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Puppy Parenthood 101: Navigating the First Steps to a Healthy, Happy Puppy or Kitten.

Updated: Apr 11

Bringing a new puppy or kitten into your home is an exciting adventure filled with joy, but it also comes with the responsibility of ensuring your fur baby's well-being.

In this brief guide, I'll cover with you the essential tips for new puppy/kitten owners, from safety precautions to the importance of proper healthcare.

New Puppy/Kitten Safety Tips:

  1. Puppy/Kitten-Proof Your Space: Before your new bundle of fur arrives, make sure your home is a safe place. Remove potential hazards such as electrical cords, toxic plants (saga palms, lilies, poinsettias), and small objects that could be swallowed.

  2. Designate a Cozy Space: Create a comfortable and secure space where your puppy or kitten can retreat when needed. A crate or a specific area with their bed and toys will help them feel safe. Check out my new puppy/kitten-approved essentials by clicking here.

  3. Supervision is Key: Keep a close eye on your pup, especially during the first few weeks. Puppies are naturally curious and may get into mischief if left unsupervised. I don't recommend allowing children to be with young puppies or kittens unattended. Most of the puppy/kitten ER visits I've seen during the holiday season were accidental injuries from children playing around or with the new pet unattended. I've even seen the extent of a new puppy who was dropped by accident while the kids were playing and fell against a hard surface causing irreversible brain damage and that puppy was unfortunately euthanized.


Getting Pet Insurance:

Welcoming a new puppy or kitten also means considering their long-term health and potential emergency encounters. Pet insurance is a highly valuable investment in my professional opinion, that can provide significant financial assistance for unexpected medical expenses. I could tell you to research different plans all over the internet on your own however, let me cut out the hard work for you by telling you about Pet Insurance Review. This lovely website will show you various side-by-side comparisons of all the top pet insurance brands on the current market. Pet Insurance Review also has the MOST insurance partners as compared to a similar competitor and has the most pet owner insurance reviews available.


First Vet Visit:

The first visit to the vet is a crucial step toward your puppy's health and well-being. Ensuring your new furry friend has had all the right vaccines is crucial, especially when it comes to the dreaded distemper and parvovirus. Both viruses can become fatal quickly and cost hundreds to thousands of dollars with hopes (and not a guarantee) to revive them. A typical hospital stay for these life-threatening viruses (more commonly Parvovirus) can range anywhere from 3-10 days in hospital with aggressive treatment and therapies. The level of nursing care is what can end up contributing to a large portion of the cost simply because of how much PPE (personal protection equipment) is needed to eliminate any spread/contamination of the virus to the environment and of course to other pets in the hospital.

During this appointment:

  1. Complete Check-Up: The vet will conduct a thorough physical examination to assess your puppy's overall health. They will listen want to listen to their heart and lungs for any abnormalities. They will listen carefully for any detection of abnormal heart sounds/rhythm and lung sounds. They will also check them over for any other abnormal anatomy.

  2. Vaccination Schedule: Discuss and establish a vaccination schedule tailored to your puppy or kitten's needs. Vaccinations protect against common diseases and set the foundation for a healthy life.

  3. Parasite Prevention: Address parasite prevention strategies, including deworming and flea/tick control, as it is common for new puppies and kittens to come to you as the new pet parent with some sort of "worm burden" (roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, whipworms, coccidia).

  4. Nutritional Guidance: Consult with your Vet about a balanced diet suitable for your puppy or kitten's breed, age, and specific health requirements. AVOID grain-free diets as these diets have been proven to cause certain cardiac diseases, especially those breeds who are already genetically predisposed. Make sure if you're going to elect a home-cooked diet or RAW diet, you should consult with your family vet before doing so to keep you and your new pet safe. If you ask, your Vet can refer you to a "Board-Certified Veterinary Nutritionist" who can ensure the home diet is "BALANCED and COMPLETE". These consults are almost always available virtually which is nice and cost can be roughly around $100-$300 for a consultation. I recommend consulting with Dr. Laura Gaylord if you desire to make your new pets' food at home.


Let's Talk about Proper and Trustworthy Vaccination:

Vaccines are a cornerstone of preventive healthcare for your puppy.

Here's a guide to understanding and ensuring proper vaccination:

  1. Core Vaccines: protect against severe, life-threatening diseases & viruses such as Canine Distemper & Parvovirus in dogs, Feline Panleukopenia, Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis ("Feline Herpes Type 1"), Feline Caliciviruses, Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLv) in kittens only and for both species Rabies virus.

  2. Non-Core Vaccines: protect against mild to moderately life-threatening diseases & viruses such as Bordetella ("kennel cough"), Canine Influenza, Canine Parainfluenza ("Canine Cough"), Lyme disease, & Leptospirosis, Feline Chlamydophilus felis (" Feline Chlamydia"), Feline Bordetellosis, Feline Leukemia (FeLv) in adult cats only.

  3. Vaccination Schedule: Work closely with your family Vet to establish a vaccination schedule. Puppies & Kittens typically receive a "series" of shots, starting at around 6-8 weeks of age, and will be boostered 2-3 times within an 8-10 week timeframe before they're able to have the vaccines just yearly. At the age of 12-16 weeks, your puppy or kitten will get their first Rabies vaccine which can be required by law in most states in the US. *Vaccinated puppies and kittens will not have immunity coverage for at least 7-10 days after the vaccine "series" has been completed.

  4. Regular Boosters: It is ESSENTIAL to keep up with their initial booster shots (every 2-3 weeks apart) to maintain immunity throughout your pets' life. The timeframes suggested have to do with how the your puppy or kittens body builds immunity.

  5. Do not ever take a breeder's word for proof of vaccination. Unless they have veterinary records confirming proper vaccination from a licensed veterinarian (DVM) To be frank, most veterinary professionals will agree that they consider breeder given vaccine records null and void, unless otherwise proven. This is because many breeders will purchase vaccines through non-veterinary resources, which can lack efficacy due to improper shipping & handling. *Vaccines and their handling measures while being shipped are imperative. If vaccines are not handled properly and kept at a specific temperature at all times, then those vaccines can become VOID. I cannot stress to you dear reader how many times I've seen personally puppies or kittens come in very sick even though the breeder claimed the puppy/kitten had been vaccinated by them at home.

Remember, the key to a happy and healthy pet is a combination of love, attention, and proactive healthcare. By following these suggestive guidelines, you'll be well on your way to providing your new furry family member with the best start in life! 🐾✨ #PuppyCare #NewPuppyTips #PetHealthJourney

With Love,

Your Favorite Veterinary Nurse

Katie, RVT


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