Lately I have been frequently asked about the care for newborn animals.
Animals have very strong instincts when it comes to caring for their newborn off-springs.
However, both mother and babies need nurturing environment in order to thrive.
Unfortunately, in some cases the mother either rejects the babies or dead, so the care burden falls entirely on the pet owner.
Here is a very brief overview of the basic care for puppies and kittens.
The most common reasons for newborn puppies/kittens loss are low body temperature and lack of energy.
Newborns are not able to regulate their body temperature.
It is important to make sure the house temperature is warm enough, and that the area that the mother and litter are placed at is well padded, without exposure to the bare floor.
Most mothers do all the work of taking care of the off springs themselves.
Rarely the mother might ignore one or more of her off-springs.
If that is the case and you notice that one or more of the babies are not being fed properly, you should encourage the baby to feed from the mother by placing it close to the nipple.
If the natural nursing just isn’t working, you can find puppies and kittens milk replacement formulas at veterinarian clinics.
The easiest way to feed the babies is with a special bottle meant for puppies/kittens.
It is important to tip the bottle in an angle that will prevent air gulping. When you feed, let the baby suck the milk from the bottle on its own.
Do not squeeze the milk into it’s mouth which might lead to milk aspiration into the lungs.
Puppies and kittens are eating very frequently, newborns should be fed approximately every twohours.
Puppies and kittens are dependent on their mother on urination and defecation.
The mother licks the back area which stimulated urination and defecation.
In the absence of the mother, you should use a cotton ball, wet it with lukewarm water and rub the baby’s back area to mimic the mother’s action.
When the baby reaches three weeks of age, they’re normally able to function on their own.
When the babies are older and are able to control the elimination on their own, it’s time for house training.
Cats are easy in this area—all you need is a litter box. You should place the kitten in the litter box and hold it’s front paws while mimicking the motion of digging in the litter.
Usually one time is enough and the kitten will know where to go when it’s time to go.
With dogs the situation is more complicated
House training for puppies is a diverse subject that probably deserves an article on its own.
I strongly suggest consulting with a trainer about how to generally train your dog to follow basic orders and get house trained.
Puppies and kittens are ready to be weaned and separated from their mother at the age of eight weeks.
Puppies are recommended to receive a series of three vaccines, three to four weeks apart.
The optimal timing for the first vaccine is eight weeks of age.
Kittens are receiving a series of two vaccines, four weeks apart.
Similarly to puppies, the optimal timing for the first vaccine is eight weeks of age.
Rabies vaccine can be given to puppies and kittens older than 12 weeks of age.
Puppies and kittens are very prone to worm infestation, hence they should be dewormed more often than adults.
The deworming protocols differ between the different products used.
Your veterinarian will instruct you what is the protocol recommended to your pet.
Similarly to raising human babies, raising puppies and kittens is very intense and might get confusing and stressful.
Please seek more information about this important topic with your pet’s veterinarian.
Moshe Oz operates the Rose Valley Veterinary Hospital at 2476 Westlake Rd. in West Kelowna.