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PET TALK: Caring for your new puppy or kitten

Wednesday 31 March 2021 | Written by Supplied | Published in Editorials, Opinion

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PET TALK: Caring for your new puppy or kitten
Apii Te Uki Ou students, from left, Rose Pierre, Aia Okotai and Lilah Likiliki play with a puppy during a visit to Te Are Manu veterinary clinic. 20062509

You’ve just adopted a new family member, what next? In the first edition of this fortnightly column, Dr Ellen McBryde, the lead veterinarian at Te Are Manu Charity Vet Clinic, provides some vital tips.

Even I can find it a little nerve-racking at first, having something so small to take care of! But a little preparation and a few simple steps can make things a whole lot easier.

The essentials:

•  Soft food for them to eat – you can soak biscuits in water or pet milk, or try canned foods. Did you know, puppy and kitten foods (unlike adult pet foods) are designed to provide all the essential nutrients needed for growth and healthy development.

•  Fresh water for them to drink – all animals, always!

•  A comfortable place for them to sleep – a box, basket, or cosy area inside is perfect for their first month at home. It’s normal for them to cry for the first few nights as they settle in to their new environment and routine. Try to avoid having them sleep in bed with you as this can be unsafe (and create bad habits!)

•  Plenty of time to give your new ball of energy lots of love and attention.

•  And don’t forget a visit to the Vet!

Worms are a serious risk to our puppies and kittens – visit us with your new fur baby as soon as you can so we can make sure they’re happy and healthy. It can be much easier to manage or prevent a problem if we see your pet straight away, rather than when they’re already sick. We’ll also be able to provide advice on how old your new pet is, exactly what you should be feeding them, when will be the right time to have them desexed, and when they need to be treated for worms and fleas again.

Young animals up to 12 weeks of age are still in their ‘socialisation period’. This means their personality is developing based on their experiences. Introducing your pet to a variety of environments, people, and other animals in a positive way can ensure your pet is well-socialised and not a trouble-maker as it matures. Be sure not to overload them though – they can have too much of a good thing!

My hot tip? If you’re planning on having your new pet wear a collar, put one on while they’re still small. Just don’t forget to adjust it while they grow – and they grow fast! The same goes for leash training puppies (and kittens if you’re so inclined), the earlier the better.