Pet Care

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New Puppy

This is an exciting time but remember a lot has changed very quickly for your new puppy so it can be quite a scary time for them.

When you collect your puppy ask the breeder for a piece of bedding with the puppy’s mums’ scent on it, and at least 1 weeks’ worth of the puppy food they have been using.  A sudden change in your puppy’s diet could upset their tummy.  Also, giving them lots of treats that they would not be used to might upset their tummy.  If you decide to change your puppy’s food, do it gradually, introduce the new food alongside their current food for a week to avoid tummy upsets. 

Puppy’s mum will have been producing dog appeasing pheromone from her mammary area and this can be replaced by using the synthetic version – ADAPTIL. It comes as a plug-in, spray or collar. Using these products can help your puppy feel relaxed as they adapt to their new home.

Crate training creates a den/safe area for your puppy and helps with toilet training. When they wake up you can lift them from the crate and take them straight outside so they don’t have the opportunity to toilet in the house and quickly learn that outside is where they should go to the toilet.

Puppies need to learn to cope with being alone as it helps prevent separation anxiety. Start off by leaving them somewhere safe for short periods of time then gradually increase the length of time so that they learn that they will be fine on their own while you go out to do the shopping, go to work etc.

The critical socialization period for puppies is between 6 and 16 weeks old.  You can introduce them to dogs you know have up to date vaccinations and are healthy in the confines of a garden that you know unvaccinated dogs do not have access to before your puppy is fully vaccinated.  Do not take them to the park or anywhere unvaccinated dogs may have been until they are protected by their vaccines (see page on vaccinations).

Make sure you introduce your puppy to people who look and act differently, adults, children, men and women.

Bringing your new puppy to visit us just for a treat and a cuddle will help them learn that a visit to the vet need not be scary or unpleasant.

Puppy Schools are great for socialization and basic training for puppies and owners. The Dogs Trust run Puppy Schools throughout Northern Ireland. Contact us for more information.

New Kitten

Be prepared for your little bundle of fun and energy!

Choose a room and prepare it for your new kitten. Remove any plants, loose wires, and close any windows.

Purchase separate bowls for food and water, not a double bowl as cats prefer their eating and drinking areas to be separate. They love their water bowls filled to the brim or running water.

Make sure the litter tray is big enough for your kitten to turn around in as they like to dig and bury. Litter needs to be quite deep and if the tray is big, it cuts down on scattered cat litter. Some cats prefer privacy, so covered litter trays are available or you can place a tray in a large cardboard box. Clean the tray daily, cats are much more sensitive to smell than us and may decide to toilet outside the tray if they think it smells badly.

Make sure the litter tray, water bowl and food bowl are all well away from each other.

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It is also a good idea to buy a cat carrier that can have the top opened or removed.  Use your carrier as a feeding station and/or bed so when you need to go to the vet your cat will not associate the carrier with a vet visit and therefore won’t be as worried.  A fabric carrier might look nice but when you lift it it may collapse around your cat which is unpleasant for them.   Make sure your cat will have plenty of space in their carrier as they grow.  Being put in a cramped carrier is not pleasant for them and that will make getting them into it unpleasant for you.

Kittens may want to hide away for a while until they become used to their new surroundings.  This is totally normal. If introducing a new kitten to resident cats take everything slowly. You can swap their bedding so they smell each other without having to see each other, allow them to sniff at each other under doors, rub around their chin and jaw with a piece of cloth then use that cloth to rub the other cat and around to rub around doors.

If introducing a new kitten to a resident dog always keep the dog on a lead and use treats as a training aid as positive reinforcement, little and often is better.

Always have one more water bowl and litter tray than you have cats. ALWAYS remember, for example, 2 cats need 3 litter trays and bowls; 3 cats need 4 and so on.  Don’t put them all beside each other, this will mean cats can have privacy from another and not feel threatened by a greedier cat while they eat or drink.

Cat trees are a great idea as cats love to be high up and it makes them feel safer. They also love toys that light up and glitter.

Feliway Optimum pheromone diffuser can help kittens settle into a new home.  It may also help other cats in the house to accept the new arrival.

Cats are very easily stressed so anything you can do to make the change easier for them is helpful.

guinea pigs, rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, degus

Caring for Small Furries

HEALTHCARE

  • Apart from rabbits these pets do not require vaccination.
  • They do need their teeth and nails checked regularly.
  • Their teeth grow continuously throughout their life, so if they do not wear them down as quickly as they grow, they can cause problems.
  • Take your pet to the vet if you find any lumps and bumps.
  • If they are not eating or drinking this is regarded as an emergency in these species so contact your vets as soon as possible.

Rabbits will need treatments applied from March to September to avoid Flystrike.

NUTRITION

  • Picking the correct diet for your pet is very important and can avoid a lot of health problems.  Speak to our nurse for advice. It is best to try to mimic their natural diet.
  • They need constant access to fresh water which should be changed daily.

ENRICHMENT

Boredom and loneliness can cause self-mutilation. For certain species it is advisable to keep pairs but be sure to ask our vet about neutering before putting animals together. Keep them stimulated with food toys and make sure they have plenty of space to exercise, as well as areas to hide and sleep.

Don’t forget a lot of small furries are nocturnal so will be awake and noisy during our sleeping hours. This can be a problem when trying to handle them during the day as they want to sleep and can be grumpy.

HANDLING

Getting your pet used to being handled allows you to clean their housing without them being fearful and stressed.  This means you will be able to enjoy interacting with them more.   It also allows the vet to handle them and carry out a more thorough examination.

ENVIRONMENT

  • Their housing should be warm and well ventilated; away from predators, including other pets in your house, e.g. dogs and cats.
  • Provide a bed area and a few places they can hide.
  • Try to mimic their natural environment, hamsters live in desert areas so a glass tank with a deep layer of sand so they can dig is great.
  • Their housing needs to be big enough to allow adequate exercise.

HYGIENE

  • Remove droppings and soiled bedding daily. 
  • Bowls and toys should be cleaned weekly.
  • Once a month fully clean the full tank, cage, etc.  Use hot soapy water and a pet-safe cleaning spray.

Pet Care Chart

Click the button below to download our free pet care chart showing you important milestones in your pet’s development. It covers dogs, cats, and rabbits.