Bottle Raising Puppies and Kittens

Ideally, puppies and kittens should stay with their mother and littermates until they are at least eight weeks of age.  This gives them the time needed to learn valuable lessons about how to be a well-socialized member of a group.

Unfortunately, circumstances do not always cooperate.  Puppies and kittens may be orphaned or otherwise separated from their mothers at a very young age.  In some cases, individuals can be introduced into another litter, and assuming that their new mother accepts them, they can continue almost as if nothing happened.  It is more common, however, for people to have to intervene.

Bottle raising puppies and kittens is not difficult, but it does take dedication and a lot of time.  Orphaned youngsters generally need to be fed by bottle until they are about four weeks old.  To do this properly, purchase several kitten or puppy nursing bottles as well as puppy or kitten milk replacer and plan to feed them every two to three hours from the time you wake until you go to sleep.  If they eat this frequently during the day, overnight feedings should not be necessary.

Young puppies and kittens also need stimulation in order to urinate and defecate.  Do this after each feeding by wiping their urogenital region and anus several times with a warm washcloth.  Then use the washcloth clean them up well.

Once they begin chewing on the nipple of the bottle (usually around 3-4 weeks of age), you can start offering pâté-style kitten food mixed with a little milk replacer.  Once they are eating well and drinking water from a bowl, you can discontinue bottle feeding.  Keep track of the animal’s weight to make sure they are thriving.  Any weight loss should immediately be reported to your veterinarian.

The Top 10 Mistakes Pet Owners Make

  1. Buying a Pet on a Whim:  Potential pet owners should take their time researching what kind of pet and which breed works best for their lifestyle. Attributes to consider are size, activity level, age, grooming needs and more. A good match is important to avoid owner frustration and to keep more animals from ending up in shelters.
  2. Not Opting for Obedience Training:  Saving some dough by skipping training classes may not be worth the headaches over chewed up furniture or inappropriate barking. Not very many of us are blessed with the natural knowhow to properly train a dog, so some professional advice is probably worth the investment.
  3. Not Sticking to the Rules: You can’t blame a puppy for being confused if one day he is allowed to sit on the couch and the next he is being yelled at for it! It’s best to set boundaries right away and stick to them.
  4. Handing out too Many Treats: Make Fido work for his goodies. The occasional yummy snack is okay, but most of the time, treats should represent a reward for good behavior.  
  5. Neglecting to Socialize Fido: Socialization at a young age is key to avoiding behavior issues. Dogs should be exposed to people, other dogs, and the outside world in general. Exposure to different situations from an early age helps alleviate anxiety and deters aggressive behavior.
  6. Skimping on Exercise: Canine and feline obesity is becoming an epidemic in this country, don’t let your lovable companion become a statistic. Overweight dogs and cats are susceptible to more health problems than pets who maintain a healthy weight. In order to have as many healthy years with your pet as possible and maybe avoid some costly vet bills, it’s best keep your pet active.
  7. Not Providing Enough Mental Stimulation: A bored pet can mean a destructive pet. Make sure your cat or dog is provided with a variety of toys. For kitty, you can even place a bird feeder outside the window to keep her alert while watching the birds.
  8. Not Puppy-Proofing your Home: This goes for cats too. Before bringing a new furry friend home, always remove dangerous household items from reach. Also make sure they have easy access to necessities, a cat that can’t get to her litter box will learn to just use the carpet.
  9. Too Much Alone Time: Too much time spent alone can cause separation anxiety and destructive behavior for some dogs. For dogs in homes where too much alone time is a daily occurrence, hiring a dog walker or considering doggy daycare might be a good option.
  10. Relying on Punishment: Physical punishment is inhumane and also ineffective, your pet will simply learn to fear you instead of learning appropriate behavior.  Yelling should only be used if your pet is caught in the act, in which case a firm “no” may help deter future incidents. The emphasis should be on training to prevent bad behavior, not on punishment after the fact.

Human Meds Pose Serious Danger for Pets

For the third year in a row, human medications have topped the ASPCA’s Top Ten Toxins list. Common household meds like ibuprofen and decongestants pose a big risk when ingested by family pets.

OTC and prescription medications can cause kidney damage, ulcers, seizures, and even death. To avoid this potentially tragic situation, it’s best to keep ALL medications safely out of reach from four legged family members. Pet poisoning symptoms include lethargy, vomiting, elevated body temperature, seizures, depression, and refusal to eat food. If you think your pet has ingested a human medication, immediately contact an emergency veterinarian or call the Animal Poison Control Center’s hotline at 888.426.4435.

For a list of medications that are the most common pet poisoning culprits, click here.

Puppy Couture or Necessity: Does your Dog Really Need that Sweater?

Some might think that putting clothes on your pet is a little on the extravagant side, but many veterinarians do recommend that certain types of dogs bundle up during the winter months. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, a dog’s size and ability to keep in body heat affect body temperature- making some dogs more at risk for hypothermia than others. For this reason, a sweater is sometimes recommended to help sustain a healthy body temperature.

A dog’s normal body temperature is about 101 degrees. If that temperature drops five or six degrees, a dog can experience low blood pressure and kidney damage. In extreme cases, a drop in temperature can decrease the blood flow to vital organs and lead to hypothermia.

Dogs most at risk are small, short-haired, and have a low activity level. Some breeds at risk are the Chihuahua, Shih Tzu, Dachshund, Miniature Pincher, and Bichon Frise. Owners with senior or ailing dogs of any breed or size should also take caution in climates with cold weather.

So if your dog falls into one of these categories or just doesn’t seem to be a fan of chilly temperatures, don’t hesitate to invest in that doggy sweater for winter walks.

Secondhand Smoke Poses Danger for Pets

Everyone knows that smoking cigarettes is bad for your health, but this hard-to-kick habit may also be hazardous to the health of your furry best friend.  Pets with owners that smoke are more likely to develop cancer, allergies, and other illnesses. So if your new year’s resolution was to ditch the habit, the health of your loyal companion is one more reason to stick to it.

Pets are especially vulnerable to cigarettes because they not only inhale secondhand smoke, but they’re also at risk for ingesting the tobacco residue that collects in their fur. Since cats frequently groom themselves, their risk for developing oral cancer is high. Cats exposed to secondhand smoke are also twice as likely to develop feline lymphoma, which is oftentimes fatal.

Dogs that are frequently in the vicinity of cigarette smoke are at risk for lung, nasal, and sinus cancers. Another danger for curious puppies is the ingestion of cigarette butts, which can lead to a fatal case of nicotine poisoning.

Less life threatening (yet still very serious) conditions that your pet can develop from secondhand smoke include respiratory infections, eye irritation, lung inflammation, and asthma. For the wellbeing of both you and your pet, it’s best to ditch the cigarettes and aim for healthier habits.