ABC-Animal - Adoption Chronicle

Get Off to a Good Start When You Adopt a Pet !

If you want to adopt a new pet - a puppy or a kitten, for example - make sure it gets off to a good start in life by following a few basic rules.

Mothers and Babies
The mother eats calorie-rich foods, feeds her young with her milk, and educates them. It is therefore best for the baby to spend at least 8 weeks (2 months) with its mother, brothers and sisters. Playing with its family is also important for psychological development.

At 6 to 8 weeks, the animal is weaned and it stops drinking maternal milk and begins to eat solid puppy or kitten food. Since its body no longer benefits from the protective antibodies contained in its mother’s milk, it’s time to think of vaccines. At this age, veterinarians recommend 2 to 4 vaccine sessions according to age, breed, and living conditions. After these sessions are completed, the vet will suggest a personalized vaccination program for the rest of your pet’s life.

Start your pet’s education right away. Of course, the priority is cleanliness, but from a very young age, get your pet used to
* general grooming: brushing its fur, nail cutting, tooth brushing, removing fur from its ears if needed;
* good eating habits: give your pet adapted food served in its bowl…not on your plate;
* respect for its new family: respect for the adults, but especially for the children in the household;
* obedience: as needed, take your pet to obedience classes, a therapy in itself!

Growth and Sterilization
* Around the age of 4 months, your pet will start to loose its baby teeth, which will be replaced by permanent or adult teeth.
* Between 6 and 8 months, your pet will reach sexual maturity. Females have their first episodes of heat and males become interested in females.
* Plan on spaying your pet (castration or ovariohysterectomy) between the ages of 4 and 6 months, well before it reaches sexual maturity.
* Replace the puppy or kitten food with adult pet food between the ages of 6 and 12 months, depending on the breed and activity level.

Summary of the First Year
The first year of your animal’s life is very important…On average it is the equivalent of the first 20 years of a human life! It may be a little demanding financially because of the series of vaccines, sterilization and puppy or kitten food…but rest assured that if your pet gets off to a good start, you’ll enjoy many wonderful years together!

Alain Aspirault, D.V.M.
Ancienne-Lorette Vet Clinic
Québec, Canada