Cats do a good job of grooming themselves, but regular brushing to prevent matting of hair is important. Cats rarely need a bath, but one can be given if necessary. Cats object to bathing in slippery tubs, so give your kitten something to cling to, such as a wood platform or a wire screen. Use a shampoo designed for cats and kittens, as some dog shampoos may be irritating.
Place cotton balls in the kitten’s ears to keep out water and use an ophthalmic ointment (obtain one that is safe for kittens from your veterinarian) in its eyes to prevent burning from shampoo. Towel dry the kitten completely and gently comb out any mats. Kittens’ teeth should be carefully brushed on a regular basis. Your veterinarian can provide you with an appropriate toothbrush, dentifrice, and instruction on how to perform this task so that your kitten learns to accept this as part of its daily care.
Regular brushing, bathing, and nail care are essential. Protect your puppy’s eyes and ears when bathing, and don’t allow the puppy to become chilled after bathing. Your veterinarian may recommend that you do not bathe your puppy when it is younger than 10 to 12 weeks unless absolutely necessary (especially if your puppy is one of the smaller breeds).
Never leave dangerous objects like pins, needles, or fish hooks within reach. Keep poisonous products and materials far from your pet’s reach as you would with a child.
Of course, before an emergency ever arises, it’s a good idea to learn all you can about first aid techniques and pet health care. Never leave dangerous objects like pins, needles, or fish hooks within reach. Keep poisonous products and materials far from your pet’s reach as you would with a child. Be well aware of your pet’s normal behavior, so you can recognize what’s not normal. Remember that the objective is to relieve suffering . . . perhaps even to save a life. Emergency first aid is most effective when rendered quickly, but calmly.
A sick or injured animal is often in a frightened state, so if emergency first aid is necessary protect yourself (even if it’s your own pet); cats can be handled with gloves or wrapped in a blanket – a dog can be muzzled. If there’s any question of seriousness, keep our phone number handy with other emergency phone numbers.
Family pets (and all animals) risk all kinds of poisoning from all kinds of places. Snakes can poison; some plants can poison; and hundreds of poisonous materials are used around the home by people every day – things like pesticides, weed killers, lawn sprays, acids, fertilizers, paints . . . the list is endless.
Here’s what you can do if your pet is poisoned:
* Keep your pet warm and quiet
* Try to determine what the poison was, when it was ingested, and the amount swallowed
* Immediately call us and/or your nearest poison control center
When you bring your pet to see us, bring the container (or the label) with you. Most of the time poisoning is accidental. Keep poisonous materials out of reach, know what your pet is doing at all times, and keep emergency telephone numbers handy.
Feed a high quality diet designed for puppies. A wide variety of diets and formulations are available and your veterinarian should be your primary source of information as to the best choice for your puppy. The amount fed will vary with the type of food and the individual dog, but in general, should only be as much as the puppy can consume in 5 to 10 minutes at a given meal. Puppies are usually fed 3 times daily when between 6 and 12 weeks old, 2 times daily when 12 weeks to 6 months old, and may be fed 1 or 2 times daily when older than 6 months. For certain large breeds of dogs, your veterinarian may recommend that several smaller meals be fed rather than 1 large meal (even when your dog becomes an adult) because an association has been suggested between the consumption of large meals and a serious medical condition called gastric dilatation/volvulus or “bloat.”
Feed a high quality diet designed for kittens. Your veterinarian is your best source for information regarding an appropriate diet for your kitten. Dry foods are usually most economical and have the advantage of providing a rough surface that will help reduce plaque and tartar buildup on your kitten’s teeth, but canned foods can be fed/supplemented if desired. Amount fed will depend on the diet, as well as the age, size, and activity level of your kitten. Kittens can be fed free-choice or at set mealtimes; however, many veterinarians recommend feeding all pets at set mealtimes because intake can be more easily monitored. Canned foods should always be fed at set times, because if left unrefrigerated, they can spoil. I recommend use of stainless steel bowls because plastic and ceramic bowls can scratch, leaving crevices for bacteria to hide. The latter types of bowls (and resultant resident bacteria) have been associated with feline “acne” and skin irritation.
Dry foods are usually most economical and have the advantage of providing a rough surface that will help reduce plaque and tartar buildup on your kitten’s teeth.
Only a healthy pet is a happy companion. Assuring your pet’s daily well-being requires regular care and close attention to any hint of ill health. The American Veterinary Medical Association therefore suggests that you consult your veterinarian if your pet shows any of the following signs:
* Abnormal discharges from the nose, eyes, or other body openings.
* Abnormal behavior, sudden viciousness, or lethargy.
* Abnormal lumps, limping, or difficulty getting up or lying down.
* Loss of appetite, marked weight losses or gains, or excessive water consumption.
* Difficult, abnormal, or uncontrolled waste elimination.
* Excessive head shaking, scratching, and licking or biting any part of the body.
* Dandruff, loss of hair, open sores, or a ragged or dull coat.
* Foul breath or excessive tarter deposits on teeth.
Heatstroke may kill or seriously injure your pet—but it can easily be avoided by adhering to the following tips. Never leave pets in cars on warm days. Exercise your pet during the cool part of the day. Look out for rapid breathing, loud panting or staggering; these can be signs of dehydration, heat stroke or other problems in pets. Professional help may be needed, but, in the meantime, quickly get the animal to a shady, ventilated area and sponge him or her off with cool water.
As a loving pet owner, you’d do anything to prevent your cat or dog from suffering. After all, they’re part of the family. Yet every year when flea season begins, the suffering sets in. It’s like an old broken record. Fleas bite, and the scratching and chewing starts again. It’s a painful and irritating routine for you and your pet. But that’s just the beginning. Adult fleas jump on your cat or dog. They bite them to feed on the blood. Then the fleas produce eggs. Eggs drop from your pet to the ground or carpet. The eggs develop over time into adult fleas. And the cycle starts all over again.
An Invisible Threat
The adult fleas on your pet can actually cause serious medical problems — like flea allergy dermatitis or tapeworms, and in some extreme cases, anemia. Flea-related diseases account for more than 50 percent of dermatologic cases presented to veterinarians and more then 35 percent of the total small animal veterinary effort.
When to Start Treating?
Ideally, flea control should begin as flea prevention — before flea season starts. Depending on which part of the country you live in, your flea season can last for four months or it can be a year-long problem.
Where to Turn?
If you are in the midst of flea season and still have problems with fleas, do not despair. Your veterinarian is a flea expert and can advise you on the latest new products that kill adult fleas, eggs, and larvae, and that take care of fleas in your environment. They will base their recommendation on your regional weather conditions (high humidity and heat means more fleas on the way), your pet’s health and level of flea infestation.
Pets and Fireworks Don’t Mix
The sound of fireworks can terrify your animal. It may run away, perhaps into traffic. A pet’s ears are more sensitive than ours. Explosive noises may damage your pet’s hearing, or the pet may be injured by a falling firecracker. Remember, pets and fireworks don’t mix.
Don’t Let Your Pet Go Back to School
When the school bell rings, don’t let your pet go back to school. Many dogs and cats will naturally follow kids–or will be encouraged to tag along. Many become lost, injured, or cause a nuisance around the school yard. Keep your pet confined when children leave for school. If you drive, don’t take the pets with you. Animals learn quickly and may find their own way to school later on. Brief separations during the days just before the new school year will help those children and pets that are especially close. And if your pet is missing, call the school first.
Holiday Safety for Cats
The holiday season is a time for celebration, but can also be a time of trouble for your family cat! For example, mistletoe and artificial snow are poisonous; Christmas ornament fragments can perforate the stomach; string, ribbon, and tinsel if swallowed may cause painful intestinal problems; frayed light cords cause shock or burns. Don’t spoil your holiday with a medical emergency. As the winter months and holidays approach, you need to take time to ensure that your pets enjoy a happy, healthy holiday season.
It is best to keep pets indoors during the winter months, but if this is not possible, outdoor pets must be provided with shelter. Their home should be elevated off the ground to prevent moisture accumulation and have a door of some kind to keep out winter winds, sleet, and snow. Shelters should be insulated or heated. Water sources may be heated to permit constant access to unfrozen water; thermal units designed specifically for this purpose are readily available. Outdoor pets require extra calories to keep warm, so feed your pet according to its needs when the temperature drops. In severely cold or inclement weather, no pet should be kept outside. Indoor pets should have sleeping quarters in a draft-free, warm area with their bed or mattress elevated slightly off the floor.
Roaming cats, as well as house pets and wildlife, may climb onto vehicle engines for warmth during cold weather. Be sure to check under the hood before starting your vehicle and honk the horn to startle any animals seeking shelter inside.
Frostbite & Snow Removal Salt
Snow and salt should be removed from your pet’s paws immediately. Frostbitten skin is red or gray and may slough. Apply warm, moist towels to thaw out frostbitten areas slowly until the skin appears flushed. Contact your veterinarian as soon as possible for further care. Snow removal products should be stored out of the reach of pets and small children as their toxicity varies considerably.
Toxic Plants & Holiday/Winter Product
Plants and other items associated with the winter and holiday season can be toxic to your pets. What follows is a general guide. Please consult your veterinarian, animal poison control, and the manufacturer for specifics. Remember, the earlier you seek treatment, the better for your pet!
Poinsettia leaves/stems; balsam/pine/cedar/fir; angel hair (spun glass); Christmas tree preservatives; snow sprays/snow flock; tree ornaments; super glue; styrofoam; icicles (tinsel); and crayons/paints.
Fireplace colors/salts; plastic model cement Moderate to high toxicity holly berries and leaves; bubbling lights (methylene chloride); snow scenes (may contain salmonella); aftershaves/perfumes/alcoholic beverages; and chocolate (dark is more toxic than milk).
Mistletoe (especially berries); expoxy adhesives; and antifreeze. Please note that some items have special problems. For example, whereas angel hair is usually considered to be of low toxicity, it can irritate eyes, skin, and the gastrointestinal tract; the content of Christmas tree preservatives varies and often effects depend upon the amount ingested; styrofoam, small parts from Christmas tree ornaments and toys, as well as tinsel, can cause mechanical obstructions in the gastrointestinal tract; snow flock can cause problems if sprayed into the mouth and inhaled; and chocolate, of any type, should never be given to a pet. Antifreeze deserves special mention because even a very small amount can be rapidly fatal to pets.
Other Holiday Concerns
If you plan to take your pet with you during holiday visits, make sure that your pet is welcome first (with all the activity, it may be better to board your pet or hire a pet sitter). Holiday treats, such as rich, fatty food scraps, bones from fish, pork, and poultry, alcoholic beverages, and chocolate, can be harmful or toxic to pets. Do not allow friends and relatives to give your pet special treats it could ruin everyone’s holiday (including your veterinarian’s). Do not allow pets to play with ribbons, yarn, or six-pack beverage holders and don’t put ribbons or yarn around your pet’s neck. If you want to decorate your pet, invest in a holiday collar. These last for many years, are more attractive, and are a lot safer! Cover or tack down electrical cords.