As a new pet owner, having a furry addition to your family can be daunting. Here are some basic advice to help you deal with the new responsibility.
Your pet may be susceptible to a variety of parasites such as fleas, ticks, mites and lice. They can cause skin problems such as itchy skin, redness, fur loss, and can also transmit serious diseases such as tick fever. Most of these parasites are spread by contact with infested animals, or when your pet goes outdoors. You can protect your pet from these parasites by regular anti-parasitic treatment with products such as Revolution and Frontline. It is best, however, to visit a vet for a diagnosis of skin parasites, and for advice on treatment.
Different Life Stages of Your Pet
Newly-born puppies and kittens are fragile, and require close attention and meticulous care. They are prone to hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) and hypothermia (low body temperature), and should nurse approximately every 2-3 hours, or be fed an appropriate diet (such as puppy/kitten milk replacement formula) regularly, and kept warm at all times.
Puppies and kittens are usually interactive and playful. It is important to puppy- or kitten-proof your house to prevent them from getting into any accidents because of their curious nature. For example, windows of high-rise apartments should be kept closed, electrical cables should be hidden and inaccessible, and potential toxins such as detergent, rubbish and insectides should be kept out of reach.
In addition, they should be fed a diet specially formulated for puppies and kittens, to ensure proper nutrition for growth and development. Routine healthcare practices such as vaccinations, deworming and parasite prevention should also be observed. Behavioural training and socialization with people and other animals are essential at this age, to ensure the formation of a healthy human-pet bond, easy handling and reduce the risks of behavioural problems in future. However, it is important that puppies and kittens start to socialize with other animals only after their vaccination courses are complete.
Puppies and kittens continue growing till about 1 year of age, and should not be losing weight during this time.
Your pet reaches sexual maturity at about 4-6 months of age, although for some individuals, this happens at a later time and can take up to 2 years.
Female animals will start to go on heat (similar to the menstrual period in people). Female dogs usually come into heat twice a year, and each heat lasts an average of 21 days. You may observe bloody discharge appearing at the vulva of your female pet in the first 2 weeks of the heat, and during the heat, she may attract the attention of male dogs nearby. Female cats come into heat every 2-3 weeks for several months a year, and during this time, they may be exceptionally affectionate, rub themselves on items, roll on the floor, vocalize loudly, assume a “praying” position (head and front legs down, rear end raised), and spray on furniture.
Male animals may start becoming more aggressive, spray urine or mark items with their urine, exhibit humping behavior, show interest in female dogs, and may try to escape the house to go outdoors.
This period extends from 1-2 years of age, up till about 8 years for a large-breed dog, 10 years for a small breed dog or a cat.
Adult animals should be transitioned to an adult diet from puppy/kitten food, which reduces problems such as obesity, diabetes and osteoarthritis. Dogs and cats should also be regularly exercised, by walking or by playing with toys.
During this stage, it is good to bring them for routine health checks in addition to the usual preventative treatments as they may start developing diseases or health problems.
The average length of pregnancy, or gestation, is 63 days in dogs and cats, but can vary with individual animals. During this period of time, it is acceptable to maintain them on their regular diet, although they may require larger amounts of food during the later stages of pregnancy as the foetuses grow and their mammary glands develop. It is important, however, not to let them become overweight during this time as this may give rise to more complications during birth. Close to their due date, it is good to provide them with a dim and quiet corner where they can feel safe, and which is covered with soft towels or pillows for them to feel comfortable to give birth on.
Dogs and cats are generally termed as geriatric animals when they reach about 8-10 years of age. In this period of time, many of them are mellowed in their behaviour, and are less active than before. It is useful to switch them to a diet formulated for geriatric animals, as their dietary requirements are different from when they were energetic adult animals.
Routine health checks are essential to pick up on diseases early on, as well as to monitor the progression and control of any health problems they may have. In addition to these, their regular preventatives such as vaccinations and deworming should be continued.
Non Food Items
Non Food Items
* The above list is by no means exhaustive. Please contact your veterinarian for more details.