“A whole new world, a dazzling place I never knew”, is what one imagines new puppies and kittens sing when they are born.
When brought into this new life, puppies and kittens experience everything for the first time, much like babies. They go through the same cycles and routines: they grow, they teeth, they require vaccinations, they are curious about new objects and are continually trying to learn new things.
As similar as they are to babies, the only difference is the timeline of these events. Since animals have a shorter life span, the majority of these events occur at a faster rate than humans. As a result, it is important to know when these events are supposed to happen to prevent one’s puppy or kitten to grow up unhealthy.
The Need to Feed
When puppies and kittens are born, their initial diet consists of drinking milk from their mother, much like babies. This diet will last for about a month before slowly transitioning to soft food and then to dry food if the owner prefers.
Over the course of the year, the puppies and kittens will be growing as they are still developing their body; as such, it is normal for puppies and kittens to be eating many meals a day in smaller portions. It is important to provide one’s puppy and kitten with high nutritious foods so that they get the nutrients they need to grow. Around the 11th or 12th months of age, this is time to measure the amount of food you give to one’s pet as they no longer require a high nutrient diet and in fact, will become obese if this diet continues.
Itching for a Bite
Similar to babies, puppies and kittens will have baby teeth (deciduous teeth) they will grow and lose over time. By the 2-4 weeks of age, the deciduous teeth will begin to grow and they should all be fully grown by the 6th week of age.
Over the course of the next 1-2 months, that is when the deciduous teeth will begin to fall out of the pet’s mouth. Do not be alarmed if one notices little teeth in the food leftovers, that is normal! Once the pet has reached 6 months old, that is when all deciduous teeth should be fully gone. There are a few occasions where some deciduous teeth have not fallen out at this age; if this happens, then dental extractions of these teeth are needed by a veterinarian. During this time period, the puppies and kittens will experience “teething”. Teething is when the gums itch due to irritation from the deciduous teeth. Due to the irritation, the pet will tend to bite and gnaw their teeth on anything to try to stop the itching as much as possible.
To prevent the puppies or kittens from biting things that are not meant to be bitten, it is crucial to provide the pet will some sort of chew toy to redirect this behaviour. As the pet nears 6th months of age, the teething should slow down and the excessive biting should stop. If for some reason this behaviour continues, puppy training or behavioural redirection is recommended before it gets any worse.
When introduced to this world, puppies and kittens are extremely curious about their new environment and the interactions they have daily. Therefore it is really important to keep a close eye on one’s pet when they are less than one year of age.
During this time, puppies and kittens will run, jump, eat and explore anything they can find due to them trying to figure out the world around them. In doing so, they tend to ingest things that are harmful to them or jump from places that are too high for them resulting in broken legs. Having this knowledge, it is important to make sure your puppies and kittens are in a safe environment where they can hurt themselves physically and to avoid leaving things for them to ingest.
In regards to vaccinations, all basic vaccinations (Distemper-Adenovirus-Parainfluenza-Parvovirus for dogs; Feline Rhinotracheitis-Calici-Panleukopenia for cats) are all given three times at the following intervals: 2 months of age, 3 months of age and 4 months of age. After the three initial shots, the basic vaccination will be good for one year. For rabies vaccine, it is done at the three months of age at the earliest. The first initial rabies vaccine will be good for a year and when given the booster vaccine in a years time, it will then be good for three years as long as the vaccine was not overdue.
Deworming is also highly recommended for puppies and kittens once they become two months of age. Three doses of deworming medication are given with two weeks intervals between each dose. This is as important as vaccinations as worms can be contracted through the ingestion of the mother’s milk and symptoms will not be seen until later in the development process. As such, it is crucial to vaccinate and deworm puppies and kittens to allow them to grow in a healthy lifestyle and allow them to participate in more activities in the future.
Puppies and kittens can be a hassle. They will run and jump to every platform they see and will also consume anything that seems edible. In other terms, they are a furball full of excitement and curiosity. By knowing and recognizing their ecstatic behaviours, it is crucial to perform the necessary steps to prevent injuries and diseases from happening; while also understanding what needs to be done to allow one’s furry baby to grow into a strong beloved friend.