problems from cropping up. Your vet can guide you on when to start these treatments, as well as how often you need to do them.
3. Vaccinations are as key routine pet care
Vaccinations are what most people think of when routine pet care is mentioned. They’re essential for puppies, kitten, dogs and cats. Even horses need annual vaccines.
There are many conditions pets and farm animals need to be protected against. For example, kennel cough in New Zealand is a big one for dogs and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is a big one for cats.
When puppies and kittens are born they usually get some protection from infections via drinking milk from their mothers. As they get older though, they need vaccinations to help them along.
Puppies and kittens will need more regular trips to the vet when they’re young to make sure they’re fully vaccinated. The schedule is normally two to three vaccines given at three to four week intervals initially.
As they grow, you still need to keep up their regular vaccination schedule. They’ll need a booster a year after initial vaccination. From there onwards, your vet can help you plan your dog vaccination schedule and cat vaccination schedule.
The frequency of vaccinations will depend on a lot of factors. For instance, your holiday pet care situation might dictate vaccine schedule. Or, your pet’s lifestyle might. This would all have to be considered in conjunction with how long any given vaccine offers protection for your pet.
Read more about pet vaccinations and schedules in NZ here.
Phew, that’s a lot of things to think about… Managing your vaccine schedule is just another reason to book a yearly check up with your vet! Dr Melanie Bowden says that taking your pet for an annual check up to proactively manage their health is one of the biggest steps you can take to help protect vet mental health.
Worms are a common problem for cat and dog owners. Both are prone to picking up these parasites and there are usually no obvious symptoms. It’s important that you worm your pet regularly as these parasites live in the intestinal tract and can make your pet very sick if left untreated.
The most common types of worms are roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, lungworms and whipworms.
These parasites can be picked up quite easily by your new puppy or kitten, and it can take a bit of time for you to notice them. Sometimes, the initial symptoms can be very hard to spot so worms may go unnoticed even if your pet is suffering from them.
If worms are left untreated, your pet can get very sick. To be sure, the best way to handle worms is to keep on top of treatment as part of your routine pet care.
Puppies and kittens normally need worming every three weeks until they are six months old. After six months old, they can usually be treated every three months. If your cat regularly catches mice or birds though, you might need to worm them more often.
Most wormers nowadays can treat both roundworms and tapeworms at once. You’ll find them in topical (applied at the back of the neck usually) and oral (given to your pet to eat) forms. Your vet will be able to advise you on the best choice for your pet.
5. General grooming and maintenance
Your dogs and cats need a bit of beauty care too! But not just for vanity. Though, could you blame their beautiful faces for wanting a bit of sprucing up from time to time? Some grooming might be for aesthetics, but basic grooming is usually necessary for your routine pet care.
Your pet’s nails for instance, need to be regularly inspected. Some pets have lifestyles which require minimal trimming and clipping of their nails. For example, if you have indoor cats (your cat-scratched couch is probably cringing right now), dogs who don’t go outside too often, or older pets, they might need to have their nails trimmed.
Smaller dogs also tend to be more likely to need their nails trimmed than larger dogs. Keeping nails or claws short and well-maintained will keep your pet comfortable.
It’s also good to keep an eye on your pet’s coat condition. Both cats and longer haired dogs usually enjoy a good brushing, which will stop them from getting matted hair which could cause skin problems.
Unlike cats, dogs can have regular baths, which is also a good time to check them over thoroughly for any sores or lumps and bumps. Tempted to bath your cat? Find out why we suggest you don’t give your cat a bath most of the time. And while you’re at it, speaking of beauty care, check out our 10 ways to pamper your cat.
6. Diet and exercise is a routine pet care must
One of the most important aspects of your pet’s health is diet and exercise. Think of this as the basis that their health depends on – preventative care that will lessen the chance of other health conditions developing in the future.
New Zealand has a pet obesity problem, and it’s not much fun for our dogs and cats. According to research, over a quarter of Kiwi canines are overweight (26.1%), with a further 2.3% being grouped as obese. Obesity can lead to diabetes, arthritis and heart disease. But the good news is that it’s preventable. Good nutrition and a solid exercise routine (especially for dogs) are the solution.
If you have a dog, check out their dog exercise requirements by breed and how much exercise a dog needs to determine how much activity they should be getting. Then, teach your puppy to walk on a lead so you can take them out safely. If walking isn’t your thing, check out these ideas for exercising dogs without walking. Cats can be walked too, so check how to train a cat to walk on a lead, and some of them even enjoy swimming!
Secondly, you want to find a good quality, nutritious dog or cat food – preferably one specific to their breed and age. Speak to your vet about a pet food they recommend, as the sheer volume of food on the market can be overwhelming. You may want to feed them kibble or a raw food diet. For cats, you may want to go with dry cat food vs wet food. Both are fine as long as you’ve done the research and know the reasons it would work best for your pet.
More than maintenance
Lastly, we should note that having a healthy and happy pet is more than just providing routine pet maintenance. Like us, dogs and cats need a nurturing and a safe, stimulating environment to really thrive.
Playing with them, cuddling them, providing them with enriching toys and activities, training them and giving them plenty of attention will all add to this. They also need comfortable, safe places to rest and relax. Like us, pets thrive on love, praise and affection. And, as all pet parents know, they give back so much in return.
Emergency pet care
Unfortunately – like us – pets can succumb to accidents or illness, in which case you may have to seek out emergency pet care outside of their routine care. This can happen if they accidentally swallow something they shouldn’t, break a bone, are bitten or scratched by another animal, get hit by a car or develop an illness.
Make sure that you always know where the closest vet is to you, as well as which operate 24 hours for emergencies. Prompt emergency pet care is often what can save a pet’s life, especially for cases of parvovirus, pancreatitis, poisoning, heatstroke in pets and more.
Affording your pet’s bills
After reading all this, you may be wondering just how you’ll be able to afford all the things your pet needs.
Part of being a responsible pet owner is making financial provision for routine and non-routine pet care. There are many ways to do this, and the choice is yours. You may want to set aside savings or a dedicated credit card just for you pet. But weighing up pet insurance vs savings, bear in mind that your pet might need treatment way before you’ve built up a big enough pool of savings, and that treatment may cost way much than you could have saved. The other option, then, is a pet insurance policy.
Pet insurance can cover all kind of pet care
PD pet insurance doesn’t just have to be for accidents. Our comprehensive pet insurance offers you the option to take out cover for things like non-routine vet visits, allergy medication, illnesses and dental treatment so that you’re always up to date on your pet’s medical care.
Plus, if you sign up with us online you’ll get one or more months of pet insurance free!
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