Puppy guide

Preparing for your new puppy

Preparing for the arrival of your new puppy in advance help put your puppy at ease and make its first experience happy ones. Puppies require a lot of time, patience and training. The time and effort you put in will reward you with a puppy that is well socialised and friendly.

  • First thing first, you will need to find out from your breeder or the pet shop what the puppy is feeding on. It is advisable to continue on this diet before gradually changing the diet if you wish so as not to upset the puppy’s stomach.
  • Feed your puppy a premium food. Wet or dry food is fine, and a combination of both is the best approach. Avoid artificial additives such as flavourings, colours and preservatives as these may cause health problems in a long run.
  • Choose a good quality commercial treat that you can use to reward your pup for good behaviour.
  • You will also need bedding and blanket so that your puppy has a warm and soft place to sleep. Food and water bowls – heavy ones are the best as they can’t be knocked over.
  • Your puppy will need toys to play with, to develop its skills and enrich its play time. Chew items are essentials to help with teething and prevent puppies from chewing your shoes.
  • Crate or puppy pen to keep your puppy safe and allow you to leave it for short periods of time and also protect your carpet areas.
  • ‘Puppy proof' your home by ensuring that there are no dangers to the puppy left around the home.

An important step is to 'kitten proof' your home by ensuring that there are no dangers to the kitten left around the home (e.g. chemicals, detergents, cleaners etc., breakable items, exposed electrical cords, and small spaces where a kitten could get stuck). It can be useful to go around on your hands and knees looking at your home from the point of view of a kitten to make sure you have as much as possible anticipated every potential hazard.

Bringing your Puppy home

Puppy may be quite fearful and insecure of the new environment and distressed from being separated from their mother and littermates. Sometimes the breeder will give you a small piece of cloth or bedding with the mother dog’s or littermates' scent on it to take home with the puppy. The familiar smell should help your puppy to feel more comfortable and relaxed

Ensure that the puppy is not fed just before you travel, this will reduce the likelihood of it being car sick on the journey home. If the journey is a long way, your puppy may need a toilet break. If it isn’t vaccinated yet, you can’t put it on the ground so have some toilet training pads in the car.

Put some soft bedding in its carrier/crate and a blanket that it has previously slept on so that it feels comfortable on its trip home in the car.

Once you arrive home, keep an eye on your puppy's behaviour. If they're looking stressed or worried, reassure them. However, it's not a good idea to come running every time pup makes a sound or you'll run the risk of creating a pet that suffers separation anxiety. Let it explore the house, but make sure you keep a watchful eye.

The first night will most likely be difficult for the both of you. Make sure that it is feeling tired as it will settle more quickly - having a game before bedtime will make it easier. Some puppies may be distressed on suddenly finding themselves on their own, putting a hot water bottle, a ticking clock in the puppy's bed to simulate his or her mother's heartbeat will help them feel better. Playing some music will create the atmosphere that they are not alone. It's also a good idea to put a soft toy in the bed for the puppy to cuddle.

The first few days

During the first few days, your puppy may feel timid and scared. Don’t be tempted to invite all your friends and neighbours around. It is important to give it time and space to adjust. The first 24 hours should be a calm period for the puppy to settle in.

If there are children in the household, the first few interactions need to be well managed, so that neither puppy nor children get frightened. It's important to let your children know that a puppy is not a toy and needs to be treated with care. So no teasing, tail/ear pulling or shouting.

If you have another dog, think about how it generally behaves before you introduce the new puppy. Is your existing dog friendly, sociable and used to interactions with other dogs? If not, she might be more tolerant with a puppy but pay close attention to any signs of aggression.

Before the big meeting, make sure any toys, food or bowls are removed – anything you think your dog might get possessive about to avoid instant jealously. Introduce them through a gate/ crate so there is a barrier between them. This way, they can sniff each other, get used to each other's smell while keeping the puppy protected (just in case). It may be a good idea to keep them separated at first, but do ensure a gradual contact, and make sure you are there to supervise.

Routine

Puppies prefer routines so from the first establish routines such as feeding, play time, toilet and sleep time.

  • Puppies need to eat to at least three to four meals a day until six months of age. After which you can reduce to two meals a day. If you are unsure of how much to feed your puppy, check with the vet.
  • Puppies tire easily so make sure that the puppy has a little safe haven for it to rest or sleep. A crate or puppy pen is ideal for it to settle into. Leaving it in a puppy pen or crate from time to time also help your puppy gets used to being alone so that it does not develop separation problems.
  • Puppies will likely need to go toilet after every feeding, playtime and naptime. Decide where you want your puppy to do its business. Giving him or her time to get used to this area will be the best introduction to toilet training.
  • Watch out for signs of needing to go – such as sniffing and circling inside the house
  • Accidents inside the house may happen. She is only a puppy and hasn't been taught this isn't acceptable yet. Be calm and take her to the toileting area regularly.
  • Take your puppy to the toileting area and praise pup for going in the right spot. Ignore any accidents and NEVER ever rub a puppy's nose in its waste.

Day to Day Care for your Puppy

Biting

Biting is most common in young puppies, especially whilst playing and during teething. It's up to you to teach your puppy what is acceptable and what is not.

Scolding alone will never teach them to stop biting. You need to develop respect between the two of you. Remember to be consistent with your training. Don't let your puppy bite sometimes. Otherwise they'll receive mixed messages.

Allowing your puppy to socialise with other puppies and dogs will help them learn good manners and self-control. The reactions from other pups and dogs will let them know if they're being too rough. Don't be too worried as this is a natural process and the puppy must experience this for himself.

Jumping

Start teaching your puppy from an early age that it is not OK to jump up on people. As well as being annoying, it can be dangerous (particularly with small children or the elderly). When your puppy is jumping up on you, be gentle and place his paws back on the ground and reward him with a treat. You will have to maintain this training repeatedly, so be patient and consistent. Don't allow him to jump up on you sometimes and ensure other people are not encouraging such behaviour.

Puppy school

Taking your puppy-to-puppy school can make a real difference to their behaviour by giving them an introduction to basic obedience and enhancing the chances of having a well-mannered adult pet.

Puppy school can strengthen the trust that grows between the two of you and can give you the confidence to take him out to more places knowing he'll be obedient. It's also a lot of fun watching your puppy playing with other dogs in a controlled environment.

Importantly, it provides further education for you on all aspects of pet care and enables you to have discussions with people who may be experiencing similar issues and share the advice.

There are lots of puppy schools out there. Have a read up on each to find out which works best for you and your pup.

Keeping the Puppy healthy

Vaccinations

One of the most important things you can do to ensure that your puppy stays healthy is to have him or her vaccinated. Vaccinations protect your puppy/dog against diseases such as distemper, parvovirus and hepatitis Kittens should receive two injections between 8 weeks and 12 weeks of age. After the initial puppy injections, please speak to your vet for specific advice on when to bring your adult dog in for ongoing vaccinations, which is generally no more frequent than every three years.

Worming /Flea Treatment

Every puppy carries a burden of worms which are passed from their mother through milk or placenta. Roundworms are the main problem in young puppies. Make sure your puppy is wormed every two weeks up to 12 weeks with a good quality wormer and monthly until six month. After which, once every three months.

It is vitally important to treat your puppy for fleas. Fleas may be tiny but they can cause big problems, especially for young puppies. If you don't fleas will not only affect your puppy, but may take over your house. Flea treatments can be administered in a variety of ways including sprays and spot-on liquid. Once again your vet can advise you on the most suitable product for your kitten.

Microchipping

Microchipping is a way of protecting your pets if they are being stolen or lost. Cats love to roam and the chances of them being missing or stolen are high. Microchipping is a safe and painless procedure for your cats and it is relatively cheap. This has been recognised as the most effective way of identifying your puppy as the chip can be easily read using scanners found at all vets and rescue centres. Don’t forget to update the contact details held on the database if you move house or change contact number.

Desexing

Desexing is important not only to prevent unwanted litters, but also to prevent undesirable behaviours such as roaming, fighting and spraying in males. This should be done by the age of five to six months before the puppy becomes sexually mature. Desexing also has health benefits for your dog including preventing worm infections and mammary disease for female dogs later in life

The Kitten Guide

Congratulations on giving a home to your new kitten. It’s one of the most rewarding things you can do, and has positive benefits for everyone in the house, from the very young to the very old. But taking responsibility for a new life is not without its challenges. Bringing your kitten up well and providing a healthy, stable and safe environment are critically important, as is ensuring regular veterinary care. This booklet is designed to give you useful guidance on the early days and beyond, with insights on everything from vaccinations to toilet training.

Preparing the kitten’s room in advance so you can concentrate on giving the new arrival the love and encouragement it needs to settle in comfortably.

  • First thing you will need is a travel crate or a cardboard travel box to transport your kitten from the breeder or pet shop to your home or places like the vet.
  • Choose a corner or a room where your kitten sleeps. Cats like routine, so put the kitten’s bed where you plan for it to stay as it gets older
  • Position the litter tray in a discreet corner of the room, with the food bowl in the opposite direction and the water away from both, as cats dislike drinking next to food.
  • You will also need a bed. Kittens are happy to sleep in a box, but a soft bed, cane basket or its travel crate can also be a suitable bed for your new little family member.
  • A cat scratching post is a must. Your kitten will need toys to play with, to develop its skills and enrich its play time.
  • ‘Kitten proof’ your home by ensuring that there are no dangers to the kitten left around the home.

Bringing your kitten home

  • Put soft bedding in its carrier/crate so that it feels comfortable on its trip home in the car.

The first few days

During the first few days, your kitten may feel timid and scared. It is important to give it time and space to adjust. The first 24 hours should be a calm period for the kitten to settle in. If there are children in the household, they should understand that the kitten needs to be left alone for it to adjust to its new surroundings. Allow family members to visit individually rather than all at once.

If the kitten is feeling shy or insecure, do not coax it out of its hiding place. Just be patient and allow the kitten to get to know you or the other family members at his or her own pace.

You can start off by spending time in the room reading a book or watching television so that the kitten can get used to your presence. You might need to do this a few times, maybe even over a few days. Over a period of time, the kitten will start to trust you and come closer to you. It won’t take long for the kitten to work out you are his new family member.

If you have other pets, it is a good idea to avoid them meeting each other. Cats like to have their own space. It can be a good idea to rub your kitten with a piece of cloth and then let other pets smell the cloth. Then let the kitten smell a cloth with the scent of your older cats or dogs. This way they get used to each other’s smell before they see each other. The easiest way to begin the actual introduction is to put sort of barrier between your new kitten and other cats or dogs so they sniff him or her. After initial introductions this way you can gradually let them meet each other face to face but this should be supervised.

Getting to know your new family member

It’s important to get to know your kitten in order to create a bond Interaction should take place during the times when your kitten starts to feel more comfortable in your home. During the first couple of days, any physical contact should ideally take place when the kitten initiates it. After that handle it throughout the day for short periods, and only allowed limited supervised contact for young children. This would avoid the kitten from being over handled. Spend time on the floor playing at the kitten’s level. Play with it if it seems interested, but don’t preserve if it appears anxious. Kittens need plenty of sleep when they are young. even more so than adult cat. So it should never be woken up for cuddles or play time.

  • Bring home a small piece of cloth or bedding with the mother cat’s or littermates’ scent. The familiar smell should help your kitten to feel more comfortable and relaxed.
  • When you get home, place the crate/carrier in your chosen corner/room and open the lid. Allow the kitten to explore at its own time.
  • Show the kitten where its bed, food and water bowl and litter tray are, once it feels comfortable you may leave the room for it to settle in. The kitten might show little interest in food at this stage but don’t worry about it.
  • The first night will most likely be difficult for the both of you. Make it easier by putting a hot water bottle and a ticking clock in the kitten’s bed to simulate his or her mother’s heartbeat. It’s also a good idea to put a soft toy in the bed for the kitten to cuddle.

Day to Day Care for your Kitten

Behaviour

It is important to set some basic rules for your new kitten so that he or she knows how you expect it to behave. Climbing up the curtains may seem cute or funny when it is a little kitten, but it won't be so funny when it is an adult cat and the curtains are torn to shreds. It is also important that you direct your kitten's urge to scratch towards its scratching post and not your furniture. If you find that your kitten is having toileting accidents, try putting some of his or her droppings in the litter tray so that he or she gets the idea of where they are supposed to go. Give your kitten consistent directions that are firm without being harsh and always make sure that you praise them for doing the right thing. Positive reinforcement is always the best incentive!

Kitten’s Menu

Your kitten is totally dependent on you for their health and nutritional needs so they grow into a strong, healthy cat. It is advisable to continue to give your kitten the same food that the breeder fed it for at least a few weeks. If you would like to change your kitten’s diet, it should be done gradually else it will upset the kitten’s stomach. Feed your kitten a premium food that consists of at least 26% protein as cats are carnivores. Wet or dry food is fine, and a combination of both is the best approach. Kittens need to be fed at least three meals per day until they are about five months old. You can gradually reduce their food so that by the time they are about nine months old they are being fed twice a day.

Keeping Your Kitten healthy

Vaccinations

One of the most important things you can do to ensure that your kitten stays healthy is to have him or her vaccinated. Vaccinations protect your kitten/cat against the following diseases. Kittens should receive two injections between 9 weeks and 13 weeks of age. These injections protect the kittens from three major and very serious diseases: cat flu, feline enteritis and most importantly feline leukaemia virus. To develop maximum immunity, a third injection is offered as an optional extra but should be considered as an essential part as feline leukaemia is one of the biggest killers of young cats.

Every kitten carries a burden of worms which are passed from their mother through milk or placenta. You should worm your kitten every two weeks up to 12 weeks of age, then monthly until six months. After they reach the age of six months, all cats should be wormed every three months. Use a good quality wormer, if you are unsure, your vet can advise you on which one is the best for your kitten. It is vitally important to treat your kitten for fleas. Fleas may be tiny but they can cause big problems, especially for young kittens. If you don't fleas will not only affect your kitten, but may take over your house. Flea treatments can be administered in a variety of ways including sprays and spot-on liquid. Once again your vet can advise you on the most suitable product for your kitten.

Microchipping

Microchipping is a way of protecting your pets if they are being stolen or lost. Cats love to roam and the chances of them being missing or stolen are high. Microchipping is a safe and painless procedure for your cats and it is relatively cheap. This has been recognised as the most effective way of identifying your kitten as the chip can be easily read using scanners found at all vets and rescue centres. Don’t forget to update the contact details held on the database if you move house or change contact number.

Desexing

Desexing is important not only to prevent unwanted litters, but also to prevent undesirable behaviours such as roaming, fighting and spraying in males. This should be done by the age of five to six months before the kitten becomes sexually mature. Desexing also has health benefits for your cat including preventing womb infections and mammary disease later in life.

KITTEN LOVE

According to Petplan’s recent survey, pet owners are indulgent of their pets: 86% of the pet owners spent money on pet accessories and 75% of owners consider their pet to be an integral member of the family. 83% would cut back on a family holiday or other luxury items to pay for their pet’s treatment when they are ill.

Source: Petplan Pet Census 2011

OFF THE MENU:

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  • Accidents can happen – a full Petplan Policy can provide you with the peace of mind you need

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