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Health Checks for Pets: Looking after a Puppy or Kitten

Health Checks for Pets: Looking after a Puppy or Kitten

Getting a new pet for you and your family can be a rewarding experience, but are you prepared for the care that they will require in the first few months? Here, our Bakersfield vets discuss what to expect in the first few months or your puppy or kitten's life and what to expect at their pet health checkups.

Caring For a New Kitten

Kittens are adorable and lovable household pets, however, they have very specific needs that have to be taken care of. These needs are different for every stage of their life, and if something goes wrong or is missed it can impact their overall health and longevity. Here we talk about how you can care for your new furry friend during their kitten years.

Raising a Kitten

Kittens are adorable and lovable household pets, however, they have very specific needs that have to be taken care of. These needs are different for every stage of their life, and if something goes wrong or is missed it can impact their overall health and longevity. Here we talk about how you can care for your new furry friend during their kitten years.

0-4 Weeks Old

When a kitten is 0 to 4 weeks old they are considered a newborn, they are still learning how to meow, walk, and even regulate their body temperature. If they have a mother, their mother will be able to do most of the work including feeding. All you would have to do is make sure the mother is in good health and that they are in a warm and safe environment. Make sure the floor of their crate/area is covered with a blanket, and they have a warm bed to lie on.

If the newborn kitten does not have a mother the first thing you should do is take them to see a vet. Your kitten vet will be able to determine the health of the kitten and provide you with detailed instructions on how to meet the needs of your tiny little friend. 

5-12 Weeks Old

When the kitten you are caring for is around 5 to 10 weeks old they should gradually stop being bottle fed or fed by their mothers and start feeding them high protein meals about 3 to 4 times a day. You can start this by pouring the formula in a food bowl and possibly adding a bit of softened hard food or canned soft food to help ease them in the process. And because their motor skills will be improving at this stage they will start becoming adventurous and you will have to keep a close eye on them to make sure they don't get themselves into trouble.

Your kitten will require a lot of supervision and hands-on playtime while they are between 2 and 4 months old.

What Can Go Wrong?

When caring for a kitten there are many things you need to keep an eye out for in every stage of your kitten's life, which could indicate a problem or even a veterinary emergency. If you see your kitten displaying any of the following signs call your vet immediately to schedule an appointment.

Here is what you need to keep an eye out for in a newborn kitten:

  • Delays or difficulties in motor skills or coordination
  • Lethargy
  • Refusing food (especially if being bottle-fed)
  • Diarrhea 
  • Vomiting
When your kitten is 4 weeks old or older you still need to keep an eye out for the signs above in addition to these behavioral signs:
  • Litter box usage/ not using the litter box
  • Signs of play biting or aggression
  • Fears and other concerning behaviors that should be managed when they are still young

Caring for a New Puppy

Raising a puppy is an exciting and adorable experience, but does come with some challenges. For first-time puppy owners, the task can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you don't really know what you're getting yourself into. Our puppy vets at Stine Veterinary Hospital hope to further prepare you for the experience so your pup can grow up to be a happy, healthy, and well-behaved doggy.

Puppies are very energetic as well as curious about everything going on around them. Puppy owners will need a lot of patience to keep them out of trouble, instruct them on acceptable behavior, and teach them about the world in a safe manner.

Luckily, you will get some breaks throughout the day as puppies tend to sleep a lot. That being said, they don't always sleep through the night which can result in them whining and/or barking throughout the night due to being left alone.

Your pup will likely be motivated to chew on just about anything as their adult teeth come in, which can result in the not-so-cute destruction of items around the house. On the bright side, this behavior won't last too long as your pup will be all grown up by the time they turn a year old, as most of those types of puppy tendencies will be left behind.

Caring for a puppy is a big obligation and a large time investment. If you're thinking about getting a puppy, you should make sure you can have someone home with them at all times. This will allow you to let them out to go to the bathroom as well as monitor their behavior to ensure you can put an end to undesirable habits they may partake in if they were left alone.

6 - 8 Weeks:

Preparing To Bring Your New Puppy Home

Depending on where your new puppy is coming from, and how old your pup will be when they join your household, the first three steps may be taken by the breeder, adoption agency or by you.

  • Your puppy should receive their first round of vaccinations.
  • Early-stage toilet training should begin
  • Begin early socialization by introducing your puppy to new people and dogs that you know have been fully vaccinated

Before you bring your puppy home here are a few things you need to do to prepare for your new four-legged family member.

  • Create a dedicated space in your home that is just for your puppy with a comfy bed and puppy-safe toys. The area should be protected from drafts but somewhere not too isolated. You will likely want to purchase an appropriately sized crate to keep your puppy when you aren't able to supervise, or indoor fencing to create a small pen for your pup.
  • Purchase puppy-safe soft toys and chew toys. Be sure to choose items that are a good size for your new fur baby. Do not give large breed puppies toys that are designed for small or toy breeds as these can pose a choking hazard for your puppy.
  • Puppy-proof your home! Remove all plants that are poisonous to pets, clean up children's toys and store them out of your puppy's reach, and ensure that all chemicals (such as cleaning solutions) are stored safely out of your puppy's reach.
  • Choose a puppy vet that is close to your home and offers the routine puppy health checks and care that ythey will need to stay healthy throughout their lifetime. Be sure to check the veterinary clinic's opening hours to see if they are convenient for you.
  • Enroll your fur baby in puppy classes. Classes operated by reputable trainers can fill up fast, particularly in busy urban areas, so sign up early to guarantee to get a spot for your pooch.

8 - 12 Weeks:

Welcoming Your Puppy Into Your Home

Is there anything more exciting than bringing your new puppy home? No doubt you will be smitten by your delightful puppy's unique personality, but it's important to remember that what they learn in these early days will have a huge impact on their future behavior.

  • When you pick up your new puppy ask if you can have a blanket, toy or other fabric that was used by your puppy's mother, siblings or human caregiver to help your puppy feel more comfortable in their new home.
  • Keep in mind that until your puppy receives all 4 rounds of vaccinations and booster shots. If your puppy hasn't had their first round of vaccinations and parasite prevention yet, booking your puppy's first vet appointment should be your number one priority.
  • Socialization at this stage is essential for building your puppy's social skills and confidence. Have friends and family stop by to meet your puppy and continue to introduce your new fur baby to other pets that you know are fully vaccinated.
  • Introduce new experiences gradually such as grooming, having their ears or feet touched, and being carried or held by family members.
  • When out in public carry your puppy until they are fully vaccinated. Some highly contagious, potentially life-threatening conditions can be contracted through even very brief contact with an infected dog's urine or feces.
  • Establish routines at home for feeding times, play times and bedtime. Also, begin setting rules by positively reinforcing good behavior and when safe ignoring bad behavior. Positive reinforcement will help your puppy to learn acceptable behavior quickly and help you to form a deep and lasting bond with your pet.
  • Choose a reputable, nutritious food for your puppy and stick to it. Changing foods frequently can lead to tummy trouble for your pup and some very messy accidents. Begin with the food being used by your breeder, then gradually introduce the new food a little at a time in order to avoid GI issues.
  • Begin to leave your puppy alone for short periods of time then gradually increase the time as your puppy becomes comfortable with being alone.
  • Continue toilet training, and be sure to always use positive reinforcement to encourage appropriate toileting habits.

The Bottom Line

How you care for your puppy or kitten during their first few months of life will have a profound impact on your lifelong relationship with each other. Positive reinforcement, quality time spent together playing and training, plus taking care of your pet's healthcare requirements will help to build a fabulous relationship that you will both treasure. Have fun!

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you have a new puppy or kitten that is in need of a routine health check, contact our vets at Stine Veterinary Hospital in Bakersfield.

New Patients Welcome

Stine Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vet is passionate about improving the health of Bakersfield companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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(661) 398-7121