I recently had a friend buy a puppy and with it come so many questions. Taking on a puppy or a kitten is a huge responsibility and as a vet, I get about half an hour during the first vaccine to discuss as much about bringing it up as I can… sometimes, if the breeder has had the first vaccine done already, we won’t see the baby until it’s second vaccine, usually 10 weeks old or even later! That is not enough.
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There’s so much you can do to get a great adult cat or dog but you have to put the work in and it helps to do it when it’s young. With dogs, you have until it’s about 16 weeks of age to get your social interactions and behaviours in place (even less time with breeds like a staffie). If this isn’t done, we end up with worried or anxious animals and with that can come a whole world or problems like separation anxiety and even aggression.
I would strongly advise things like puppy school or just consultations with a behaviourist is you can get tips and advice and work out fo you’re doing anything wrong.
I always advise during those first consults, to be firm but kind. I like people to get the animal used to being examined too. The amount of people who don’t or can’t look inside their dogs mouth is unbelievable. How are you going to spot a problem until it’s causing things like pain that’s enough to cause a clinical sign like inappetence! Look down your dogs or cats ears often. Clean them? You’d do it to a child wouldn’t you? Touch their feet. If it’s one thing a lot of them hate, it’s having their nails cut. If you start touching their toes at a young age and use treats as you clip them even just one nail every few days, it will make a massive difference and a lot less stress.
With kittens, things like laser pens can actually cause frustration! I wouldn’t recommend them. Buy them different toys with different colours and textures to keep them focused. Play with them daily!
Other things we recommend is health insurance. If you’ve followed me a while you’ll know it’s the thing that distresses me most and makes me do less and less clinic work. We DO NOT HAVE NHS for animals and medicine costs a lot! It’s not the vet that gets the money and we certainly aren’t allowed to recommend things if they’re not warranted. We have to have a valid reason to do tests or we’d get struck off so we are definitely not recommending things for the sake of it. If you don’t get insurance, you need to make sure you have the funds. You’re animal will get ill at some point just like us, and we want to be able to treat it, not be put in a terrible emotionally draining position like having to euthanise.
This leads me on to preventative care. Again, we don’t recommend this just for a laugh or for commission. We genuinely want your pet to stay healthy!
Would you believe it, vaccines do work! Ever wondered why we don’t see distemper in the UK any more? It’s because it’s one of the components in the vaccines! We rarely see feline leukaemia now either. If you don’t vaccinate, you are relying on the 80% of the population that do to keep the disease at bay. If you don’t vaccinate, a lot of people titre test which is better than nothing I suppose.
Lastly, neuter your pets! We have so much more research in to neutering than we did when I started in vet school. We do like to castrate and spey later now if you have a large or giant breed as we know the hormones help slow the last part of growth down so there’s less chance of things like hip and elbow dysplasia. People worry it will change their dog’s behaviour and if you have questions, please ask and ask your vets and nurses! I still see older animals with things like prostate cancer and cysts or pyrometra (uterine infection) and breast cancers, which are be life threatening and means an old dog or cat having to be taken to surgery. All these things are prevented by neutering when they are young.
So there’s my vetty rant for this week! Message me if you have any questions!
The Vogue Vet