A new addition to the family is so exciting and such a wonderful time. We hope that you have a long life with your new puppy or kitten; so here is our health checklist with 10 important things to think about when buying a new pet.
Number one on our health checklist is vaccination. This is important to stop your puppy or kitten from catching some of the nastiest diseases. Some of these diseases can be life-threatening or life-limiting. Puppies and kittens start their vaccines with a course of two injections. The first at 8 weeks and the second 11-12 weeks old. Puppies are vaccinated against Parvovirus, Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza and Leptospirosis. Kittens are vaccinated against Cat Flu, Feline Enteritis and Feline Leukaemia. After their kitten or puppy course they will require a booster vaccination every year. Each time they come in for a vaccination they will also get a general health check by a veterinarian. This health check is just as important as the vaccine as sometimes our vets will spot other health problems. At Rochford Vets we offer a full puppy and kitten starter pack, this includes both their first vaccinations as well as other important things.
2. Parasite treatment
The second item on our health checklist is treating to prevent those troublesome parasites. These include fleas, ticks, mites and worms. In dogs in this area we recommend making sure that lungworm is covered, as this can be life threatening. Some of these parasites can be passed on from the mother to her litter so hopefully your new pet has already had some treatment. Often they require monthly treatment for worms and fleas until they are 6 months old. From then on whilst monthly flea treatment is often needed, worming is individual and your pets needs may be different to another’s.
Our puppy and kitten pack includes your pet’s first months flea and worming treatment. It also includes monthly appointments with our nurses until 6 month of age to help you choose the best products for your pet and maintain the correct dose as they are growing.
We strongly recommend taking out pet insurance for your pet. Unfortunately we cannot recommend any one insurance company, take your time when looking and read the small print, lifetime cover is usually recommended. This means that your pet is covered for each condition they develop during their whole life. Yearly policies will only cover for that condition for a year. Many conditions such as diabetes, allergies, chronic skin problems and arthritis are lifelong and require treatment in following years.
With our puppy and kitten pack you get 4 weeks of free insurance to give you peace of mind before you pick the best policy for you.
All dogs should be microchipped by eight weeks of age by law. The same is not true for cats. We feel that all cats and dogs are better off if they are microchipped. The microchip is about the size of a grain of rice and has a unique code associated with it. This code is read by a microchip reader and can then be checked on a database to find the owners details. If your pet happens to go missing or stray from home then they have a much better chance of being reunited with you. Both our puppy and kitten packs include microchipping.
5. Good nutrition
A great start in life starts with great nutrition. We have all heard the saying you are what you eat, well nutrition is important in staying healthy and that goes for our pets too. Often although good quality foods seem more expensive they actually eat less of it because it is more nutrient dense. This means that each bag lasts longer and so costs less than you may think. We recommend the Virbac HPM range of food, especially for growing animals because it has a high level of good quality protein. When purchasing our puppy or kitten pack you can buy one bag and get the second free to get you started. For more information on this food click here.
6. Dental care
Another important part of the health checklist is dental care. The best way to keep your cat or dogs teeth in tip top condition is by brushing. Plaque takes between 24-48 hours to form a film on which tartar can build up, so whilst every day brushing is perfect, every other day is pretty good too. The best time to start is now whilst they are young so that it becomes a normal part of life. Tooth brushing is something that requires training and so a step by step approach. Start with just the toothpaste, which should be dog or cat specific, let them get used to the flavour first. Then use your fingers to rub the toothpaste on their teeth, starting with the canines. From there introduce the brush with the toothpaste on. Finally start brushing the teeth. This process should be gradual and usually takes about 4 weeks to get to brushing the full mouth.
7. Puppy or kitten proofing
Getting a new puppy or kitten can be like having a baby in the house, it is important to make sure that they do not have access to anything that may harm them. This could be household cleaning products, batteries, electrical wires to chew, hot stoves or fireplaces, easily accessible dustbins, rat and mice poisons and medications. Hazardous or toxic foods include: chocolate, grapes, raisins, caffiene, onions, garlic, leeks, salt, alcohol and sugar free foods containing xylitol. Toxic plants include: Azalea/Rhododendron, Cherry laurel, Castor oil bush, Conkers and acorns, Daffodils, Laburnum, Yew, Lily of the valley, Lilies and Philodendron. Garden hazards may include garden chemicals, slug pellets and sharp stones.
Another important item on our health checklist is neutering. You don’t have to organise it just yet as we start neutering cats from around 5 months of age and dogs from around 6 months of age. However it is something worth thinking about. There are many benefits to neutering including reduced risks of mammary and testicular cancer, infections of the womb or uterus, straying or for males fighting over females, the female animals will not have to go through seasons and will not have any unwanted pregnancies.
If you would like to discuss this further then ask to speak to one of our vets.
Puppies and kittens have a socialisation window, this is a time period when they will accept new things as normal without worry or fear. For dogs this lasts until they are 16 weeks old, in cats this is earlier at around 12 weeks. It is important to get them used to what life is all about before this time . Loud noises like hoovers, washing machines, cars, thunder and fireworks. Different people such as elderly people, small children, babies, different nationalities, people in wheelchairs and the postman. They can learn after this window but now is the best time to start socialisation. Part of this involves visits to the vets so these are not scary in the future. For more information click here for dogs or click here for cats.
10. Environmental enrichment
We believe that mental health is just as important as physical health and so this had to have a space in our health checklist. Bored dogs and cats can get into trouble and may end up developing behavioural problems or destructive behaviour. Boredom can be relieved by making sure that your new pet has something fun and interesting to do whilst you are away from home. It is also important to entertain them when you are there too! Some useful ideas are hiding favourite toys around the house or leaving them with some food in a puzzle feeder. For dogs you can place unusual scents around the house or leave a scent trail of food to a hiding place with a treat in it. Training, exercise and puppy socialisation are all parts of enrichment as well. For cats places to hide, scratching posts and even outdoor bird feeders can provide enrichment. It is important to mix things up and get inventive as repeating the same thing too often can get boring too. Rotating toys can help so that they only have access to two or three at a time.
For more information on anything here or our puppy and kitten best start package then please contact reception today on 01702 545558.