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Got Your Self A New Pet

Welcoming your new four-legged and furry friend into your home takes preparation and research. You’ll want to make sure that you plan ahead for everything that will affect your new companion. There are many choices to make once you have decided to get a new pet. Cat or dog; indoor or outdoor; purebred or crossbred; shelter adoption or private adoption; holistic or conventional health care; processed foods or natural foods; and many more.

You must consider where you live and in what kind of home; what other pets are in the household; the time you have available to devote to your new pet, not just the first few months, but for its life; the available funds you have to look after your pet; the lifestyle you lead; and others.

Once you are ready for your new pet, get some input first from several veterinarians as to what they feel is the best approach to health care and nutrition. There will be differing opinions on what makes up the “best”, so it is very important that you do your own research and form your own opinion.

For example, a growing number of breeders are stopping early vaccinations and follow a reduced vaccination protocol beginning at 12 weeks old and using only one viral antigen at a time. Whilst still controversial, this method may potentially be safer, although that remains to be proven, than administering multiple antigens in a single dose, yet still effective in producing immunity for a number of years in the vast majority of dogs and cats. Be cautious as to what other pets they interact with before vaccinations begin, but this same advice holds true even if they get early vaccines.

All new acquisitions should have a checkup shortly after you get them and at least yearly after that, even if vaccines are not administered. These checkups will determine if your pet suffers from any health problems and allow treatment to begin right away. This annual visit also allows your veterinarian to really get to know your pet and you and builds a trusting relationship.

You will need to talk to more than one person about what type of food to feed and how much. Puppies and kittens should be fed 3-4 times per day in small meals up to 5-6 months old, twice a day until full grown and, thereafter, one or two times a day with a once weekly fast. They do not need to have milk, which can lead to diarrhea.

Please do not overfeed your new pets. They are better off growing at a slow to moderate rate than very quickly. Even those Rotties will get to their top weight with a nice and slow rate of growth! Once full grown, the best way to know if your dog is in lean, muscular body condition is when they are acting healthy and energetic and people tell you that your dog is too thin!! Our perception of what is “good body condition” in pets has become very warped over the years. Do make sure your pet has easy access to a plentiful supply of water.

Obedience training is very important for dogs starting as early as 8 weeks. It allows good socialization skills to develop and creates a much better relationship between you and your dog. Ask around for references for a good trainer.

Exercise benefits everyone, including your pets, young and old. Get them out daily for something stimulating and invigorating. Some dogs are going to need more exercise than others, so remember this when you are selecting your breed. And, for Pete’s sake, pick up what your dog leaves behind. It’s the right thing to do.

If you have other pets in your household, you will want to introduce the new one slowly, depending on the disposition of the pet(s). Cats usually do not take readily to new dogs invading their kingdom, so make sure that you keep them separate for a few days and then start slowly with supervised introductions.

More mature dogs should not have to put up all day with new puppies hanging from their cheeks by sharp little teeth. So make sure you keep in mind what is fair play and what could be considered torture by dog standards! Older cats may not appreciate the constant ambushes from new kittens as they walk innocently around the home they once considered safe, so monitor this as well.

Since we already have plenty of unwanted puppies and especially cats on this planet, please make a point of spaying and neutering your pets. The age recommendations will differ on when to have this operation done, depending on the breed, but here again, get several opinions and do some research. If you have trouble funding this operation, please call your local SPCA and find out about programs sponsored by them as well as by veterinarians that make these procedures more affordable.

Be a responsible, remarkable and respectable pet owner. As a holistic vet in Kelowna contact us if you have any questions about your new pet.

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