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San Jose Puppy and Kitten Care

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Congratulations on the new addition to your family! In order to have as pleasant and rewarding a relationship as possible, we have the following suggestions and information. We hope this information will help you have a long and happy relationship with your new family member.

Socialization:‚Äč

It is very important to socialize your pet properly during the first twelve weeks of its life. These are the most impressionable weeks and any impressions formed during this period will stay with your pet for the rest of its life! Here at Lincoln Ave. Veterinary Clinic we try very hard to make these first visits nice ones. It will help to bring your pet in hungry so we can use food as a treat and a distraction. At home you want to establish the rules early so your pet will know what they are. That means being consistent! It will help to write them down so everyone can remember and so you can define them; for example, you may not want your pet to jump up on the counter.

Part of the socialization is learning how to be handled. Touch your pet all over, rubbing the face, ears, tummy, paws (especially the toes and nails!), and around the tail (lift the tail up and inspect the anus for signs of parasites). You can gently insert your fingers into the ears with a cotton ball to clean them out. Gently, but persistently insert your fingers into the mouth and open it, rubbing the teeth like you are brushing them and look at the tongue and roof of the mouth. Work down the neck feeling for any lumps or scabs and then down each front leg. Inspect the paws, looking between the toes, under the paw, between the pads, and finally rubbing the toe nails, looking for length, cracks, or other problems. By rubbing the toe nails now and NOT cutting them, you get the pet used to the nails being handled. Then when it comes time to actually trim the nails, it won't be the first time the nails are being touched when there is a chance of hurting the pet. The first impression of nail handling will be a pleasant one. Now start to work your way back along the chest and abdomen, feeling again for lumps and bumps. It helps if you can get your pet to lie down on its side to look at the tummy and groin areas. Inspect the rear legs and paws and under the tail and then you are done! Doing this procedure at least once a week will enable you to pick up early signs of any medical or health issues.

You can also use this time to start to groom you puppy or kitten. Use a comb or soft brush and as you work your way down the body, you can brush or comb at the same time. Pick a time when the critter is relatively tranquil and calm, like after a meal in the evening. You need to have the time to do this when you are not rushed either. Remember young animals will not have much patience at first! Plan on only a few minutes at first and then gradually working up in time and amount of body covered. You want to use this time to build your relationship with your new pet, to gain its trust, and make it a positive experience.

Soon you can start to do more things like brushing the teeth. This is actually very important! Dental disease is an insidious problem and can seriously affect the overall health of your new family member. Use your finger first, then you can work up to a wash cloth wrapped around your finger and dipped in water for puppies, or a Q-tip for kittens and small puppies. We have tooth brushes made specifically for animals that can make the job much easier.

You may want to consider a puppy training class, especially if it has been a long time since you have had a puppy. This can be very helpful in preventing bad habits and can set the stage for a more satisfying and rewarding relationship with your dog.

Many people are getting kittens because they can be less demanding than dogs. Many cat owners would dispute that, but in general that is probably true. Cats can be very social animals and enjoy company. That obviously includes you, but you may want to consider two cats or kittens to keep each other company. This is especially true for working people. It usually does not matter if you get two males or two females or one of each, especially if they are young when you get them. The temperament of the older cat is probably most important. They may not tolerate another older cat but usually will tolerate and even enjoy a young kitten after a period of a couple of weeks of adjustment.

Toys are wonderful things for your pet. Be careful as you would with your own child in choosing the toys. Avoid hard chew toys, such as hooves and "nylabones" which may fracture the young, fragile (but SHARP!) teeth. Rawhide chews are a good choice. Watch your cat when playing with string, which can be swallowed and cause lacerations and obstructions of the intestines. Do not use things which may be confused with items you do NOT want to be chewed on in the future, like socks, shoes, etc.

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Diet:

A lot of questions come up about what to feed your new pet, how much, and when to feed. First of all there are no rules written in stone. Each pet is an individual with its own needs and preferences. There are also YOUR needs and preferences. So the following information should be taken in that light.

BRAND- Use a major brand name food. This will ensure proper nutrition for your pet. We use and recommend highly Science Diet and Prescription Diet made by Hill's. They emphasize the quality of the ingredients and total health care of the animals through diet instead of appealing to the purchaser (instead of the pet), or making the food at a certain price. They have specific diets for specific health problems and are the most complete that way. They are the standard that the other manufacturers compare to. Having said all that, remember that no one brand or diet is perfect for all pets, so choose carefully and get the best diet you can afford for your new friend.

FLAVOR- Pick one flavor or type (beef, chicken, lamb, etc.) and stick with it. Resist temptation and do not change!! You will only create a finicky eater! This is true for both dogs and cats. Their intestinal tract will be much happier and healthier in the long run. Also, it makes sorting through intestinal problems such as diarrhea and food allergies much easier for you and your veterinarian. There is no protein that is inherently "better" than another as we have heard from some of our clients. It seems that they hear it from pet stores most often. We suspect that a food sales rep has told the pet store employee who has no formal education in this subject. The most common claim we hear is that lamb is better for your dog's skin and is hypoallergenic. This is true ONLY IF your dog is allergic to beef or chicken, which are the two most common protein sources used in dog food today. Food allergies exist, but rarely from birth!

FEEDINGS- For critters less than 12 weeks of age, feed at least 3-4 times a day. From 12 weeks to 6 months of age, you can reduce that by one feeding. From 6 months on, you can feed 1-2 times a day for dogs. Realize that these schedules are more for our convenience than for what nature intended. A dog's intestinal tract is designed to function best when fed small meals often. Cats were designed to get a big protein meal all at one time( however cats prefer to eat 6-18 small meals throughout the day and night). Pets tend to be either a "gobbler" or a "nibbler". Nibblers can go on a free feeding schedule (food out all the time) while gobblers will have to go on fixed meals to keep them from getting over weight. Fixed meals (in other words, put out a certain amount of food at a regular time) also make it easier to housebreak puppies, as it helps to "time" their bowel movements to the meals.

AMOUNT- There is no magic rule for the amount to be given. There are usually guidelines on the package and they make a good starting point. The main thing is to keep a record of the amount you are feeding per day, or per meal and number of meals per day. Then keep a record of the weight of the pet, measuring at least once a week. You will know that the pet is getting enough if the ribs are not sticking out obviously. You always want to be able to feel the ribs easily. The ribs may stick out a bit before a meal. IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO HAVE A LEAN PUPPY OR KITTEN THAN A PLUMP ONE!!! Remember that it only takes 5-10 pieces of kibble to make the difference between a lean pet and a plump one. If you cannot feel the ribs or spine easily, it may be necessary to hold the feeding portion at the same amount until you can, then start to slowly increase the portions.

DRY VERSUS WET- Both are nutritionally complete and equal. Dry food is usually less expensive since you are not paying for the shipping of the water. Dry food will not necessarily keep the teeth cleaner. The puppy or kitten may show a strong preference.

SNACKS- Try to stay away from table scraps. You can give things like carrots, broccoli, apples, and other fruits or vegies. Surprisingly, kittens will eat almost anything when young! Picky eaters tend to be MADE versus born. Rawhide chews, hooves, things like milk bones, etc. are generally OK, but watch the amount given as it can add up to a substantial amount of food and therefore weight of the pet! Milk should not be given, in general, as it usually causes loose stool and/or gas.

VITAMINS AND SUPPLEMENTS- In general you should not need to give your pet any of these if they are eating a high quality food. A multi-vitamin supplement is fine. Large breed dogs should NOT get any calcium supplement. If anything, they need less. A large breed dog should be switched over to adult food at 6 months of age. Giant breeds, like Saint Bernards, Newfoundlands, German Shepherds and Great Danes, should be fed a diet such as Science Diet Growth for Large Breed Dogs. This is so the puppy does not grow too fast! It has the proper balance of nutrients which will help the skeleton and muscles grow more accurately and prevent developmental problems like hip and elbow dysplasia and minimize the possibility of panosteitis. Kittens usually do not need any supplement. The kitten food should provide everything it needs if it is a high quality food. You may switch over to adult food at six to nine months of age or if you are having trouble keeping excess weight off the kitten.

PUPPY VACCINES

DHP-P This stands for Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, and Parvovirus. There is also adenovirus in there as well, making it a "5-in-1" vaccine. Distemper virus causes respiratory, GI, and sometimes nervous signs of disease. Parvo virus causes GI disease. This vaccine is the "standard" vaccine for dogs and puppies and should be started at 6-8 weeks of age. They should be repeated every 2-4 weeks ( we repeat at 3 weeks) till they get at least three. They should be given at one year of age, then every 2-3 years.

BORDATELLA VACCINE- This is for kennel cough. Parainfluenza and adenovirus also are part of kennel cough and are included in the DHP-P vaccine. The bordatella vaccine completes the protection and is recommended for those dogs that board, go to “doggie daycare”, dog parks, and go to grooming. We are now requiring this vaccine as well to board or go to our grooming facility. Luckily we have not had a problem with kennel cough with our boarders, but we do not want to take any chances with your dog's health. One vaccine is required initially, with yearly boosters.

LYME VACCINE- We recommend this vaccine only for high risk dogs. If there is significant risk of tick exposure on a regular basis, then your dog or puppy is considered high risk. The actual risk of getting Lyme disease is NOT high as the tick needs to be attached to the dog for more than 5-6 hours to pass the disease. It is not common in this area. Dogs that go camping, hunting, or hiking a lot should be considered candidates for this vaccine.

RABIES VACCINE- This is a required vaccine by law. It should be given at 4 months of age, then one year of age, then every three years.

KITTEN VACCINES:

FVRCP- This represents the feline distemper and upper respiratory virus vaccines. These are the basic kitty vaccines. They should be started at 6-8 weeks of age and given every 3 weeks. We will give 2-3 depending on when they were started. Then at one year of age a booster is given. We will then start a staggered vaccine schedule with the other vaccines so that only one vaccine is given each year.

FeLV- This stands for feline leukemia virus. The vaccine will help prevent the disease which can cause leukemia but it is actually an immunodeficiency virus, like HIV is for people. FeLV can infect cats only!! We recommend this vaccine very strongly even if the kitten will be an inside-only one. There can still be exposure to inside-only cats! Kittens and cats should be tested first to make sure they are not infected prior to vaccination. We also test for FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus) at the same time. This is another kitty-only virus, but there is no vaccine yet available. The FeLV vaccine can be given after 10 weeks of age. Two vaccines are given 3 weeks apart initially then at one year of age. After that, it will be staggered in with the FVRCP and rabies vaccines.

RABIES- We also strongly recommend this vaccine even though it is not required by law for cats. It is cheap insurance against any claim that may arise should your kitty be suspected of biting someone. The vaccine should be given between 12-16 weeks of age, then at one year, then every 3 years. There is a newer, recombinant modified live virus vaccine for cats only, that does not contain any adjuvant, thus making it much safer than the “standard” killed virus vaccine. This vaccine is only approved for one year, however. Still, overall, this is still recommended in most cases, due to the lack of adjuvant.

BORDATELLA- The feline bordatella vaccine protects against the agent which helps cause upper respiratory infections in cats. Like kennel cough in the dog, upper respiratory infections have multiple infectious agents. We require this vaccine if your cat boards here at LAVC or is going to be groomed here. Otherwise, it is not recommended for your “average” cat.

FIP- This stands for feline infectious peritonitis. It is a viral disease for which there is no cure, just like feline distemper, FeLV, and rabies. The strays are the most likely carriers of FIP. This vaccine is not recommended, as it does not provide the protection promised.

FIV- This stands for feline immunodeficiency virus. This vaccine is not recommended for a variety of reasons. We mention it, only because you may read or hear about it. This vaccine also does not protect as promised, and also makes it impossible to tell the difference between a vaccinated cat and an FIV infected cat.

LINCOLN AVE. VETERINARY CLINIC CONSIDERS VACCINES GOOD PREVENTATIVE MEDICINE AGAINST SOME VERY BAD DISEASES. WE THINK OF VACCINES AS CHEAP INSURANCE.

HEARTWORM DISEASE

Heartworm disease is a blood parasite that usually infects dogs but has been discovered to infect cats, too. It is spread by mosquito bites. We recommend that your dog be put on preventative medication year round and be tested yearly beginning at one year of age. High risk, high incidence area include the Mendicino/Santa Rosa area, Santa Cruz Mountains, and parts of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Protection for your cat should also be considered, as cats can also be infected, but it creates a completely different disease from dogs, and there is no cure in cats.

INTESTINAL PARASITES

Intestinal parasites can be very common and pose health risks to both the pets and the owners. Roundworms are very common and can infect children if they ingest some fecal material accidentally. Toxoplasmosis is a common cat intestinal parasite and can put pregnant women and their fetus at risk. These two parasites need to be detected by special microscopic exams. Tapeworms affect both dogs and cats. Tapeworms appear as whitish, small (1/4 - 3/4" long), moving, flat segments found on the coat near the anus or on the freshly passed stool or on the bedding. The segments then dry into what looks to be sesame seeds. You should not be afraid of your pet's stool. Use common sense when handling the stool and wash your hands afterward. We recommend that regular fecal exams be performed during the initial exams and vaccinations and also at the yearly exams. Virtually all of the parasites can be eliminated with the proper treatment.

IDENTIFICATION FOR YOUR PET

Please provide some form of identification for your pet. Information should include a telephone number(s). Addresses should be used more cautiously as it is easier to change a telephone number than your address. Collars should fit comfortably, without being too snug nor too loose. One new form of ID is a microchip. These microchips are injected under the pet's skin over the shoulder blades. They have a unique code which can be read by a special reader. The Humane Society and Animal Control have these readers and are scanning EVERY animal they come in contact with. If the animal has a chip it will NOT be destroyed. They will be able to contact you or us. The placement of the chip is no more painful than a vaccine and can be placed when a vaccine is given! The cost is very reasonable. Please ask for more details.

Hopefully this guide will be of some help. Please ask if there are any questions. We are here to help you and your pet. We consider them to be important parts of your family. We welcome you both to our family here at Lincoln Ave. Veterinary Clinic!!

New clients are always welcome!

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