What Is It?
Arthritis is a joint problem that can reduce mobility and cause pain. Often seen in older dogs, arthritis can by caused by injury, infection, the body’s own immune system, or developmental problems. The most common form of arthritis is called osteoarthritis (osteo = bone; arthr = joint; itis = disease) or degenerative joint disease. Normally, joints form smooth connections between bones. Osteoarthritis involves thinning of joint cartilage (a protective cushioning between bones), buildup of fluid within the joint, and the formation of bony growths within the joint. Over time, this can lead to reduced joint mobility as well as pain. Osteoarthritis affects one of every five dogs.
Signs and Diagnosis
Recognizing arthritis in dogs can be difficult because the condition progresses slowly and dogs don't complain about their aching joints. Also, some owners assume that signs of arthritis are “normal” in older animals.
Bringing your dog in for an annual checkup can help your veterinarian identify clinical signs early. Radiography (x-rays) can reveal bony growths and joint abnormalities.
Regular, moderate exercise and a high-quality diet can help delay aging, manage body weight, and keep your dog’s musculoskeletal system in good shape. Ask your veterinarian to recommend an exercise program and a diet that are appropriate for your dog.
Many human and canine pain relievers are poisonous to cats.
Aids for Arthritic Dogs
What Is Canine Otitis?
Canine chronic otitis is recurrent or persistent inflammation of the ear. One or both ears may be affected. Inflammation of the ear often leads to secondary infection caused by yeast or bacterial overgrowth. This condition can be quite painful.
Chronic otitis is most often caused by allergies to fleas, certain foods, or substances in the environment. Sometimes medical problems like thyroid disease can cause a dog to develop otitis. Certain breeds such as cocker spaniels and golden retrievers are more prone to ear infections.
Signs of Canine Chronic Otitis
Signs of otitis include head shaking, scratching, and even head rubbing against floors and furniture. The normally pink skin of the ear appears very red, and dark debris or yellow to brown discharge may be present, along with a foul odor. In dogs with dark pigmented skin, the redness may not be apparent, but debris, discharge, odor, and discomfort will be evident. This condition will persist or get progressively worse if left untreated.
Signs of Canine Chronic Otitis
Diagnosis and Treatment
Diagnosis is based on history, clinical signs, swabs of samples taken from inside the ear canal, and physical examination, including examination with an otoscope (a special tool with a light and a cone for viewing the inside of the ear canal). Your veterinarian may perform cytology, which is an examination of the swab sample from the ear specially prepared on a slide for evaluation under a microscope. The slide is examined for the presence of yeast, bacteria, and white blood cells (which fight infection). Ear mites (microscopic mites that can live inside the ear canal) can cause ear infections and also can be identified when your veterinarian looks under the microscope.
Another test commonly used to help diagnose chronic otitis is a bacterial culture and sensitivity test. For this test, your veterinarian will use a sterile swab to obtain a sample of material from inside the ear. This swab is then placed in a special tube and sent to the lab for specific identification of bacteria and yeast.
The test result also lists the most effective antibiotics against the identified bacteria.
Treatment of chronic otitis most commonly includes medicated ear-drops or cream along with a prescribed ear-cleaning regimen. Most ear medications contain a steroid to reduce inflammation, an anti-fungal medication, and an antibacterial medication. Sometimes your veterinarian will recommend pill or liquid medication to be given by mouth to help treat otitis. If your veterinarian performs a bacterial culture and sensitivity test, the results of this test will guide in the choice of antibacterial and/or anti-fungal medication. It is very important to follow the prescribed treatment, since failure to complete treatment may result in recurrence and even bacterial or fungal resistance to treatment.
Another important element of diagnosis and treatment is to identify underlying allergies. Common allergies in dogs include flea allergies, food allergies, and environmental allergies (allergy to dust, mold, pollen, and other common particles found in the environment). Your veterinarian can guide you through the identification process, which includes regular flea prevention, possibly a “hypoallergenic” food trial, and allergy-testing using specialized skin and blood tests.
Because medical problems, such as thyroid disease, can sometimes cause otitis, your veterinarian may recommend specific blood tests to look for evidence of underlying illness.
Most cases of chronic otitis are treated or managed with medication. In some extreme cases, surgery may be recommended.
Identification of underlying allergies is very important for successful long-term management and preventing “flare ups” in the future. If food allergies are identified, a special diet may be recommended to avoid offending foods. Sometimes this involves a prescription diet or a good quality store-bought diet that does not contain any of the identified allergens. If environmental allergies are identified using skin and blood tests, allergy shots may be recommended to help reduce sensitivity to the named allergens. In the case of flea allergies, regular flea prevention with a product recommended by your veterinarian is very important.
Other forms of prevention include regular ear cleaning with an ear cleanser that will help to inhibit fungal and bacterial overgrowth. Most ear cleansers also break up and flush out wax and debris that accumulate in the ear. Your veterinarian can guide you in the appropriate choice of ear cleanser, and discuss frequency of cleaning along with proper technique.
What Is Anesthesia?
Anesthesia is defined as the loss of ability to feel pain. However, the term anesthesia is more commonly used to refer to a state of deep sedation or unconsciousness during which a patient is unable to feel pain.
Two forms of anesthesia are used in dogs. For some patients, local anesthesia is an option. This involves injecting the medication into a specific place in the skin (or applying it onto an area of the skin) to induce temporary localized numbness, allowing the veterinarian to perform a brief procedure.
The affected area can include the skin, underlying muscles, and nerves. The medication used for local anesthesia does not cause the patient to fall asleep; when deep sedation or unconsciousness is required, general anesthesia is a better option. Medications used for general anesthesia are available in many forms. Some are administered by injection, whereas other forms are inhaled through an anesthetic mask or breathing tube that is connected to an anesthesia machine.
When Is Anesthesia Used?
Anesthesia has many uses in dogs. Local anesthesia may be an option if your veterinarian needs to remove a small growth on your dog’s skin, perform a biopsy of a growth or an area of skin, use stitches to close a small cut or wound, or perform any type of minimally painful procedure during which unconsciousness is not required.
General anesthesia is used for more invasive types of surgeries or for procedures likely to be very painful. Examples include repairing a broken bone or performing surgery involving the abdominal or chest cavities.
Surgery is not the only time when anesthesia is recommended. Dogs generally require anesthesia or very heavy sedation before dental cleanings, dental x-rays, or complete dental examinations. Anesthesia is sometimes used for taking x-rays of other areas of the body, especially if the patient is painful and positioning for x-rays would result in more pain. General anesthesia tends to cause muscle relaxation, which has additional advantages when x-rays of the body are required.
Sometimes, local anesthesia and general anesthesia are used together for the same procedure. For example, some veterinarians use general anesthesia to place the patient into a state of unconsciousness, then inject a local anesthetic agent into the skin and underlying tissues where surgery will be performed. The numbing effect of the local anesthetic can reduce the amount of pain that the patient experiences when he or she eventually wakes up from general anesthesia.
How Is Anesthesia Performed?
Your veterinarian may recommend a pre-anesthetic evaluation before placing your pet under general anesthesia. This process is generally not necessary for local anesthesia. The pre-anesthetic evaluation may include a physical examination to ensure that your pet is healthy enough for anesthesia. Pre-anesthetic blood work may also be recommended to help identify medical problems that may increase the risks associated with surgery or anesthesia. Pre-anesthetic blood work can help identify medical conditions such as infection, anemia (a low number of red blood cells), low blood sugar, inadequate blood-clotting ability, liver disease, or kidney disease.
If your pet has any pre-existing medical issues, such as a heart problem, your veterinarian may recommend additional testing to determine if any precautions are recommended or if anesthesia should be postponed or cancelled due to health reasons.
Some practices perform the pre-anesthetic evaluation on the day of anesthesia. However, some veterinarians perform this testing a few days or weeks before the procedure is scheduled. This is a common practice before performing an elective surgical procedure such as a dental cleaning, spay surgery, or castration surgery.
Inducing and Maintaining General Anesthesia
The process of sedating a patient and preparing him or her for entering general anesthesia is called induction. Once induction is accomplished, the patient is maintained under general anesthesia until the procedure (surgery, x-rays, biopsy, dental cleaning, or other procedure) is completed and the patient is permitted to awaken.
Induction generally begins with administration of a sedative. This helps relax the patient so that the rest of the induction activities can proceed. During this time, an intravenous catheter may be placed to begin administration of intravenous fluids. Once the patient is relaxed, additional medications are given to induce a deeper level of sedation, leading to general anesthesia. If injectable anesthetic medication is used, this medication is continued until the patient is permitted to wake up. If inhalant anesthesia is chosen, a breathing tube is inserted into the patient’s main airway (or sometimes an anesthetic mask is placed over the mouth and nose) and connected to a machine that delivers a carefully calculated mixture of oxygen and inhalant anesthetic. The patient inhales this mixture until the procedure is completed and the patient is permitted to awaken.
Both methods of general anesthesia (injectable or inhaled) will safely keep your pet asleep and pain-free. Whichever method of anesthesia is chosen, your veterinarian will take every precaution to help ensure that your pet remains healthy and awakens safely from anesthesia. Veterinary technicians observe and monitor patients that are under general anesthesia. Additionally, monitoring equipment is generally used to constantly measure heart rate, breathing, oxygen use, and blood pressure.
When the procedure is completed, the anesthetic agent is discontinued and the patient is monitored until he or she is fully awake and recovered from anesthesia.
What Are the Benefits and Risks of Anesthesia?
Keeping patients pain-free during surgery is an important goal of anesthesia, but there are many other purposes for anesthesia. If a dog has an injury that is too painful to be examined while the dog is awake, anesthesia may be the best way to facilitate a thorough examination. Additional procedures, such as placing a splint or cast on a broken leg, taking x-rays of a painful injury, or cleaning and dressing a serious wound can frequently be accomplished more efficiently if the patient is under anesthesia.
Many dental procedures, including dental cleaning, extracting an infected or broken tooth, taking dental x-rays, or performing dental restoration, are generally not possible without anesthesia.
As with any medical procedure, anesthesia is not without its risks. Some patients may react negatively to the anesthetic medication or experience fluctuations in heart rate, breathing, or blood pressure. Your veterinarian is extensively trained in performing anesthesia, and your veterinary care team will take every possible precaution to help ensure that your pet awakens safely. Be sure to address any questions or concerns with your veterinarian.
What Is Canine Adenovirus Type 2?
Canine adenovirus type 2 (CAV-2) causes respiratory disease in dogs and is one of the infectious agents commonly associated with canine infectious tracheobronchitis, which is also known as kennel cough. Canine infectious tracheobronchitis is usually spread from dog to dog through coughing. Dogs that are around other dogs, such as at boarding facilities, grooming salons, or dog parks, are at increased risk for exposure.
After CAV-2 has been transmitted to a dog, the incubation (development) period of the disease is approximately 3 to 10 days. The infection is typically self-limiting (resolving without treatment); however, in some cases, it can lead to pneumonia.
Signs of Canine Adenovirus Type 2 Infection
Common signs of CAV-2 infection include:
Diagnosis and Treatment
Infectious canine tracheobronchitis is usually diagnosed based on clinical signs and a history of possible exposure (such as a recent trip to a grooming salon or boarding facility).
Treatment of CAV-2 infection is typically limited to supportive care, which may consist of fluids, rest, and antibiotics to treat secondary infections that may develop.
A vaccine is available to prevent CAV-2 infection. However, it is important to realize that the vaccine does not completely prevent a dog from contracting CAV-2. Rather, the vaccine limits the severity of infection so that vaccinated dogs typically experience a milder form of the disease.
The CAV-2 vaccine also protects against infection with canine adenovirus type 1 (CAV-1). CAV-1 causes infectious canine hepatitis—a dangerous and potentially fatal infection. Because CAV-2 is common and the CAV-2 vaccine cross-protects against CAV-1, the CAV-2 vaccine is considered a core vaccine by organized veterinary medicine, meaning that all dogs should receive this vaccine. The CAV-2 vaccine is typically given in a combination vaccine that also protects against other serious diseases, such as canine distemper and canine parvovirus infection. Your veterinarian will recommend a vaccination schedule for your pet.
Other preventive measures include:
Dogs with kennel cough should wear a harness rather than a neck collar when taken for walks during recovery. Collars can place pressure on the trachea (the large airway that runs from the back of the throat into the lungs), which can contribute to coughing.
What Is the Calcium Level?
Calcium is an important nutrient that the body needs to maintain many of its organs. Bones, the heart, intestines, and muscles are just a few of the organs that rely on a healthy blood calcium level in order to function properly. If the calcium level in the blood drops too low or goes up too high, serious illness can result.
The calcium level is an important part of a blood test known as a chemistry panel, so it is often evaluated during routine wellness checkups or pre-surgery screening in healthy pets. Because a variety of medical conditions can affect the calcium level, your veterinarian may recommend testing your pet’s calcium level if your pet has any of the following signs of illness:
How Is the Calcium Level Measured?
To test your pet’s calcium level, your veterinary team must obtain a small blood sample. This procedure is usually very quick; it may take only a few seconds if the patient is well behaved. For patients that are very frightened or not well behaved, your veterinary team may want to use a muzzle, towel, or other gentle restraint device. In some cases, such as in patients with very thick fur, it may be necessary to shave the hair from the area where blood will be drawn. The hair will grow back, and this is often a good way to find the vein quickly.
Some veterinary offices have in-house blood analysis equipment, so they can perform the test for the calcium level in the office and have results the same day. Other offices send blood samples to an outside laboratory for the test to be performed. If an outside laboratory is used, results are generally available within 1 to 2 days.
Because a recent meal changes the blood and may affect the calcium level, your veterinarian may recommend that your pet not receive any food for 12 hours before drawing blood to perform the test. In most cases, water can still be offered. Please let your veterinarian know if this temporary fast will be a problem for you or for your pet.
Be sure to tell your veterinarian about any medications or supplements your pet may be receiving, as some products can alter the calcium level in the blood.
What Does the Calcium Level Tell Your Veterinarian?
Supplementing a pet’s diet with too much calcium or administering certain medications (such as steroids) can affect the results of a calcium level test. However, an abnormal calcium level (whether too low or too high) can also indicate a serious medical problem. Because so many of the body’s organs depend on calcium or are involved in maintaining normal blood calcium levels, abnormalities in the blood calcium level can affect the body in a variety of ways. The following are a few conditions that can cause an abnormal calcium level:
If your pet has an abnormal calcium level, your veterinarian will combine that information with other vital information about your pet to decide if further diagnostic testing is recommended to investigate the abnormal result. Additional tests may include a urinalysis (a screening test to evaluate components in the urine), radiographs (“x-rays”), or additional blood testing.
Depending on your pet’s overall condition, your veterinarian may recommend medications or other management. If the blood calcium level is dangerously low or high, hospitalization may be recommended while the problem is being corrected through fluid therapy and medications.
Are There Risks Associated With Testing the Calcium Level?
There are very few risks associated with testing the calcium level. Drawing blood usually takes only a few seconds, and your veterinary team will take precautions to ensure that your pet is not injured during this procedure. Once blood is obtained, all further processing is performed at the veterinarian’s office or at a diagnostic laboratory, so there is no risk of harm to your pet.
What Is a CBC and Chemistry Profile?
Blood testing is commonly used to help diagnose disease or pinpoint injury in animals. It can also help determine the state of your pet’s health during regular physical exam visits. Although a CBC or a chemistry profile can be performed separately, these tests are frequently done at the same time; when the results are interpreted together, they provide a good overview of many of the body’s functions. As with any other diagnostic test, results of a CBC and chemistry profile are not interpreted in a vacuum. Your veterinarian will combine this information with physical exam findings, medical history, and other information to assess your pet’s health status and determine if additional testing should be recommended.
Complete blood count (CBC)
The CBC can help determine many things about your pet, including whether he or she is dehydrated, anemic (having inadequate numbers of red blood cells), or dealing with an infection. The CBC measures the quantity and quality of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. The CBC results may list abbreviations for the various tests included in a CBC:
The chemistry profile measures a variety of chemicals and enzymes (proteins that are involved in the body’s chemical reactions) in the blood to provide very general information about the status of organ health and function, especially of the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. The chemistry profile also shows the patient’s blood sugar level and the quantities of important electrolytes (molecules like sodium, calcium, and potassium) in the blood.
How Is a CBC and Chemistry Profile Performed?
To perform a CBC and chemistry profile, your veterinary team must first obtain a small blood sample from your pet. This procedure is usually very quick; it may take only a few seconds if the patient is well behaved. For patients that are very frightened or not well behaved, your veterinary team may want to use a muzzle, towel, or other gentle restraint device. In some cases, such as in patients with very thick fur, it may be necessary to shave the hair from the area where blood will be drawn. This is often a good way to find the vein quickly, and the hair will grow back.
Some veterinary offices have in-house blood analysis equipment, so they can perform a CBC and chemistry profile in the office and have results the same day. Other offices send blood samples to an outside laboratory for these tests to be performed. If an outside laboratory is used, results are generally available within 1 to 2 days.
Because a recent meal changes the blood and may affect the results of a chemistry profile, your veterinarian may recommend that your pet not receive any food for 8 to 12 hours before blood is drawn. In most cases, water can still be offered. Please let your veterinarian know if this temporary fast will be a problem for you or your pet.
Also, be sure to tell your veterinarian about any medications or supplements that your pet is receiving, as some products can alter the results of a chemistry profile.
What Is a CBC and Chemistry Profile Used For?
A CBC and chemistry profile is an important component of wellness blood work. Your veterinarian may recommend wellness blood work during your pet’s regular exams. Even if your pet is young and healthy, performing this testing periodically helps establish “normal” values for your pet. The next time blood work is performed, your veterinarian can compare the results with previous results to see if anything has changed. Depending on your pet’s age and health history, additional tests (such as thyroid testing or urinalysis) may also be recommended as part of wellness testing. For seniors or chronically ill pets, your veterinarian may recommend blood work more frequently. Wellness blood work screens for many medical conditions, including diabetes and kidney disease. In many cases, early diagnosis and management can improve quality of life and the long-term prognosis for pets with chronic illnesses.
When a pet presents with clinical signs indicating an illness, a CBC and chemistry profile is often performed very early during the diagnostic process. Even if results of this initial testing are all “normal,” this information can rule out a variety of medical conditions. If results of a CBC and chemistry profile are abnormal or inconclusive, your veterinarian may recommend additional testing to get closer to a diagnosis.
A CBC and chemistry profile is also part of routine blood work that is performed before a pet undergoes general anesthesia for a surgical procedure. If test results are abnormal, your veterinarian may recommend additional precautions to help ensure your pet’s safety during the procedure. Your veterinarian may also recommend postponing the procedure or choosing an alternative treatment option.
Performing a CBC and chemistry panel poses minimal risk for your pet, and in many cases, the information your veterinarian gains from this testing is invaluable.
Periodontal Disease—Why Brush?
Periodontal (gum) disease can lead to tooth loss and affects most dogs before they are 3 years old. Bacteria from periodontal disease can spread to affect other organs and cause illness. One of the best ways to help prevent periodontal disease is to brush your dog’s teeth on a regular basis—daily, if he or she will allow it.
Dogs are never too young to start having their teeth brushed at home; in fact, the younger they are, the better.
Before you start brushing your dog’s teeth, have them checked by your veterinarian. Your veterinarian may recommend a dental cleaning to remove any existing plaque and tartar, which contribute to periodontal disease. If your dog has severe dental disease, extraction of the affected teeth may be recommended. Follow your veterinarian’s recommendation on how long to wait after dental cleaning or extraction before brushing your dog’s teeth.
What You Need
Note: Do not use toothpaste for people or baking soda because these can upset your dog’s stomach. Pet toothpaste comes in different flavors (e.g., poultry, beef). You may need to try a couple flavors to find the one your dog likes the best. The more your dog likes the toothpaste, the easier it will be to train him or her to accept brushing.
Other Ways to Control Plaque
Although there’s no substitute for regular toothbrushing, some dogs just won’t allow it. If you can’t brush your dog’s teeth, ask your veterinarian about plaque-preventive products. Feeding dry food may also help keep your dog’s teeth and gums in good condition. The Seal of Acceptance from the Veterinary Oral Health Council appears on products that meet defined standards for plaque and tartar control in dogs and cats.
Signs of Dental Problems
Periodontal Disease—Why Brush?
Periodontal (gum) disease can lead to tooth loss and affects most cats before they are 3 years old. Bacteria from periodontal disease can spread to affect other organs and cause illness. One of the best ways to help prevent periodontal disease is to brush your cat’s teeth on a regular basis—daily, if he or she will allow it. Cats are never too young to start having their teeth brushed at home; in fact, the younger they are, the better.
Before you start brushing your cat’s teeth, have them checked by your veterinarian. Your veterinarian may recommend a dental cleaning to remove any existing plaque and tartar, which contribute to periodontal disease. If your cat has severe dental disease, extraction of the affected teeth may be recommended. Follow your veterinarian’s recommendation on how long to wait after dental cleaning or extraction before brushing your cat’s teeth.
What You Need
Note: Do not use toothpaste for people or baking soda because these can upset your cat’s stomach. Cat toothpaste comes in different flavors (e.g., poultry, beef). You may need to try a couple flavors to find the one your cat likes the best. The more your cat likes the toothpaste, the easier it will be to train him or her to accept brushing.
Other Ways to Control Plaque
Although there’s no substitute for regular toothbrushing, some cats just won’t allow it. If you can’t brush your cat’s teeth, ask your veterinarian about plaque-preventive products. Feeding dry food may also help keep your cat’s teeth and gums in good condition. The Seal of Acceptance from the Veterinary Oral Health Council appears on products that meet defined standards for plaque and tartar control in dogs and cats.
Signs of Dental Problems
Bringing a new kitten home is exciting. The following guidelines will help you and your kitten adjust to this big change in your lives.
Kittens can leave their mother and littermates after they have been weaned, usually at 8 to 10 weeks of age. Like human babies, kittens require special care, including veterinary care, feeding, and socialization. The best time to bring a kitten home is when you have at least 1 or 2 days to focus on helping him or her adjust to new surroundings.
To safely transport your new kitten home, you’ll need a carrier. Leaving mom is a big deal for your kitten; a carrier will help him or her feel more secure. Don’t use another pet’s carrier because its smell could be stressful to your kitten. Place a towel in the carrier for warmth and to absorb urine in case of an accident. Carry an extra towel.
Before your kitten has contact with other cats, he or she must be tested for feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus, given a physical examination, tested and treated for parasites, and vaccinated. This will prevent the spread of a disease or parasites to other pets. If you have other pets, talk to your veterinarian about how to introduce your kitten to them.
Before you bring your kitten home, prepare a small room or space that will be his or her own for the first few days or weeks. Having a smaller area to explore at first will help your kitten get comfortable with his or her new home. Cats don’t like to eat next to the litterbox, so place the litterbox on one side of the room and the food and water dishes on the other. Make sure that your kitten can get in and out of the litterbox without help; it might be necessary to provide a litterbox with low sides. To help your kitten feel secure, make sure that the room has hiding places. If there isn’t furniture to hide beneath, place cardboard boxes on their sides or cut doorways into them. Providing a warm, comfortable bed is essential. You can purchase a pet bed or line a box with something soft; using a sweatshirt that you’ve worn will help your kitten get used to your scent.
When you bring your kitten home, put the carrier in the room you’ve prepared. Open the carrier door, but let your kitten come out when he or she is ready. After your kitten comes out, leave the carrier in the corner as another hiding place. Every day, scoop out the litterbox and provide fresh food and water.
Your kitten may hide at first, but he or she will explore when no one is watching, becoming more comfortable with his or her new home. Your kitten will likely want plenty of attention from you—you’re his or her new mother/littermate!
After your kitten has been to your veterinarian, becomes comfortable in his or her room, and develops a regular routine of eating, drinking, and using the litterbox, you can let him or her venture into the rest of your house. At this point, you need to make sure that your kitten stays safe and has enough privacy to eat, sleep, and use the litterbox. Keep your kitten’s bed, litterbox, and food/water dishes in the same place so that he or she knows where to find them.
Kittens receive some immunity (protection against disease) from their mothers at birth and through nursing. Because this immunity slowly wears off, kittens should be vaccinated against various diseases on a schedule, beginning at 2 to 3 months of age. Ask your veterinarian for details.
Intestinal parasites are common in kittens. Fecal examinations and treatments (dewormings) are usually repeated until two consecutive fecal examinations have negative results. External parasites (fleas, ticks, and mites) are treated with products approved for use on kittens.
Kittens should be spayed or neutered by 6 months of age. This helps to control pet overpopulation and reduces the chance of behavior problems and some medical conditions.
Proper nutrition is especially important for kittens, which need two to three times as many calories and nutrients as adult cats. A mother cat’s milk provides everything a kitten needs during the first 4 weeks of life. Cow’s milk should never be given to kittens or cats because it can give them diarrhea. Most kittens are completely weaned between 8 and 10 weeks of age. At 6 to 7 weeks of age, kittens should be able to chew dry food. Feed a name-brand kitten food with the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) statement on the bag or labeluntil your kitten is approximately 9 to 12 months old. When your kitten is 3 to 6 months old, feed him or her three times per day. When your kitten is 6 months old, start feeding twice daily.
Cats learn how to socialize with each other from their mother and littermates; therefore, if possible, kittens should remain with their mother and/or littermates until they are about 10 weeks old. Kittens that have human contact before they are 10 to 12 weeks old are more likely to interact well with people throughout their lives. Handling and playing with your kitten can help you bond with him or her. Feral (wild) cats haven’t been socialized with people as kittens and may fear and avoid people throughout their lives. Your kitten should be gradually introduced to other pets with care and supervision. Ask your veterinarian for advice on the best way to do this.
Enjoy your new kitten, and let your veterinarian know if you have any questions.
Should I Breed My Dog?
Most shelters and rescue organizations are overflowing with mixed breed and purebred dogs that are perfectly friendly and adoptable, but there simply aren’t enough homes for them. As a result, approximately three to four million unwanted dogs and cats are euthanized each year, according to the Humane Society of the United States. Producing more puppies, for any other reason than to improve the breed, just exacerbates the problem.
Dogs that have temperament problems, such as aggression or excessively submissive behavior, should not be bred. Dogs that have inherited medical conditions, such as hip dysplasia, also should not be bred.
What’s Involved in Raising a Litter?
Before you breed your dog, honestly consider if you have the time, commitment, and finances required to raise a litter. Ask yourself the following questions:
What Are My Responsibilities as a Breeder?
Good breeders take responsibility for their puppies not just until they find a new home, but for a lifetime. Reputable breeders:
There are always potential risks associated with pregnancy and birth, especially with very young or very old dogs.
Whether you breed your dog or not, spaying or neutering can help eliminate some potential health problems. Female dogs that are spayed are less likely to develop breast cancer and pyometra, an infection of the uterus that requires emergency surgery. Male dogs that are neutered are less likely to develop testicular cancer. Certain types of aggression are also less likely to occur in dogs that are spayed or neutered.
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