Bringing home a new puppy or kitten is such an exciting time! Shortly after bringing your new pet home, it’s important to schedule an initial check-up with your Veterinary Physician. This way, you can establish a relationship with your vet and learn everything you need to know about providing the best possible care.
Here at Lakeside Animal Hospital, we love meeting your new family members when they come in for their first visit. To make sure that you’re best prepared to be a pet-parent, we rounded up the Top 10 Questions Every Pet Owner Asks about their new puppies and new kitten owners. Check them out - and, should you have any additional questions - our team of experts are here to help.
10 Common Questions Puppy Owners Ask
1. What Food Should I Feed My New Puppy and How Much?
Typically, major dog foods are fine. The Association of American Feed Control Officials is a great resource for choosing a safe dog food. Lakeside’s veterinarians will be able to provide directives on how much to feed your puppy based on breed and size.
2. What Should the Feeding Schedule Be?
We recommend feeding your puppy twice a day - once in the morning and once at night. Try to be as consistent as possible (your fur-kids will let you know when you’re not!).
3. Why Does My Puppy Make Noises in Their Sleep?
Puppies make noises and movements during their sleep which is called "activated sleep." It is likely that your puppy participating in a dream. This behavior lasts a few months, but rarely continues into adulthood.
Puppies also frequently have hiccups. They may occur for 10-20 minutes at a time and then spontaneously disappear.
4. How Do I House Train My Puppy?
It's likely that you've heard that it can be challenging to train a new puppy, which is very true. Because of this, you'll need to be extra patient and diligent as you introduce the rules. Here are a few basic - not to be confused with easy - tips:
1. Create a morning and night routine when you take your puppy outdoors to take care of his or her business - they will start to follow a set schedule.
2. Take your puppy to the same spot
3. Reward good behavior
5. How to Socialize My Puppy?
What’s one of the best ways to socialize your new puppy? W.A.L.K.S. Yes! Take your new pup on walks, introduce them to a variety of men, women, children, and even other dogs, if you can. If you have a friend or family member with a puppy, meet for a playdate. Also, puppy training classes are a great way to help your pup learn how to socialize.
6. Which Vaccinations Should My Puppy Get?
Core vaccines are recommended for all puppies and dogs. These include what is commonly known as a "canine distemper" and "rabies" vaccinations.
Non-Core vaccines are optional. They should be considered in light of the exposure risk of the animal, geographic distribution, and lifestyle of the pet. One of these vaccinations is "bordetella," which many people know as the “kennel cough.” All groomers and boarders require this vaccination. Here at Lakeside, we highly recommend it if your dog socializes with other dogs at dog parks or on walks.
7. What About Chewing?
You'll want to make sure to “puppy-proof” your home before you bring him or her home. Put away shoes, keep important toys up high, and pick up anything from the floor that you don’t want to get chewed. Give your puppy toys that they can chew on and make sure they’re getting lots of exercise and outlets.
8. Should I Get a Microchip?
This is up to the individual pet owner. A microchip can be inserted somewhat painlessly and safely by your Veterinarian Physician. Visit our website for more information on getting a microchip.
9. When Should I Spay/Neuter?
Typically, puppies are spayed or neutered between 6-9 months; however, ask your vet when they think your puppy should have the surgery done.
10. How Do I Introduce My Puppy to My Current Pet?
What's the most important thing to remember when introducing a new puppy to a current fur-baby? Patience. Respect any signals if either pet shows discomfort. To introduce dogs, take them to a neutral space, like your backyard or park.
If you’ve got a cat at home, gently hold and pet both pets. Allow the puppy to sniff. Again, be patient. Give your puppy time.
10 Common Questions Kitten Owners Ask
1. How Do I Introduce My Kitten to Other Cats in My Household?
Do not immediately introduce your new kitten to your current cat children. Why? They need to be slowly introduced through scent. In fact, before bringing your new kitten home, create a separate territory that he or she can call their own (like a guest bedroom). Let each cat sniff a blanket or towel that the other has laid on.
Timing is touchy when introducing cats – so, do not rush it.
2. Which Vaccinations Do My Kittens Need?
There are many diseases that are fatal to cats, which is why it is so important to get your kitten vaccinated. We vaccinate against distemper, two respiratory viruses, and rabies. A leukemia vaccination is necessary if your cat goes outside or has contact with another cat that goes outside.
3. What Type of Food Should I Feed My Kitten?
We recommend a name brand food made by a national cat food company. The Association of American Feed Control Officials is a great resource for choosing a safe cat food.
As a rule, we recommend a dry food for your kitten. Semi-moist and canned foods are also acceptable, but are more expensive with less nutrients (and higher in sugar!). You also run the risk of raising a cat with a finicky appetite. For all pets, table foods are not recommended.
4. How Much Should I Feed My Kitten?
According to the Animal Medical Center, the average 8-pound cat requires about 240 calories per day. You will want to confirm with your Veterinary Physician who will be able to monitor your cat’s weight and overall health.
5. What Do I Need to Know about Litter?
This is a bigger question than most cat owners realize, so here’s a heads up! If you experience any kitty litter box issues, please reach out! The team at Lakeside Animal Hospital are happy help problem-solve litter box issues.
What Type of Litter Should I Use? There are several types of kitty litter you can use, and it will depend on your cat’s preference. It may take a few tries to figure out which litter your kitten likes. Pellets or clay litter are generally great for kittens.
How Many Litter Boxes Do I Need? Believe it or not, you'll want to have 1-2 litter boxes per cat. So, if you’ve got 3 cats, you’ll want at least 5 litter boxes. It sounds crazy, but cats are very clean and territorial about their space.
Where Should I Keep the Litter Boxes? Owners tend to stick litter boxes in dark basements or laundry rooms. We ask that you compromise with your kitten. Find a spot that’s convenient for him or her to get to. And, never put the litter box next to the food bowl!
6. Should I Declaw?
Declawing has become a controversial topic among cat owners. The declawing procedure is removing the top joint of the cat’s paw so he or she no longer has claws. Big cats in the wild flex their claws on trees to maintain them – and, your kitty will naturally do the same. We are happy to discuss the pros and cons or the procedure of declawing with you.
7. Can I Stop a Cat from Scratching?
Yes. It is possible to train your kitten to not scratch in certain areas. It will take time. We encourage you to incorporate scratching posts around your home. Treats will also help them learn the ropes.
Lakeside veterinary technicians are happy to discuss the many things we have found to work over the years. Not every single method works for every cat, but usually we can give you several different ones to try. For example, a lot of cats don’t like aluminum foil. If your cat is scratching a certain couch or table, wrap that area in the foil to train your cat to stay away. It won’t look pretty, but you’ll eventually be able to remove it.
8. How Do I Trim My Kitten’s Claws?
Trimming your kitten’s claws doesn’t have to be a traumatic experience! Have your little fur-kid sit on your lap or right next to you. Try touching his or her paw and see how they react. If they are comfortable – which may take a few tries - give them a treat. Once they learn that there is no harm, take your cat clippers and gently snip the white part of the nail. Do not clip the pink part! That is where the nerves are located.
If you are uncomfortable with this, your vet can trim your kitten's nails and help you learn trimming techniques.
9. When Should I Spay or Neuter My Kitten?
We recommend that you spay or neuter your kitten at 6 months of age. Consult with your vet on the best time to have the surgery.
10. Should I Take My Kitten Outside?
Some cat owners like taking their furry friends outside. If you’re going to let your new kitten enjoy the sounds of the birds and fresh outdoors, please make sure they are completely vaccinated. And, never leave your kitten unattended.
You can also train your cat to wear a harness or create an enclosed space with screens so they feel like they are right outside with you.
We're Here to Help.
These are only a handful of questions that new pet owners ask their vet. There are also many books, blogs, and podcasts to help guide you on pet ownership. While online research is encouraged, you will want to communicate with a trusted Veterinary Physician for the most accurate feedback.
We're also here to provide routine pet care. Whenever you have questions, you can easily talk with our educated staff and set up a visit. Just give us a call at (414) 962-8040 or contact us online. We’d love to be of service.