What have I done? Or what on earth was I thinking when she or he convinced me the other night to get this new kitten or puppy? Beware of pillow talk! But those four-legged toileting machines are pretty cute! And don’t worry - it will all work out fine. Shoe boxes arriving at the hospital is a sure sign that summer has arrived.
In Townsville, Australia, it wasn’t shoe boxes but pillow cases. I walked in to my new job to find a pillow case hanging on every corner of every table or desk. Inside each pillow case was a joey. It was an amazing place to work because they did all the wildlife work for the area. This included raising tiny young echidnas (like a porcupine) which don’t have quills or spines when they are very young (something I hadn’t really thought about), possums, and dealing with birds of prey, along with all the young kangaroos and wallabies found in the pouches of their dead mothers after they were killed on the roads. But getting back to summer. Its kitten and puppy season, so I thought it would be helpful to give you a couple of things to check yourself and a bit of info. Most importantly:
Is it a boy or a girl?
There are lots of mistakes made in this area and a few hasty name changes as a result. All puppies and kittens are born with two openings below the tail (obvious I know BUT) The difference between a male and a female is the distance between the anal and genital openings. Males have a larger distance because the scrotum separates the two (but the testicles are not there for about four to six weeks). Females have a much shorter distance between the two openings and the genital opening is a vertical slit rather than the small circular opening of the male. Also, tortoiseshell kittens are almost always females. There is no colour coding in dogs unfortunately. Rabbits are very difficult to sex at a young age and small population explosions are not uncommon as a result of a mistake here.
What age should I get a kitten or puppy?
Kittens should be at least nine to 10 weeks old before going to their new home, and should be fully weaned (ie eating solid kitten food). Puppies can vary in the age that they can go to a new home, but all breeds should be at least eight weeks old and again fully weaned. Smaller and definitely toy breeds should be at least 12 weeks old.
What to feed, how much to feed?
The most important rule here is: Keep the food the same. So don’t change their food every two days from dry to wet or vice versa. By far the most common problem we see kittens and puppies for is diarrhoea. There are lots of reasons but dietary changes are a big cause. Just keep it simple and as you mean to continue. So water and one type of food, and preferably dry food if they have already been on this.
When do they get vaccinated?
Puppies start at six weeks then again at eight or nine weeks and kittens for the first time at eight to nine weeks of age. And it’s a great time to get a full check up to make sure everything is Ok. Worming also starts at two to four weeks of age. A special plea! Check the rabbits! It’s fly season as well and those damp bums are particularly attractive to nasty flies. Give them a dry area to sleep with lots of hay and check their backsides daily for dampness. Have a great month from the crazy crew at ANDERSON’S Vet Hospital, seven days on 357 9993.