Who Got a New Puppy or Kitten for Christmas? 😊
Bringing a new puppy or kitten into your home is a magical time. So much bonding, training, and playing is happening at all times. But it’s also a time where the decisions you make can set the stage for the rest of your new pet’s life. Here are my recommendations to start out on the right foot!
Examination & Vaccination
Puppies and kittens should be examined by your veterinarian promptly to screen them for congenital issues such as heart murmurs and hard palate defects. Hopefully, your new pet passes this test with flying colors! This is also a good time for your vet to recommend a diet for your new family member and to set up a vaccine schedule. Most puppies and kittens should be vaccinated every 3-4 weeks until after 16 weeks of age to prevent serious diseases.
Watch out for baby teeth!
Puppies and kittens initially develop baby teeth (called “deciduous” teeth). Around 3 months of age, the adult teeth (permanent teeth) begin to erupt and the baby teeth should fall out. Sometimes the adult teeth are delayed in erupting and treatment is required. Sometimes there is no adult tooth present to help the baby tooth come out and so it remains but is at risk of resorption (fusing with the bone) or fracturing. And sometimes the adult tooth comes in, but the baby tooth doesn’t fall out leading to two teeth trying to occupy the same space. This puts the adult tooth at risk and can throw off the patient’s normal “bite” causing trauma to other areas of the mouth as well. Magnolia Animal Dentistry can help you make the best plan for addressing these concerns- because many times it requires careful surgical extraction of the baby tooth!
Schedule the spay or neuter
I’ll stick with the AVMA’s recommendations on this one 😊 : “Consult your veterinarian about the most appropriate time to spay or neuter your pet based upon his/her breed, age, and physical condition. Keep in mind that, contrary to popular belief, it may NOT be best to wait until your female dog or cat has gone through her first heat cycle.” (Typical timelines are between 4 and 6 months of age…)
Start tooth brushing!
The gold standard of oral home care is tooth brushing! It’s much easier to teach your pet to tolerate this regimen if you get them used to it at a young age. Bristles are more effective than plastic finger brushes, and make sure you use pet-safe toothpaste. Daily tooth brushing is recommended to prevent tartar and plaque build-up and dental disease!
Schedule the first dental cleaning
We recommend you start your new pet on an annual dental cleaning schedule beginning around 1 year of age. Sometimes larger breeds can start around 2 years of age. I’ve seen small breeds with multiple extractions recommended at 2 years old- it’s so important to start early! The best way to prevent dental disease and to reduce the risk of future extractions is with oral home care and annual dental cleanings before the disease starts!