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Ask an Expert: Abnormal Dog Nails

Q: My dog has been losing nails and some nails are bent out of shape. Why could his nails be abnormal?

A: Dogs that have an active lifestyle or dogs walked on pavement generally wear their nails short.

Nails that are prone to fall easily or appear abnormal in shape and size are signs of medical problems in dogs. The most common condition causing misshapen or broken nails is called Lupoid onychodystrophy. This condition may be due to multiple underlying causes and is easily treated using a combination of medication, dietary management, and supplements.

Other common causes for such symptoms include nail bed infections due to bacteria or fungus.

Happy ‘Doggieween’: Halloween Treats for Dogs Do’s and Don’ts

Halloween can be fun for dogs too, if they’ll let you dress them up. But if they get into the “human” treats, it can mean an emergency trip to the vet. There are treats you can give your pooch, but be wary of the ingredients. Any kind of human Halloween treat, candy, etc. are forbidden for dogs! Lollipop sticks can get stuck in their throat and candy wrappers can cause obstructions.

This is a good time to use that obedience training. Using the command “Leave it,” if you spot your pup sniffing around; this command can be especially helpful if any candy or chocolate lands on the floor. If you see your dog ingest something they shouldn’t have, call your vet or poison control immediately!

Halloween Treat Don’ts

Carefully read the ingredients in all treats you plan on giving to your dog. Sugary, high-fat candy can lead to pancreatitis, and symptoms may not show for about 2-4 days. You may not know it, but raisins and grapes are toxic to dogs too.

The artificial sweetener, xylitol, that is in a lot of “sugar-free” treats can cause sudden drop in blood sugar, subsequent loss of coordination, and seizures if ingested by your dog. Some treats contain white chocolate, which is still chocolate and a big no-no for dogs. Theobromine is the main ingredient in chocolate, which is harmless to humans but toxic to dogs.

Signs of Chocolate Poisoning:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rapid breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Seizures

Should you see any of these signs in your pup take them to your vet straightaway!

Halloween Treat Do’s

All treats for your dog should be only given for training purposes or on special occasions. Don’t let treats replace their meals and don’t let your dog overindulge on the good treats. If your dog has allergies or is on a special hypoallergenic diet, talk to your vet about what you can give them for treat options.

Don’t forget, your dog can have treats that are beneficial to their health. Dogs can get bad breath, plaque, tartar formation, and tooth decay. You can give them dental treats that cleans their teeth, freshens their breath, and controls plaque and tartar.

Don’t forget their coat and skin either! There are treats you can give your pooch that contain Omega-3 fatty-acids, which are good for their skin and coat health.

For pups who prefer really crunchy treats, feel free to give them bite-sized pieces of raw carrots! There are other certain fruits and vegetables you can give your dog too.

Halloween Treat Ideas for Dogs

Not only can you find treats in the store to buy for your pooch, but you can also find many recipes to make homemade dog treats, including online. It can be fun to make treats from scratch and there are some that you can enjoy eating too along with your pooch.

Pumpkin is an okay treat for dogs, but only in small portions. Unless your pup is allergic (which is unlikely, as pumpkin is not a common allergen), baked pumpkin makes a good treat idea. Peanut butter is also a tasty option (again, be sure it’s only given to your dog in small amounts). There are plenty of peanut butter-flavoured treats you can find in the store!

Speaking of treats, it may be handy to keep a bag of dog treats handy during this time of the year. That way, your pup will not miss out on the festivities and they receive treats that are appropriate and safe.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Clinic and a clickable link back to this page.

Animal Health Week

Veterinarians and animal wellness advocates throughout Canada celebrated the Animal Health Week during September 28 to October 4, 2014.* This is a yearly appreciation of the lovely and varied animal species we veterinary professionals work with – the perfect profession for animal lovers!

This is a time we celebrate popular companion pets like dogs and cats as well as the larger species like cattle and horses; and the more “exotic” ones like rabbits and reptiles. The veterinary profession is responsible for the care of all animal species after all. The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) chose this opportunity to highlight the importance of responsible antimicrobial use by one and all during this years’ celebration, as not all illnesses require antibiotic use.

Alongside other veterinarians in the Lower Mainland, the veterinary care team at our clinic, Hasting Veterinary Hospital, celebrated the importance of pet care with some very enthusiastic and knowledgeable pet parents on October 4th. The event was held in the Burnaby Heights area and included educational seminars on important pet health topics.

The event was named “Healing is a team effort” in appreciation of educated pet parents being a vital part of responsible pet ownership. This was just one of many efforts by veterinarians across Canada to help further improve our nations’ top notch, compassionate care for animals, large and small. These events would not be possible without the involvement of eager, nurturing pet parents.

If you are an animal lover and missed this year’s celebrations, be sure to remember and be a part of the celebration next year – during October 4-10, 2015.* You may be able to contribute by getting involved in helping organize a pet-health celebration event with a veterinary team or an animal care group; or by attending a pet health educational event.

By – Dr. Jangi Bajwa,
Veterinarian at Hastings Veterinary Hospital, Burnaby.

*This was originally published in Burnaby Now in their October 2014 issue

5 Dog Food Myths that Need to be Busted, Pronto

Have you ever given your dog food that you think may be safe for them, only to find out it isn’t? Contrary to popular belief, not everything you feed dogs is good for them, and some things you think are terrible for them may not actually be so. These five dog food myths are common enough, but they need to be busted, pronto, for the sake of keeping your pooch happy, healthy, and safe. 

Beware the Common Myths

“Myths” in this case are exactly what the word implies: untrue stories founded on misconceptions about dogs, their food, and the ways in which various ingredients can affect them.

We love our pets and want to feed them food that will help them grow and live long and happy lives, but there are a lot of conflicting stories about what constitutes a good diet for dogs. Here are the most common issues.

Myth #1 – It’s Okay for Dogs to Free-Feed During the Day

“Free-feeding” is the term used for leaving your dog’s food out during the day for them to casually graze on, rather than giving them food on a schedule. This may seem convenient and easy if you have to leave for work for the day or go to school, but it may not be as convenient to your dog’s overall health.

A dog that free-feeds their food is more than likely to become overweight, leading to all sorts of long-term problems. It also can end up being unsanitary—especially if you tend to feed your dog outside. Unwanted critters such as rodents, bugs, and even stray cats or dogs may smell your pup’s food and come to your home to eat it.

It’s best to feed your dog with the portioned amount they need and on a schedule. A vet can recommend you a schedule and the portions needed based on your pup’s current lifestyle, breed, size, and exercise routine.

Myth #2 – Chocolate is Okay to Give to Dogs

This one’s a very harmful myth and one that should not be believed for a second! Chocolate is actually one of the worst things you can give to a dog. Chocolate contains the ingredients xylitol and theobromine, which are harmless to humans but highly toxic to dogs. Whether it’s around Easter, Halloween, or any other major holiday involving chocolate, always keep it out of their reach.

If at any point you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate, bring them to a veterinarian—even if obvious symptoms haven’t shown up.

Myth #3 – Bones are Okay for Dogs

Yes, dogs love to chew on bones, but it depends on both the bone and your dog. Here’s the general rule: cooked bones, whether they’re from pork, chicken, beef, or other animals, are more dangerous than raw ones because cooking makes them brittle and more likely to break or shred.

Yes, you can buy raw marrowbones from butchers and pet stores and they will be safer, but bones carry no guarantees and might break, even if they’re not too small or not too big and are cooked or raw. More importantly, they can cause your enthusiastic bone-crunching pet to break a tooth or, worst-case scenario, cause a gastrointestinal blockage that would require immediate veterinary attention.

Bones may not harm your pup, but why take a chance? Give him or her something else to chew, such as carrots or chew toys.

Myth #4 – Grains are Bad for Dogs

Actually, grains such as wheat, corn, soy, barley, and rice are not harmful to dogs. They are harmful, however, if your dog has a diagnosed wheat allergy or a food allergy that is triggered by grains. If your dog is not intolerant to wheat, however, then it’s perfectly fine to give your dog food containing other grains. They should not be the only part of your dog’s diet—it’s best that they’re combined with protein, such as chicken.

Myth #5 – Pork is Bad for Dogs

This is only slightly true. Uncooked or raw pork is most definitely bad for dogs—but once it’s cooked thoroughly (minus any rubs or spices), it’s actually as harmless as cooked chicken, beef, or any other meats. Just be sure to trim any additional fat off of the piece of pork you want to feed your dog, and portions must be appropriate for their size. While straight-up pork from loins, chops, etc. is fine, what’s not fine is ham or bacon—both are made of pork, but they are processed and contain higher fat and salt content as well as ingredients that could harm your dog.

The best way to feed your dog is by keeping their needs in mind while choosing dog food, which means their diet will change over time. After all, what is suitable for a puppy (up to one year) differs for an adult dog (one to seven years or so) and a senior dog (seven and up). You may have to alter their diet if he or she develops health problems such as diabetes, obesity, or food allergies.

Your veterinarian will guide you through the mysteries of finding the best dog food for your pup, and can help debunk any other myths you may encounter—and there is bound to be others!

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to the Hastings Veterinary Clinic and a clickable link back to this page.

Pet Boarding vs. a Pet Sitter—Which is Better for my Pet?

Have you ever felt guilty for leaving your cat or dog at home when you have to travel? Whether it’s for an overnight trip or lengthy trips for business or pleasure, we’re sure you’ve had to struggle with deciding whether to choose pet boarding versus a pet sitter to care for your fur baby.

For those who have to make this decision for the first time, it is okay to feel anxious. To help lessen the stress for you, we recommend you consider the advantages and disadvantages of the kinds of care available before deciding.

The Cost of Pet Care Varies Widely

Your cat or dog can be boarded at a kennel or a veterinary hospital or clinic that offers boarding care for pets, or can be cared for by a pet sitter. The prices are scaled to the type of environment, the amount of individual care offered, and any add-ons that you choose. 

  • Veterinarian Facility – A veterinary boarding facility can provide a scrupulously clean and safe environment, and healthy animal companions for your pet who will all have their vaccinations up-to-date. Pets are professionally monitored for signs of illness or problems. If your cat or dog requires health care, it will be provided.
  • Kennel – A kennel can also provide very suitable boarding care and prices vary. Do your homework and be sure to have a thorough understanding of the type of individual and group care offered and the safety measures you can expect.
  • Pet Sitter – The least expensive care is available from a pet sitter, with the sitter taking your kitty or pooch to his or her home for the duration, or moving into your home, or simply making daily visits for feeding, playtime, and walks. The costs vary depending on which services you need.

Hiring a Pet Sitter Has a Number of Advantages

You can arrange for a pet sitter to visit your home a couple of times a day to feed your pet, take them out on walks (if they’re a dog), bring in the mail, and give your home the appearance of being occupied.

Cats, in particular, are usually happier in their own homes and may get stressed out when boarded. However, even an independent cat can become troubled if left entirely on their own and usually needs human contact, even if it’s just a daily visit by a pet sitter for feeding and playtime.

If you have a sitter move into your home, you have the added expense of providing meals, but it is still less expensive than, say, a pet hotel. Also, most pets are happier in their familiar surroundings.

You can hire a trusted family member or neighbour as a sitter, but if that doesn’t work, hire a professional. Check their references and make sure the pet sitter is insured and bonded.

Pet Boarding is the Most Popular Choice

Pet boarding is a good idea for cats and dogs who are more adaptable to change and will enjoy the companionship of others. However, if your pet isn’t very open in terms of being around people and other animals, or exposed to new experiences, or is old and less sociable than he or she was, they will probably be happier with a sitter.

Be sure and check out the choices of veterinary facility accommodations. Interview the caregivers, tour the facilities, and ask for references. There may be such advantages as supervised cage-free running around and lots of playtime with other animals.

You may find that your cat or dog loves the boarding experience when he or she is young but not so much when they age. However, if they are older and troubled by arthritis or other conditions, you may have more peace of mind and be happy to be able to board them in a veterinary facility with trained medical people watching over them.

When deciding who will look after your kitty or pooch, factor in their age, personality, and physical limitations. Interview caregivers, do background checks, give complete instructions, and have a backup plan for emergencies. Leave the family’s vet clinic contact info with whoever is caring for your pet, in case of an emergency. If you do your research and set high standards, you will enjoy peace of mind knowing that your fur baby has the love and attention they need, no matter what your decision.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to the Hastings Veterinary Clinic and a clickable link back to this page.

Pet Care Tips to Keep Them Safe from Dangerous Tick Bites

Finding a tick anywhere on your pet makes for a bad day! Knowing how to keep your pet tick-free is great preventative pet care in that it keeps everyone safe from dangerous diseases transmitted by tick bites. You should also know what to do if your efforts fail and you find a tick attached to your pet’s skin.

It is important to use the right safeguards, inspect your pet for ticks after he or she has been outdoors, and consult your veterinarian right away if one of these nasty little brutes latches on to them.

Tick Bites Can Cause Your Pet Serious Harm

Ticks are parasites that can be found in city parks, forest and meadow areas, and your own backyard. Many pet owners don’t take tick warnings seriously enough and rely on simple tick and flea collars to keep their pets safe, only to have their beloved pets infected with terrible diseases carried by a variety of ticks.

Lyme disease, for example, is just as debilitating for pets as it is for people, and is becoming more and more widespread in BC. Other parasitic diseases, such as anaplasmosis, can be terrible, too, and the symptoms are often difficult to diagnose.

Use good preventative measures to keep your pet safe, and see that your lawns, bushes, and trees are trimmed to reduce the tick population in your yard. Keeping your dog or cat indoors during the height of the tick season can help, and be sure and check your pets carefully for ticks after outdoor exercise or playtime.

A Veterinarian is the Best Person to Remove a Tick

You can find instructions for removing ticks from pets, but nothing quite prepares you for the dangers of attempting this job yourself:

  • It’s difficult to get your pet to remain motionless—which they must be—while you do the job.
  • If you leave any part of the tick behind, you must take your pet to a veterinarian to dig it out.
  • Gloves must be worn for your own safety.
  • If the insect is twisted or squeezed while being removed, reaction to the embedded tick parts can cause discomfort and infection.

Play it safe and take your pet to a veterinarian for help.

There are a Variety of Preventative Measures to Use against Ticks

Work with your veterinarian to come up with the best kind of pet care plan to protect your little friend. Pets that live outside or are used to running free over large territories or that you take with you on camping trips in the wilds are more at risk from tick bites than homebodies. However, even a pet that is indoors most of the time can pick up a tick bite almost anywhere outside.

Here are some of the Standard Safeguards:

  1. Topical medication – Such products work very well but you must choose carefully and follow all directions faithfully. Many products such as Advantix and Revolution are available through veterinarians and pet stores; it is best to use a veterinary approved product. Ask your veterinarian for advice and assistance with these products as they vary in the spectrum of the ticks they cover. Your vet can help you determine what product is best suited to your pet based on their size, lifestyle, and so on.
  2. Oral medication – These products are safe and effective protection against ticks and fleas, and should be administered by your veterinarian. These are almost as effective as topical medication and are very useful for dogs who love water! Whether they are to be applied once a month depends on the product; most can be applied once a month such as Simparica and Nexgard, but there is a once-every-3-months product available called Bravecto. Again, consult your veterinarian on which oral products would best suit your pet.
  3. Tick shampoos – Medicated ingredients in a tick shampoo will kill ticks, but this is not the best plan for either your cat or dog because their effectiveness doesn’t last very long. The aforementioned products (topical and oral) are much better and safer preventative products.

Keep your pet tick-free and safe with proven tick-bite preventative measures. Check them after they’ve been outdoor during the height of tick season and, if your pet has the misfortune to be bitten in spite of your efforts, get professional help to remove the horrible little disease-carrying pest.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to the Hastings Veterinary Clinic and a clickable link back to this page.

Why Veterinary Professionals Do What They Do!

What makes veterinary professionals take up pet care as a profession? Undoubtedly it is our passion and will to help animals in their time of need. The biggest benefit of this desire lends to the fact that compassion is not required to be taught during the training of a veterinary professional.

The beauty of pet care also derives from the patient’s family being an extension of the veterinary team. In times of illness, aging, and even in good health, the family is essentially the at-home nursing staff of the veterinary community. Our pets are adorably expressive about a lot of things (ask any pet parent and hear their pets’ unique ability to express themselves), but when it comes to sharing what they ate off the floor, which alley cat may have fought with them, feeling a tooth ache, or nausea, the information is not always as forthcoming (nor as endearing!).

Signs of chronic life affecting conditions such as allergies, gastric problems, arthritis, diminished eyesight & hearing, anxiety, and obesity are often subtle to start with. Over time, these signs slowly progress and without keen observation and routine monitoring of well-being, such symptoms can be easily missed. Do you know what the general symptoms associated with such illness might be?

There is usually a big range of nonspecific signs associated with chronic conditions such as arthritic pain, anxiety, allergies, etc. As an example, when an older pet is pacing and vocalizing for no apparent reason; this may be due to a range of possibilities including spinal pain, loss of sensory functions (eyesight, hearing, etc.), all due to anxiety related to changes in the environment, or even an old age illness.

No pet owner or veterinarian can simply hear the description of the symptoms and make a diagnosis. To best help a pet with medical concerns and to diagnose illness early, the combination of a close bond between the pet and parent, clear communication between the parent and veterinary team, and a thorough evaluation of health as well as compassion towards the implications of potential illness are essential.

While compassion is second nature to veterinary professionals (think veterinarians, vet technicians, office assistants, kennel attendants etc.), it is best used while helping nurture improved pet parenting through loving pet owners. This is why the veterinary community is advising increased vet visits. Advertising campaigns on the role of nutrition, exercise, and monitoring pet health, as well as special events at vet clinics, are all geared towards improved pet parent education. After all, by bringing a pet into their family, pet owners are signing up to be an extension of the pet healthcare system.

As the Canadian Nurses Association likes to say, “Health begins at home!”

By – Dr. Jangi Bajwa,
Veterinary Dermatologist & Practice Owner
Hastings Veterinary Hospital, Burnaby.
Twitter @BajwaJangi

Eye Care for Pets: Our Top Tips

Your pets’ eyes are one of the more sensitive organs, making eye care an essential part of pet care. Some awareness and monitoring goes a long way to ensure proper eye care and monitoring by pet parents. If there is any eye related discomfort, pets will typically rub their faces against carpet or furniture. They may even try to scratch/soothe themselves with their paws. This can be unsafe as the nails can traumatize the eyes or other facial structures. Like many other things, your pet depends on you to provide this important part of his or her well-being.

Pet parents should perform a weekly health maintenance check up on their pets (more frequently for puppies and kittens) – during the routine evaluations, look for any redness or swelling in or around the eyes. If your pet squints or is abnormally sensitive, it may be an early indicator of a potential problem. If you notice green or yellow mucus discharge in excessive amounts, this would indicate towards an eye infection. Dogs and cats will get some “sleep” (normal physiological eye discharge) in their eyes routinely. Regularly checking the eyes will help you differentiate between what is normal and abnormal for your pet. Healthy eyes of dogs and cats are moist and clear.

Dogs with long hair-coats can be prone to eye infections due to the hair irritating the cornea. Professional groomers are good at identifying the appropriate length of facial hair for dogs and their advice should be sought, if you cut your pets hair at home. Bathing can also lead to eye irritation if the shampoo comes in contact with the eyes. It is best to do wipe downs of the face carefully rather than splashing water or shampoo on the face when bathing pets. This should help prevent irritation to sensitive parts of the face including the eyes, nose and ears.

Many dogs can get brownish stains below the inside corner of the eyes, especially the light-coloured breeds. There are several causes of the overflow of tears. Miniature dog breeds and Persian cats often have more prominent eyes. This stretches the eyelid and may cut off the drainage system. This is the most common cause and there is little we can do to correct it. Some animals are born with an abnormal drainage system that may or may not be surgically correctable. Sometimes, the eyelids turn inward and block the drainage. This is also surgically correctable. It is important to remember that while most of the staining due to tears is a cosmetic problem, it can get quite unsightly if not cared for.

Your veterinarian should be able to advice you on appropriate treatments if the tear staining is considered due to other potential causes such as allergies, eyelid anatomy, or other irritation to the eyes. Annual health checkups by your veterinary team will ensure that more subtle changes to your pets’ eyes do not go unnoticed.

By – Dr. Jangi Bajwa,
Veterinarian at Hastings Veterinary Hospital, Burnaby.

Pain Control in Pets: Important Then, Important Now

It has been known for centuries that pain affects a human’s quality of life greatly. This fact holds true not only for acute pain from injuries to muscle, ligament, and orthopedic pain from fractures.  Chronic (or long lasting) pain from spinal disease, arthritis, kidney stones, etc. can cause a much greater degree of distress and affect quality of life negatively.

Surprisingly, the importance of pain has only been given due importance only in the past few decades. Thankfully, during recent times, the importance of pain alleviation in pets’ healing process has become well recognized (duh!). This has led to further research on the existence of pain in pets and how best to alleviate it.

Currently many options exist for treating pain in the furry critters, while more options are being explored. Pets can tolerate and receive benefit from some of the drugs humans are given as well. This is not without the potential for adverse effects, some of which may not be the same in our pets. For example, cats are much more susceptible to the adverse effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories than humans and dogs would be.

Using a multi-modal approach to fight pain compensates for such potential for problems while managing pain in companion animals. Additional options include appropriate nutrition, supplements (such as sources of omega 3 oils, glucosamine, etc.), physiotherapy, laser therapy in certain situations, and most importantly treatment for the underlying cause of pain.

Likely indicators of pain in pets are numerous, including change in behavior, stiffness, decreased appetite, vocalization, change in facial expression, change in grooming habits, or posture while sleeping to name a few. Some of these changes can develop over time and may often be regarded as an aging change. Arthritis is the most common source of pain in pets and can go untreated for long periods in senior pets. Again, it is very manageable and may not even need painkillers if managed early.

Even though pain control for pets has come late to the party, it is every bit as important in pets as it is for us.

By – Dr. Jangi Bajwa,
Veterinary Dermatologist & Practice Owner at Hastings Veterinary Hospital, Burnaby.

Caring for Kittens, The Series. Stage 2: 8-12 Weeks

Welcome to part two of our “Caring for Kittens” series! This is an exciting period for you and kitty as your adventurous, playful little pet will be forming their very first impressions of people and the world. During these weeks, you will need to monitor his or her learning experiences and ensure they are both healthy and safe.

Normal Characteristics between Weeks 8-12

By week eight, most kittens know how to use a litter box. If your kitten does not, you can housetrain them in a few days by providing them with a litter box. Scoop kitty up and place them in it each time he or she starts to urinate or defecate. Never punish them while they are learning this important skill. Be patient.

You should also expect the following changes and habits:

  • During these weeks they will sleep about 20 hours a day.
  • When awake, kitty will be on the go, running, climbing, jumping, stalking, pouncing, and more than eager to play. Now is the perfect time to offer them paper bags, plastic, flexible straws, and anything they can chase as toys.
  • Kittens have very small tummies and will thrive on 4 small meals a day. They need access to a water bowl at all times.
  • They love to use their claws and will be happy to scratch and shred anything on which they can get their little paws—even you! You can deter this behavior by providing a scratching post.
  • They will grow bigger and heavier every week.
  • Whenever you run your hands over your kitten, there should be no lumps, bumps, or any indication of sensitivity to touch. If there are, you need to contact your veterinarian.

How to Make Sure Your Kitten Stays Safe

  • Cover any exposed wires in your home, and keep cleaning products, insecticide baits, and sharp objects out of kitty’s reach.
  • Make sure kitty doesn’t have access to the attic or basement if these areas aren’t well ventilated or if they expose tiny, inviting places where kitty can wiggle in and can’t get out.
  • Introduce him or her slowly to other household pets and supervise them until you are sure they all get along. Again, you need to be patient with this; all animals need lots of time to get used to each other’s scent.
  • Check for doors in your house that don’t close properly or give kitty access to rooms you want kept out of bounds. Also check for broken screens on windows and outer doors that could allow kitty to escape from the house.
  • Have your veterinarian insert an ID chip under kitty’s skin to make sure they can be identified if he or she is lost or comes to harm and is taken to a shelter or clinic.
  • Invest in a travel carrier. You will need it when taking kitty to the veterinarian and for visits elsewhere, and you should keep it near kitty for a while so that they will grow more used to it.

Checkup and Vaccinations

Kittens should have a nose-to-tail checkup from a veterinarian and a vaccination program started or planned.

When kittens stop receiving mother’s milk, they no longer have immunity from diseases for which their mothers were immunized or developed antibodies against. Kittens usually receive their first vaccination between 6-8 weeks, boosters at 12 weeks and 16 weeks of age, or 4 weeks after their first visit. Let your veterinarian be your guide to the vaccinations needed. Typically during their first visit your kitten will receive vaccination against feline distemper. Your veterinarian will discuss with you if there is any possible need for vaccinations against FELV (aka feline leukemia) and rabies based on your kitten’s lifestyle. 

Feedings

Make sure your kitten eats an appropriate diet—your veterinarian will be happy to make recommendations. If your cat receives canned food, don’t let it stay out for longer than 20 minutes. Canned food should be offered early as it does have some health benefits for kittens; you should also gradually introduce your kitty to dry food at this age.

Avoid letting him or her eat food intended for humans or dogs. Keep their water bowl full; it needs to be changed frequently in order to give them access to fresh water. If the water has a peculiar odor or taste and kitty turns away from it, you can give them bottled water.

Useful Training Tips for Kitty

  • Get them to socialize: Take time to pet and play with your kitten daily and introduce him or her now and then to other people so that he or she will learn to like and trust humans in general.
  • Teach them to accept the carrier: Put treats inside the carrier and, when he or she is used to wandering in and out, shut the door and move them to another room, then let them out right away and give them a treat. Take short trips in the car followed by a treat so that he or she will not be afraid of the carrier.
  • Train them to use their scratching post: If he or she starts to scratch your furniture or carpets, discourage them and then move them to the scratching post.
  • Teach kitty to come when you call: Use their name often and, when he or she starts to look up or at you when they hear their name, reward them with a treat.

Congratulations, you now have a healthy and happy kitten in your life!

Did you miss out on part 1? Read Caring for Kittens, The Series. Stage 1: Age 0-8 Weeks.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to the Hastings Veterinary Clinic and a clickable link back to this page.