9 Reasons Why Bunnies Make Great Pets

When many people decide to get a pet, the follow up question is usually: ‘Cat or dog?’ However, one type of pet that people tend to overlook is rabbits, when in fact, they’re one of the best furry friends you could ask for. Depending on who you are and what your lifestyle is, a rabbit could be the perfect pet.

When it comes to rabbit ownership, the level of commitment needed is much lower than with other pets. They can be as cuddly and interactive as a dog, but you don’t need to take them out for walks. And they can have as much personality as a cat, minus the bursts of extreme energy that so many cats are prone to. In short, rabbits are a happy medium between many of the most popular pets and might be a great choice for your home. Here are nine good reasons why bunnies make great pets.

1. They’re quiet creatures

Contrary to dogs or particularly vocal cats, rabbits are very quiet animals. They make the occasional sound, but by and large, they’re not much for making noise. This is perfect for people with various needs when it comes to having a pet. 

For those living in a small home, noise is a very important factor to consider when choosing a pet. Many people can’t handle noisy animals in their own home, or they don’t want to risk being woken up in the middle of the night by a restless animal. The good news is that rabbits are some of the most soft-spoken pets out there, making them the perfect choice for anyone looking for peace and quiet.

2. Bunnies are full of character

Just like with larger pets, every rabbit is a little different in their personality. Some are full of energy and love to play, and others are a little more on the shy side, and prefer relaxing. This is why it’s a great idea to take some time with a rabbit before adopting them and ensure their personality is a good fit for yours. 

If you’re a more low-key individual, a laid-back rabbit might be the best choice for you. If you’re a high energy person with lots of time to play with a pet, you’ll want a rabbit that’s a little more excitable. No matter what the personality of your rabbit, you’ll find that all of them are very affectionate and love to interact with people and the world around them in their own special way.

3. They’re easy to train

One of the lesser-known facts about rabbits is just how easy it is to train one. Not only are rabbits fairly quick to learn to use a litter-box, they’re also fully capable of doing tricks, running mazes, and completing obstacle courses. There’s no special method of training that’s specific to rabbits; you can actually train them with most of the same principles you’d use to train a dog. Typically, all it takes is a few minutes of training a day, along with some positive reinforcement.

4. Rabbits are space-effective pets

This is another great advantage of rabbits for people in smaller homes. They’ll be more than happy to spend time in a small to medium-sized crate, and just need a bunny-proof area to run around, stretch their legs, eat, drink, and use the litter box. Beyond that, how far you want to go with your bunny’s area is up to you.

5. Rabbits form strong bonds

Rabbits are intelligent and emotionally complex creatures. Any rabbit owner will tell you that their bunnies form as strong a connection with them as any cat or dog. Rabbits learn to recognize their person by sight, sound, and smell; some of them even respond to their name! It’s also not uncommon for a rabbit to follow their person around the house, and lots of them like to cuddle as well.

6. There’s a breed of bunny for everyone

There are more than fifty unique breeds of rabbit, and they truly come in every shape, size, and colour. From the truly enormous Flemish giant rabbit, all the way down to the tiniest dwarf breeds, there’s a type of rabbit for everyone. Just make sure to do your research when considering adopting a rabbit of a certain breed, as they often have different temperaments and personality traits.

7. There are many rabbits in need of rescue

We often encourage people looking for pets to rescue and adopt their animals from a shelter wherever possible. Sadly, rabbits are also often abandoned, and there’s typically always at least a handful of them in need of rescue and a loving home. Do your research and see if there’s a rabbit in need before buying one from a breeder or pet store.

8. Rabbits live long lives

Considering their size, rabbits tend to live surprisingly long lives. Rabbits will live, on average, about seven to ten years, some get even older. When taking in a pet, it’s comforting to know that you’ll have a long time to share together, and this is especially true for rabbits.

9. They’re (generally) clean pets!

Admittedly, bunnies aren’t the cleanest pets when they haven’t been litter-box trained. However, if you can get through the initial messy period and train their behaviour, you’ll find that they’re generally very tidy creatures. Beyond a litter box area, you’ll also want to supply their sleeping area with absorbent, dry bedding in case of urine. Additionally, rabbits like to keep themselves clean and will usually groom often enough to be self-sufficient. Depending on the breed of your rabbit, you may need to give them a brush from time to time to prevent any tangling or matting of their coats, but aside from that, they like to keep things fairly clean.

If you’re beginning to warm up to the idea of owning a rabbit, that’s great! They’re some of the most wonderful animals you could ask to have in your home. If you’re considering adopting a rabbit, you’re looking for more guidance on how to raise, train, and care for your bunny, or you’re looking for a veterinarian to care for your new pet, contact us or book an appointment with our rabbit vet. We’re happy to help answer any questions you might have about rabbits, and we’d love to meet yours!

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How to Teach your Child to be Gentle with Pets

Having a furry companion in the family can be a real joy, and there have been multiple studies showing the benefit that having pets at home can have on a developing child. However, if you’re looking to introduce your child to a new pet, or a new child to your pet, you’ll need to put the work in to make sure both are as happy and comfortable as possible.

It’s important to teach your child to respect all animals, not just pets, from an early age. However, since cats, dogs, and rabbits are the animals they’ll most likely come into contact with, they can be the perfect starting place to teach your child the importance of respect and gentleness for all living things. 

Teaching your child to be gentle with animals will not only provide a safe and peaceful environment for you and your pets, but it could help prevent any potentially nasty interactions, such as dog bites, with unknown animals down the line. No matter how well-behaved the kid, as their parent, you should always keep an eye on them when they’re around animals, particularly in the transition phase as they get used to having a pet in the house. Even the gentlest child can hurt, annoy, or aggravate an animal without meaning to, thanks to their limited motor skills and still-developing sense of boundaries. 

While each family has their own specific way of teaching important lessons to children, we believe the best way to make a lasting impression is to lead by example. Young children, with their ever-expanding minds, are constantly absorbing information from the world around them, most of all from their parents. Understanding what kinds of behaviours you’d like to see from your child, and then modelling those behaviours, is the number one way to start seeing positive change from your child’s animal encounters.

Encouraging desired behaviours

Although the exact list of ideal behaviour may shift a bit depending on your family and your pet, there are a few basic ground rules that will help provide stability and happiness for everyone involved. This includes, but isn’t limited to:

  • Overall respect and gentleness when interacting with animals
  • Calm play, and avoiding over-exciting the animal
  • No abusive behaviour, such as hitting, prodding, yelling, etc.
  • Leaving animals, particularly dogs, alone when they’re in their crate unless absolutely necessary
  • Leaving animals, especially dogs, alone while they’re eating
  • Understanding how to pet animals, and doing it calmly
  • Not chasing after animals that want to be left alone
  • When meeting a new dog, never approaching it straight away; instead letting it come to you

Although your child should know each of these, rattling each one off at the same time is unlikely to stick in their brain. When in doubt, think of the old mantra “show, don’t tell.” Kids learn by watching, and by doing, and this is equally true when learning how to respect animals.

Teaching your child proper behaviour

So what’s the best way to model proper behaviour around animals? We recommend working backwards from the behaviour you’d like to see, and figuring out how you can create teachable moments to leave a lasting impression. For instance, show your child how your pet likes to be touched. Do it with them first, in order to give an example. When they’ve observed the proper technique, allow your child to give it a try. Work with them until they’re able to properly pet the animal without corrections or reminders, and be sure to emphasize how much your pet likes it when they’re touched properly.

Children, and especially toddlers, must learn to allow dogs to approach them first, rather than vice versa. They should understand that while many animals look cute and cuddly, they may not be comfortable around new people, or may only like to be touched in a certain way. If you and your kid are out and about, and you spot a friendly looking dog, make a point of letting your child see you ask for the owner’s permission to pet it. Then, invite the dog to come to you, and have your child do the same thing. 

For your own pet, reinforce that your child should do something else while your pet is in their crate, eating, or doing their business. If they don’t understand straight away, try drawing comparisons. How would your child feel if someone tried to scratch them behind the ears while they were busy with sleeping or eating? Make sure they understand that, just like people, animals need private time away from others.

Above all else, make sure your child understands that your pet is a living being with emotions, and a personality, not a toy. While a young child may not fully understand the difference between their cat and their favourite stuffed animal yet, it’s important to reinforce the distinction as often as possible. Again, drawing comparisons to how they’re expected to behave around people can be useful—for instance, just as with people, your child should understand never to throw things at your pet, sit on them, or play too roughly.

Reinforcing gentle behaviour

Lengthy lectures usually won’t have the desired effect on your child—instead, we recommend first modelling the behaviour you’d like to see from them, in essence, setting the best example possible. From here, it’s important to back up what you say, and help your child understand that they need to behave in the same way you do. After explaining the importance of treating your pet respectfully and gently, lay out clear consequences for your child if they don’t. There’s no need to go overboard; a short time-out should get the message across just fine. 

Additionally, making the punishment fit the crime, so to speak, is a great way to reinforce lessons you teach your child. For starters, if you notice your child acting roughly or teasingly with your pet, you should separate the two immediately. This protects your child from a fed-up animal, and your pet from unnecessary grief. Likewise, if your child is using their toys to throw at your pet, take them away for a period. These consequences will not only help them realize they’ve done something wrong, but give them a better idea of exactly what they did wrong, and help them connect their actions with the ramifications.

Helping everyone get along

Instilling the importance of treating all animals with respect will not only help protect your child from run-ins with upset pets, but also help them develop into better people in general. Understanding how to be gentle, kind, and respectful to animals will help your children develop better social skills and healthier relationships later in life, whether that’s with people or pets. 

If you still have questions about teaching your child how to be gentle with animals, how to make the transition period of a new pet as smooth as possible, or anything else to do with your four-legged companion, don’t hesitate to contact Hastings Vet today!

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Indoors or Outdoors? Where to Raise Your Pet Rabbit

The Burnaby BC area has a mild climate with even temperatures that allow rabbits to live outside all year round. However, it is definitely better if you own a pet rabbit to raise them indoors. Although it is possible to keep your pet rabbit outside as long as you are mindful of the dangers, most pet experts agree that raising rabbits indoors is the safest and healthiest option.

The Pros for Raising Rabbits Indoors

  1. Safe from Predators – Your rabbit will feel much more secure if he or she lives indoors because predators will be out of sight and out of mind, sound, and smell. Unless there is a danger from other pets—in which case, they must be kept away—indoor bunnies can thrive happily and have plenty of freedom even in a very small house or apartment.
  2. Loneliness is Less Likely – Rabbits make adorable family pets and are intelligent and inquisitive by nature. Loneliness can be a serious problem for these little animals, and a family member must to be able to play and interact with your pet rabbit daily, which is much more convenient if a bunny is housed indoors. If you have a busy life and you can’t manage regular playtime even for an indoor pet, you should acquire a second rabbit so they can keep each other company.
  3. Weather is Never a Problem – No matter how cold, wet, damp, or stormy it is outside, you and your pet rabbit will be comfy and cozy inside. Your mind will be at ease even if the weather suddenly and unexpectedly changes and you are not at home. You don’t have to worry about racing home to rescue your little rabbit from the nasty weather while he or she is in an outdoor hutch.
  4. Housing Arrangements Can be Flexible – Your pet needs a suitable caged home indoors that is big enough to stretch and move around in easily, including room for lots of hay, food, water, and chew toys. In addition, you need an area for your bunny to have lots of exercise. When you litter-train your pet, he or she can have a whole room or part of the house where it is safe and fun to roam around. It is a good idea to put your bunny in the cage when you are not at home and when you go to bed at night, so that you can relax, knowing your little pet is perfectly secure and happy.
  5. Health Problem Signs are More Obvious – If your rabbit lives indoors with you, it will be easy to notice if there are symptoms of a health problem developing. It’s more difficult to notice symptoms if your pet lives outside and you have less interaction with them.

The Cons for Raising Rabbits Indoors 

  1. Other Pets Can Be a Problem – Other pets in your family may pose a danger to your bunny. If you have, say, a hunting or herding breed of dog such as a Yorkshire Terrier, you will have to make special arrangements to keep them separated and the solution can’t be to keep your bunny locked in a cage all the time. That would be unkind.
  2. Furniture May Entice a Bunny to Chew and Dig – Rabbits love to chew, dig, and burrow and it is important for owners to provide the opportunity for their little pets to enjoy these activities without causing harm. You must rabbit-proof your home with the same care that you baby-proof one.
  • Secure electric cords out of reach, protect the legs and undersides of furniture, and provide lots of chew toys: blocks of wood, commercial rabbit toys, paper towel tubes, and towels or old shirts that can be used for tunneling.
  • Tape boxes together with openings through which rabbits can squeeze, or plush cat tunnels, wicker baskets, or sisal mats that can be chewed and torn apart, and provide a variety of items to keep your bunny busy and happy. Block off areas that are unsafe for your pet to go or where there are items that could be damaged by chewing.

The Pros for Raising Rabbits Outside

  1. Outside Was Once a Rabbit’s Natural Habitat – Today, a rabbit can survive even if the outdoors is not the natural habitat of domestic rabbits. They can adapt to living outside as long as a good home is provided and the owner keeps a close eye on the situation. Because your pet needs an exercise area that is three times the size of a hutch, it is usually easier to find a good location like this outside.
  2. Bunny has the Freedom to Chew and Dig – Most outdoor items won’t be harmed by a chewing, digging rabbit who can engage in these activities to his or her heart’s content. You must secure the area, of course, and take precautions to keep your rabbit from tunneling under a fence and escaping. If you are careful, your bunny will enjoy the freedom of living outside, especially if another rabbit is there for companionship.

The Cons for Raising Rabbits Outside

  1. Times Have Changed – Domestic rabbits, unlike the wild rabbits people remember from the olden days, don’t thrive as well or for as long if housed outside, nor are they equipped to survive on their own. If kept outside, a bunny now needs a very secure enclosure, which includes a hutch where your pet can hide if feeling threatened and can be protected from the elements when the weather changes.
  2. Predator Safety Concerns – Rabbits are prey to animals like dogs, cats, raccoons, foxes, hawks, and eagles. Even if he or she is safely tucked away in a hutch, a rabbit can be so frightened at the sight, sound, or smell of a nearby enemy, he or she can suffer a heart attack.
  3. Loneliness is More Likely – Loneliness can be a serious problem for rabbits as they are social animals. If a family member can’t play and interact with your little pet daily, which is probably less convenient if he or she is housed outside, your bunny will become very unhappy fast.
  4. Weather Can be a Serious Problem – Rabbits do not handle extreme temperatures or stormy weather at all well, and accommodations that adapt to all weather conditions may be difficult to find, build, or arrange.
  5. Vegetation Must be Constantly Monitored for Safety – Rabbits will munch on just about anything, and you have to keep a close eye on what is growing in your bunny’s play area. See to it that all toxic plants that may start growing in the yard are quickly removed. Make sure you know and can identify all the plants that must be ruthlessly dug up before your bunny finds them first.

How Do You Make Your Decision?

You may have heard the argument that rabbits can be raised outside because they have lived outside in hutches for many generations, and wild rabbits still safely live outside today. However, that is not a realistic assessment of the situation because:

  1. Wild Rabbits are a Different Species Than Domestic – Domestic rabbits are not the same animals as wild rabbits. Wild rabbits are smaller, they grow thicker coats, have bigger feet, can run faster, and are better equipped to deal with and hide from their natural enemies. If domestic rabbits become lost outdoors, they cannot survive for long because they don’t have the instincts and traits that allow them to live in the wild.
  2. Rabbits Used to be Kept Outdoors Only Briefly – Outdoor rabbits were generally kept in hutches and raised as food for only a matter of months. Domestic rabbits are kept as pets for many years.

This is why, overall, raising a rabbit indoors is the best choice you can make for your pet rabbit. However, if you don’t have a suitable area indoors, and you have the space and the inclination to take all the special precautions that are required to raise a rabbit outside, it can be done—but you must be very, very careful.

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

How to Choose a Name for Your Newly Adopted Pet

Have you been considering adopting a new cat, dog, or bunny recently? Or have you decided to adopt a new pet?

When you bring home your newly adopted pet, the first order of business is to start considering names for your family’s newest member. This can be both a fun but also a serious task that you shouldn’t rush into. You’ll want a name that is suitable and that you love, and you’ll need to share that name with your friends and veterinarian too.

You can think about the name while you help your pet adjust to their new home and new owner(s). Your new pet will be happy just to be reassured that he or she is safe and loved. If you’re truly stumped on picking a name, however, don’t worry. Here are some tips on how to choose the best name for your newly adopted pet.

General Rules for Naming a Pet

Since you will be using your pet’s name a lot, both at home and while at your new pet’s veterinarian’s office, you should choose a name that gives you pleasure to use.

Do:

  • Keep the name short, or at least, use a shortened version of a name if there are more than two syllables. For example, you might want to call your kitten “Queen Victoria,” but consider teaching your kitten to respond to “Queen” or “Queenie” or “Vicky” or “Tori,” all of which are easier for you to call and for her to identify.
  • Choose a name that will still be appropriate when your pet is older. “Baby Boo” is fine for your little, fluffy bunny, but not suitable for your big rabbit.
  • If naming a dog, choose a name that begins with a hard consonant—such as “D,” “K,” “T,” and “S” rather than a vowel. These are easier for dogs to hear and identify with. However, vowels are great for the ending of the name, such as “Bailey,” “Shilo,” “Karla,” or “Goldie.”

Don’t:

  • Don’t choose a name that rhymes with “No,” such as “Joe” or “Beau,” which may be confused with the command “No.” Also, avoid names like “Shae,” or “Fletch” for dogs if you plan to teach them to “stay” and “fetch.”
  • Don’t let young children be in charge of naming a pet, because there is no telling what they may choose. You don’t want to have to have to call, “Here Poopy Pants,” when you take your dog to the dog park. Limit children to selecting a name from two or three you have already chosen.
  • Don’t choose names that could be offensive or embarrassing, such as those that can be interpreted as racial, cultural, or religious slurs or insults, or that have a curse word in them.
  • Don’t choose one of the more popular names for your pet unless you really love it. You may find it confusing when you take your dog to the veterinarian’s office or the dog park and someone calls “Bella,” “Lucy,” “Max,” or “Buddy,” which are very common names for dogs today.
  • Don’t name your pet after a friend or relative unless you have asked first. Some people might consider it an honour while others may not like it at all.
  • Don’t use a name that can be associated with something unpleasant like calling a dog that will grow very big by the name of “Killer.” It won’t be reassuring to a frightened child if your big dog is getting up close and personal and you call out, “Don’t worry—Killer won’t hurt you!”

Names Can Describe a Pet’s Appearance or Breed

If you like the idea of using an animal’s appearance for a name, a grey bunny, kitten, or puppy could be called “Lady Grey,” or “Shadow”; a white animal named “Polar,” or “Pearl”; a black animal called “Ebony,” or “Sooty”; and let’s not forget “Rusty” or “Red,” not to mention “Spot.”

A particular breed of dog or cat may suggest a name, like using a German name such as “Gustav” for your German Shepherd or “Sammy” for your Siamese cat.

Names Can Reflect The Pet Owner’s Interest

If you are a movie buff, consider naming your pet after a favorite movie star or a movie character. Star Wars has certainly inspired a lot of pet names over the years, and so has Harry Potter.

If music is your interest, it can be reflected by naming your pet after composers, singers, and band members. You could consider musical terms as well, like “Riff”.

The art world opens up other names such as Pollock, Dali, Degas, and Monet, which are interesting names for pets; and literature lovers can choose from their favourite authors’ names.

Real or Fictional Characters or Animals Can Inspire Names

  • Famous wizards can inspire families to name adopted pets after them, such as Merlin, Gandalf, and Glinda.
  • Famous animals can inspire great pet names: for dogs there is Lassie, Blue, or Dino. For cats, there is Garfield, Felix, or Sylvester. For bunnies, there is Peter Rabbit, Roger Rabbit, or Bugs Bunny.
  • Search the Internet for ideas and you can find 100 popular names for cats, dogs, bunnies, and all sorts of pets, and the most popular names for particular breeds, colors, and personality traits, too.

How to Teach Your Pet His or Her New Name

Once you have settled on a name, it is time to teach your pet to respond to it. These tips can help:

  • Always smile when you say your pet’s name so that his or her association with the word is something that makes you happy. Hearing the word—his or her name—will begin to make your pet happy and more responsive.
  • Carry treats with you for a few days, and when you call out your pet’s name and get his or her attention, smile, praise your pet, and hand out a treat.
  • When a pet hears his or her name and comes to the owner and receives a treat, it means the pet has learned the sound of the name. Pets indicate they know their name when they come when called, or when they turn their head and look at the speaker when they hear their name spoken.
  • If you feel you must change an older animal’s name and the pet has had it for a long time, choose a rhyming word, such as “Bella” to “Stella,” or “Al” to “Pal.” If you want a name that doesn’t rhyme with the old one, use the old name—for instance—“Pete” with the new name “Toby” together, and call your pet by the double name “Pete-Toby.” After a few days, start dropping the “Pete” part of the name. Go back and forth between “Pete-Toby” and “Toby,” and then just drop the “Pete” altogether when your pet responds to “Toby” alone.

Once you’ve decided on a name for your newly adopted pet, let your family vet know! That way you can both go over your new pet’s needs during their first appointment, create a new file, and maybe even develop a new friendship or two along the way!

Deciding on a name is a fun and important task, and one you should take your time with. Make sure the name you pick is easy to say and it’s easy for your new family member to identify with, and that you and your family really love it. After all, you’ll be using the name often for many years, and your new pet will love to hear it!

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

These Tips Make Litter Box Training for Kittens Easy

Have you adopted a kitten recently? If so, congratulations! Now the next step after you bring your new kitten home: litter box training.

However, you don’t have to worry about training a kitten to use the litter box if you have chosen a good location for it and have all the supplies on hand before you bring your new kitten home. Kittens instinctively want to relieve themselves in sand or dirt—or its equivalent, such as kitty litter—so as long as you show your kitten where the litter box is, nature will take care of the rest. A little help in training from you is always welcomed though!

Tip 1. Have Supplies on Hand When You Bring Your Kitten Home

There are a lot of choices when it comes to selecting a litter box, a suitable type of litter, and the tools needed to keep everything clean and fresh.

Buy a Good Litter Box: a “good” box means one that is the right size for your pet not only when your kitten is small but also when he or she becomes an adult. Kittens grow very fast!

  • Make sure your kitten can get into the box easily when small, and if there is any difficulty at all, add a little ramp of plywood or some other suitable material attached to the underside to the box. It can be removed when your kitten is bigger.
  • The box should be big enough for your kitten to turn around and become comfortable when using it, and deep enough to bury the feces.
  • You may want to provide an enclosed litter box with a top, which helps contain the litter and the odors. If so, plan to remove any doors and hood at first so that your kitten doesn’t feel the space is cramped.

Provide Suitable Litter: there are lots of choices for kitty litter. You should buy one that is as dust free as possible and is readily available in most stores. Cats become used to their favourite litter and may object if you decide to change it or can’t find it when shopping.

  • Unscented litter is more popular with kittens, and you should avoid perfumed litter just in case it bothers your pet’s nose or lungs.
  • Avoid buying clumping litter when your new pet is still a kitten. Kittens sometimes eat clumping litter, which can harm their intestines.

You Need a Scooper and a Drop Cloth: put a drop cloth under the litter box so that any litter that is kicked out is easy to clean up. A scooper is necessary for the daily ritual of scooping out the urine and feces so that the litter box doesn’t smell which does disturb your kitten as much as it disturbs you!

Tip 2. Prepare Your House

When you first bring your kitten home, make sure you have chosen a good place for the litter box and introduce your kitten to it right away.

Find the Best Location for the Litter Box: the box should be in a quiet, private place in or by a room where your kitten may spend a lot of time.

  • If you put the litter box in the laundry area beside the washer and/or dryer, the sounds of the machines may frighten your kitten. You don’t want your pet to look for and find a quieter location instead—like behind the sofa!
  • If you have more than one cat, have a litter box for each pet. The anecdotally accepted rule is to have a litter box for each cat plus one.
  • If you have to move the litter box after your kitten is used to its location, move it a few feet at a time over a period of several days so that your kitten is not confused.
  • Avoid placing the litter box near your kitten’s water and food dishes. Your new kitten will not be comfortable with that arrangement.

Confine Your Kitten for a Few Days: it is a good idea to confine your kitten to one or two rooms when he or she is first brought home to reduce the likelihood of accidents happening. Most kittens know immediately how to use a litter box, but it takes some kittens a few days to adjust to where it is and its purpose. If it’s possible, remove nearby carpets and rugs to make cleaning up after your cat easier until their litter training is completed.

Remove Potted Plants: to prevent your kitty from finding an alternate source of litter than what’s in the box, remove your big potted plants out of sight and reach. Keep them away until it’s established that the litter box is the spot your kitten must choose each time.

Tip 3. This is How Actual Litter Box Training for Kittens Takes Place

Most kittens will know all about litter boxes and how to use them if they have been with their mothers for a while. If not, they usually catch on fast, but it may take some kittens a few days to learn. Always be patient.

What to Do First: as soon as you arrive home, place your new kitten in the litter box to introduce it to the location, smell, and the feel of their litter box. Your kitten may not use it right away, but the familiarity will help.

What Not to Do: Kittens don’t need to be shown how to cover up their feces by, say, your taking hold of a paw and helping with the digging. Kittens will not react well to this action! Covering feces and urine is instinctive for kittens, so even though it may not happen at first, it will soon.

How to Keep Your Kitty on a Schedule: Pick the kitten up and place him or her in the box upon waking up, after each meal, or after some interval of time has occurred. You may have to do this frequently at first or maybe only for a day or two.

  • If you see your kitten squat outside the litter box, assume the box is needed and then pick him or her up and place your pet in it.
  • Establish a regular feeding schedule and assume your kitten will likely need to use the box about 20 minutes later.

Offer Praise, not Punishment: if you see your kitten use the box correctly, pet and praise your little pet. Never scold or get angry at your kitten if they forget.

How to Deal with Accidents: if an accident occurs, help your pet smell the box’s location afterwards. Pick your kitty up and place him or her in the box as a reminder of where they are supposed to go if they have to. Don’t ever rub the noses of kittens into the feces or urine! Doing this is confusing and frightening to them. Clean up the accident area thoroughly so there is no smell remaining; it could encourage your kitten to consider the spot as their bathroom.

Tip 4. Keep the Litter Box Clean

Kittens don’t like unpleasant odors as much as we don’t. They will tend to avoid using a dirty litter box, so you need to keep it clean.

Clean the Litter Daily: use the scooper on a daily basis to remove the urine and feces.

Clean the Box Frequently: about once a week, dump the litter into a garbage bag and wash the box with soapy water or a non-toxic cleaner. Rinse, dry, and fill it with fresh litter after washing.

Unlike potty training dogs, which can take a little while, litter box training for kittens is usually a simple matter of finding the right box, finding the right litter, and making sure the box is easily accessible and regularly kept clean. Kittens can usually be trained in a day or two—it’s easy-peasy!

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

Bunny Care Tips: Why you Shouldn’t Give Real Rabbits as Easter Gifts

Are you getting your home ready for Easter? If you’re scoping out ideas for Easter gifts, you may get excited about the thought of giving a live rabbit to your child. However, this may not be a good idea.

Giving a bunny as a gift on the day on which a magical gift-giving bunny is featured certainly has its appeal. However, control this impulse as a favour to both your children and to the rabbit that may be chosen as a pet. Instead, why not select from the many wonderful gifts available?

Real Life Bunnies Shouldn’t be Purchased Without Careful Thought

Bunnies are so charming and make such good companions, it is not surprising that they are the third most popular pets in Canada, right behind dogs and cats. It is also not surprising that they are the third most frequently abandoned pets.

Thousands of rabbits are taken to animal shelters right after Easter, the day on which these little creatures are so often given as gifts to children. Even worse, many are abandoned and left to fend for themselves—and that’s bad because these are animals of prey who have no idea how to survive in the wild. In many communities, dumping unwanted rabbits is illegal.

Here is Why a Live Bunny is Not a Good Easter Gift:

1. Rabbits live from 8 to 12 years, and owning one means making a long-term commitment.

2. Young children can’t be left alone with a rabbit because they don’t understand how fragile rabbits are and how easily they can be hurt. Rabbit bones can break and their limbs can become dislocated if these pets are dropped, held too tightly, or jerked around.

3. Rabbits are nervous creatures by nature. Too much noise, activity, and even other family pets can upset them so much that they can have heart attacks!  For the same reason, they need to be housed indoors instead of outdoors, because roaming animals outside can frighten them enough even when they are safe inside a cage.

4. Rabbits don’t like being picked up without warning, and they will scratch and hurt a child out of self-defense (especially those who attempt to lift the bunny incorrectly).

5. Rabbits not only need a cage, but they also need to be given space to exercise outside the cage.

6. Rabbits are social animals and need someone—an adult or an older child—to play with them, to litter box train them so they are not creating messes to be cleaned up each day, and to give them the daily, gentle companionship they crave.

7. Bunnies love to chew, and they will chew on almost anything. You need to rabbit-proof play areas for them so they don’t chew your furniture, electrical cords, or anything else that isn’t safe.

8. Rabbits are herbivores and don’t eat meat. Their special diet needs change as they age.

9. Like dogs and cats, rabbits need an annual checkup by a veterinarian and should be spayed or neutered when they mature. They are classified as exotic pets and must be taken to veterinarians who have taken special training to care for them.

Instead of Live Rabbits, Here are Some Great Easter Gift Ideas

Whatever your reasons to celebrate Easter and whether you have a lot or very little money to buy presents, there are plenty of other Easter gifts! You can find them in a great range of prices and at many stores as the holiday approaches.

1. General Gift Suggestions

  • You can’t go wrong with stuffed, cuddly little bunnies that come in all sizes, colours, and at every price.
  • Chocolate and candied bunnies and eggs—hollow or filled with a variety of yummy centers—are in grocery, candy, and corner stores. You can find candy and chocolate for diabetics as well as dairy-free, gluten-free, and Fair Trade candy.
  • ‘Tis the season for outdoor play! Treat your kids with skipping ropes, yo-yos, Frisbees, balls, or kites.
  • There are many suitable books for children of all ages to enjoy, such as:
    • Guess How Much I Love You – boxed with a cute, stuffed bunny for young children
    • The Berenstain Bears and the Easter Story
    • Meet the Easter Beagle – and it’s Snoopy, of course!
  • Silly putty eggs filled with slime that stretches and bounces.
  • A Lego Easter Egg Painting Set is fun for older kids.
  • Easter baskets filled with small Easter trinkets, toys, and goodies are always welcome. For children not allowed candy, substitute it with fresh or dried fruit.
  • Plastic eggs – you can buy these pre-filled with candy or empty for you to stuff with healthier food choices or with little toys.

2. Easter Experiences:

  • Kids love to colour and decorate eggs for Easter! Egg painting kits are inexpensive and available at most grocery stores. Even less expensive are your own cups filled with boiling hot water, 1 teaspoon of vinegar, and 10 drops of food colouring. Using a tablespoon, you can dunk hardboiled eggs into the coloured water and wait for 3 to 5 minutes. For further eggs decorating ideas, search the Internet or your local library.
  • Using Easter themed cookie cutters available from the dollar store, cut bunny, egg, and flower shapes from rolled out sugar or shortbread batter. Bake, cool, and have children decorate the cookies with colored icing, chopped nuts, and candied cherries.
  • Help children plant seeds or seedlings into pots for indoor windowsill gardening. Eventually they’ll get to see lots of colourful flowers sprouting!
  • Visit an animal or bird sanctuary as a family outing on Easter weekend.
  • Make an appointment to visit a local animal shelter, so that your children can visit the rabbits and hold one.
  • If there is a community-sponsored Easter egg hunt in your area, your children will be welcome to hunt for eggs. Make sure you get there on time! If you have a yard, you can have your own Easter egg hunt. (Don’t forget to keep a little map showing where they have been hidden!)

With so many wonderful gift choices available, you can easily stifle the urge to bestow a live bunny on a child at Easter. Happy Easter, everyone!

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

Adopting a Pet Bunny? Learn Rabbit Care 101

Are you planning to adopt a pet bunny, or have become a new rabbit owner recently? If so, congratulations! Now is a great time to learn basic rabbit care 101. That way you can provide a healthy environment that will keep your new pet happy.

There are lots of reasons for choosing a bunny as a pet. The following information will help you be a good pet parent for your brand new family member.

Why a Rabbit Makes a Good Pet

If you want a charming pet who will show you love and affection and will fit into a small household without requiring the attention a puppy needs or the space a kitty wants, a rabbit can be the perfect pet for your household.

  • Rabbits are very, very quiet, which is a big bonus if you live in an apartment or a peaceful neighborhood. There will be no barking when something or someone passes by outside or when left alone, and there will be no whining at the door when you leave the house.
  • Like cats and dogs, rabbits form deep bonds with their owners, recognize them on sight and by voice, will come when called, and tend to follow their parents around.
  • Rabbits can be housed in small spaces and are low maintenance compared to dogs. They don’t have to be walked, they require little grooming, and they can be litter box trained quite easily.
  • Rabbits are very cute and cuddly and they can be taught tricks too, like jumping through hoops or running through mazes.
  • Unlike most small animals (e.g. hamsters or guinea pigs), rabbits usually live eight to ten years or more, especially if raised indoors.
  • You can select the perfect rabbit from more than 50 breeds in a variety of colours and with distinctive personalities.

Why a Rabbit May Not be the Right Pet for You

There are particular considerations to make when choosing a rabbit as a pet. You might not be in the best situation to welcome this little animal into your household if any of the following applies:

  • For people who live in very small homes and have no yard, it might be difficult to bunny-proof a house for the times when your little pet needs freedom to exercise by running around outside a cage or hutch for two or more hours each day.
  • If there are small children in the home, it won’t be a safe place for a fragile pet who needs to be picked up and held very carefully. Rabbits can be injured easily, especially when being handled by children too young to understand how delicate little bunnies can be.
  • Although you can easily find rabbits in shelters and they are not expensive to acquire, you need money to buy a suitable cage or hutch, litter, appropriate food, an annual checkup by a rabbit vet, and spaying or neutering surgery if it’s not already done.
  • It is important to ensure there is a qualified veterinarian in your area who knows how to treat a rabbit, especially if your bunny becomes sick or is injured.
  • Rabbits are social animals and you need to have time available to play with your bunny. If you move frequently or travel a lot, please understand that rabbits hate travelling and tend to be very nervous in new environments.

Basic Rabbit Care 101

1. The First Important Decisions

Once you have decided a rabbit will be a great pet for you or your family, choose your pet carefully, decide if your rabbit should be an indoor or outdoor pet, and if indoors, caged or allowed to roam at will or with restrictions.

Spend time with the bunnies you like best before making a final decision on which one to take home with you. Just like dogs and cats, some rabbits are very playful and outgoing, others are shy and more conservative. You should select one with a personality that suits you and your household the best.

Because rabbits are extremely social creatures, you should consider buying a pair of rabbits so that they can keep each other company. Handling your rabbit gently and often can help avoid aggression. As well as, spaying or neutering them.

If you have a yard and live in a very mild climate, you may consider housing your pet outdoors. However, domestic rabbits are not like wild rabbits and can’t survive in extreme hot or cold temperatures. Even if the climate is fine, the sight or sound of a wild animal nearby—even if your rabbit is caged and out of harm’s way—can cause so much stress to a little bunny.

If you plan to house your rabbit indoors—this is a preferred, healthier, and safer choice—you have to decide how much freedom your bunny can have. If it’s allowed to roam at will or is restricted to certain rooms when out of the cage (i.e. for most of, or part of, or a few hours of each day), you have to bunny-proof all areas in the home that your bunny can reach. Rabbits love to chew and will munch on anything like electrical cords, toxic cleaning products, and various plants. Keep your bunny safe by removing these hazards!

2. Purchase a Cage or Hutch and Other Necessities

A cage or hutch should be five times the length your rabbit will be when it’s fully grown and high enough for your bunny to stand up on its hind legs without bumping his or her head. The average size is about 12 square feet (1.1 square meters) plus another larger area or a room for exercise. If the bottom of the cage is made of wire, place layers of cardboard or other materials that will protect your bunny’s feet; they are not covered with pads like those of cats and dogs.

There must be room in the hutch for a litter box, which should contain organic litter (not kitty litter) made of paper, wood pulp, or citrus, plus a little hay for your bunny to snack on when they use the box. Boxes should be placed in the corners of a room; they prefer to use the litter box in these areas.

Make sure there is enough room for a sippy cup or a bowl of water in the cage. The water should be changed at least once a day. Include some items for your rabbit to chew on, such as blocks, rings, or balls of untreated willow wood, and cardboard paper towel rolls, or toilet paper rolls.

Have some of these items outside the cage as well to keep your bunny occupied when they’re roaming the house or exercise area. That way the edges of carpets or loose, enticing, chewable household objects are less attractive to your ever-munching pet. Bunnies also like to hide, so you can supply a little box with an opening that your pet can go inside and be alone.

3. Provide a Balanced Diet

Hay is the main diet staple for rabbits, and a body-sized amount of grass hay (e.g., timothy grass, orchard grass, oat hay, or brome) is the right amount. There should be a constant supply as it ensures protection of your bunny’s digestive system.

Fresh vegetables, primarily leafy and dark green ones (e.g. leaf lettuces, arugula, dandelion greens, and parsley) are best and you can supply a head-sized amount each day. Alfalfa-based pellets can be used as a supplement (not a substitute) to the leafy greens, and should be given only in small quantities, such as a small handful a day.

Fruits and treats are great when training your rabbit (to come when you call them, etc.) and just for fun, but use sparingly starting with a teaspoonful and only one at a time. Carrots, in spite of what you have seen in Bugs Bunny cartoons, fall into the category of treats, along with fresh blueberries, strawberries, pears, peaches, plums, papayas, and melons.

Avoid giving your rabbit iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, corn, beans, peas, potatoes, beets, onions, nuts, seeds, crackers, bread, and cereal. Don’t offer them candy, chocolate, or food for humans in general either.

4. Be Careful Lifting and Holding Your Rabbit

Avoid inflicting severe injuries on your new pet by remembering these “don’ts”: Don’t pick up a rabbit by the ears. Don’t carry one by the scruff of the neck without supporting the hind end. Don’t try to restrain rabbits on either slippery or hard surfaces or by pushing down on the animal.

A towel can be used to help restrain a rabbit safely. Remember to lift your bunny gently with the hind end always supported. For moving an aggressive rabbit, lift them by the scruff of the neck and support the rump while positioning the hind legs away from you to avoid being scratched or kicked.

For docile rabbits, lift them in the same fashion but hold the rabbit close to you and support the hind end with your elbow while placing your fingers under the front legs. Another lifting method for docile and shy rabbits is to place the head of your rabbit in the crook of your elbow, and support its weight and hind end with your arm while placing your other hand to hold or pet your rabbit over the back of the neck.

If a rabbit is the right pet for you and your household, following these simple rules in rabbit care 101 will supply you with the basic knowledge of how to care for these delightful, loving, little animals.

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

Older Cats Need Love, Too! 8 Reasons for Adopting One

Older cats make great pets! Their need for love and their willingness to return love so readily is only one of eight reasons to adopt an older cat. We love kittens just as much because they are so cute and cuddly, and it’s easy to lose our hearts to them even though, in many cases, an older cat might be a better choice for your household.

Why There Are Many Older Cats Available for Adoption

Older cats may be given up for adoption for a few reasons. Usually it’s because the owners:

  • are downsizing to an apartment that won’t accept pets
  • no longer want a cat after a baby is born into the family
  • have someone moving into the home who suffers from a cat allergy
  • develop asthma or some other allergy to cats
  • are moving to another area with accommodations and conditions unsuitable for pets
  • accept a new job that involves extensive travel and can no longer care for a pet
  • are moving into a seniors’ complex that doesn’t allow pets
  • become too sick to care for a pet, or are hospitalized for an indefinite time, or pass away

Older cats are often not chosen for adoption because people seeking a cat as a pet don’t realize the many benefits of choosing an older one, so they pick a cute little kitten instead. Lonely older cats yearning for a loving home may end their days in an animal shelter.

An older cat can be defined as any full-grown cat, which means it has reached the age of 18 months and, for some large breeds (e.g., a Maine Coon), at ages two to four years old. You can consider a cat to be a “senior” at approximately seven years old—again, depending on their breed. Most people consider a cat to be an “older cat” when the animal is beyond the cute kitten stage.

Whatever the definition, an older cat needs love just as much as a kitten does. Without further ado, here are the advantages of adopting an older cat.

1. Lower Costs

Most older cats have already received their vaccinations as kittens and may have had some of the booster shots as well. They have usually been spayed or neutered already as well. All these procedures have basic costs, which have been paid for by their previous owners, and it means that the costs of cat ownership are lowered by a lot for new owners. Your new cat needs to be registered and examined by a veterinarian where you can pass along all the information about her or him from the previous owner and/or shelter where you obtained ownership and you can ask questions about how to care for an older cat.

2. Easy Care

Speaking of care, it is a lot less work to care for an older cat than a kitten. You merely have to introduce your cat to the location of his or her litter box and you are free from the necessity of training your cat to use it. Also, you won’t need to entertain or play with an older cat as frequently as you must with a kitten since kittens require a lot of interaction. An older cat usually already knows the terms “no,” “down,” and “off,” and is more likely to come when called by name. Older cats have been socialized and are anxious to become part of a family.

3. Great With Kids

Young children have to be cautioned many times about being gentle with a kitten but often forget, or don’t really know what “gentle” means and, in some cases, don’t have the motor skills needed to be gentle “enough.” Kittens don’t understand acceptable behavior either, and they might often bite or scratch children without realizing their claws and teeth hurt, so they must learn to be gentle as well. Older cats already know how to keep their teeth and claws to themselves, have much more patience, will break free of children who hurt them rather than fight back, and will still love their little owners.

4. Great With Seniors, Too

An older cat is a great companion for an older adult. Senior cats as well as senior owners are more relaxed and move more slowly. Older cats have lower energy levels and are much less likely to do anything destructive, like trying to claw their way up the drapes or jump up on tables where there isn’t room for them. Older cats sleep a lot and enjoy households where the pace of living is slow and relaxing.

5. Great With Other Pets, Three

If you own other cats and want to introduce a new pet into your household, it is a lot easier if you choose a mature cat rather than a kitten. Kittens want to play, not only with you but also with your other pets. Kittens can create a lot of stress, especially for older cats who like their established lifestyle and routines and don’t want to deal with an energetic, playful kitten. It is also better to select an older cat that has lived in a household with other pets and has learned to live with them as well as with humans.

6. An Established Personality

When you choose a kitten as a pet, you have no idea what your pet will be like as an adult cat. Maybe your kitten will grow up to be absolutely delightful and a good companion for you, or may become an unfriendly annoyance who leaps on you from the top of the fridge or scratches your ankle from under the bed, or launches an assault on you while you’re sleeping (this is rare, though, and if present kittens will outgrow this behaviour). Former owners can describe their cat’s behaviour and staff at a shelter will know whether or not a cat gets along well with other animals and if it is friendly with people. You want to choose a cat who will be happy in your household, and you can make a more informed choice if it is an adult with an established personality.

7. Experienced and Wise

No matter how cute and sweet kittens may be, they require a lot of work to keep up with their energy. Kittens need time to learn how to use their litter boxes, not to jump up on tables and counters, not to climb up the curtains, and not to get into trouble when you leave the house. Older cats know how to use a litter box, understand how households run, don’t care if you leave them alone for most of the day, are happy on their own, are happy if you are there with them, and come when they are called.

8. Immense Love

Older cats are so grateful to be in a family household after living without an owner and/or in a shelter. It’s so easy to love a kitten at first sight, but it takes a lot of work to care for them and raise them when you have a busy schedule. An older cat needs love and gives tons of love back when they’re adopted. Any older cats who have been denied such a warm and loving environment for so long will be very happy to have found a new home and will love their new owners at once. You can count on them for devotion and to remain attached to you for the rest of their lives.

Even a senior cat can be a delightful companion. Many age-related health problems such as arthritis can be managed with good care. As long as they have the right owners, senior cats can live full and happy lives and prove to be perfect pets for many cat lovers.

There are many good reasons for adopting an older cat, even cats who have reached their senior years, and they have lots of love to give. Let your heart be your guide—as well as recommendations from animal shelter staff!

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

How to Prepare for Your Kitten’s First Veterinary Appointment

First of all, congratulations on becoming a new kitten parent! However, there is a lot that needs to be done other than providing the new kitty with lots of cuddles and playtime. There is new food to get for the kitten, new toys to provide so he or she doesn’t get bored, a new litter box to be set up…and a new veterinary appointment to book.

There is nothing to be nervous about on your part, but that may not mean the same for your kitten! They are likely still trying to adjust to all of the new sights and smells you are exposing them to on a daily basis. From a kitten’s point of view, meeting the vet can be a scary thing! However, there are ways in which you can make their first veterinary appointment a smooth one. Here are some tips.

Making the Appointment

Depending on when you adopted your new kitten, you need to bring them in to see a veterinarian within 48 hours of adoption. The standard age a kitten should be brought in is between 8 and 12 weeks old.

Though the 48 hour timeline is the usual recommended time to bring a new kitten in to the veterinary clinic, you should bring your kitten to the vet sooner if they seem ill. Signs of illness you should look out for include the following:

  • Watery eyes or tear ducts
  • Sneezing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Breathing problems

Making the appointment is easy: pick up the phone and call the vet! Your new cat’s veterinarian may ask you some questions prior to the appointment.

You will also need to provide paperwork detailing your kitten’s medical history. Kittens from animal shelters can be released after 8 weeks and it’s very likely they will already have received their first round of vaccinations. The shelter will tell you if your vet needs to provide your new kitten with a booster shot.

Before the Appointment

Before bringing your new kitten to the veterinary clinic, you need to make sure you have a secure, appropriately sized cat carrier in which your kitten can travel. Your kitten may not like the carrier at first, so you need to get them used to it. The carrier should also be big enough for when your kitten becomes fully grown.

Place the carrier on the floor and leave the door open so the kitten can sniff inside and walk in and out of it. It wouldn’t hurt to place down a small blanket or even treats inside of the carrier! That way, the kitten will associate it with something pleasant rather than fearful. Depending on the kitten itself, it may or may not even choose to sleep inside (this would be a great thing to happen! Again, you want to make sure its mode of transportation is pleasant).

Once the kitten is used to the carrier, try closing the door behind them. Then when they’re inside, lift and move the carrier into another room before letting them out and give them a treat. Repeat this until the kitten is used to the motion. Take short trips in the car with the carrier, followed by a treat so that, again, the kitten will not grow to hate their carrier.

When it’s time to leave and go to the vet clinic, talk to your kitten soothingly when they need to go into the carrier. Never raise your voice or get angry with the kitten if they still don’t like the carrier; some cats never get used to it despite our best efforts. When the kitten is inside, add a few more treats and keep talking to them as soothingly as possible before, during, and after traveling to the vet.

During the Appointment

Allow your kitten to explore the exam room when you bring them in for their appointment so that they get used to the strange, new smells and surroundings. Let them look around until it’s time for your vet to properly examine kitty.

A physical examination of the kitten should be expected at every veterinary appointment. Your vet will check the kitten’s ears for mites, their eyes for watering or crusty areas around their eyelids, and their mouth, teeth, and tongue for oral problems. They will also listen to their heartbeat to check for any murmurs and gently palpate their stomach for abnormalities. Your vet will need to take your kitten’s temperature rectally to ensure they don’t have a fever or underlying problem as well. Allow your kitten to walk around so your vet can make sure their joints and muscles are normal and that there’s nothing wrong with your kitten’s knees or mobility.

A fecal examination may be performed to ensure there are no parasites such as roundworms, hookworms or tapeworms living inside your kitten’s body; depending on their previous environment your vet may ask you to bring in a stool sample. Your kitten’s vet will also comb through their fur to ensure no fleas or eggs are present on your kitten.

If your new kitten was not spayed or neutered prior to their first veterinary appointment, now is the time to bring it up. Spaying or neutering cats is helpful in preventing them from contributing to the over population of cats. It will also discourage certain behaviours such as spraying if done at the correct time. A follow-up appointment may be required if your new kitten is in fact not spayed or neutered; again, talk to your veterinarian about this.

Vaccinations for your kitten will be provided usually when they are around 8 weeks of age, with boosters at ages 12 and 16 weeks. Feline distemper (FVRCPC) is a typical vaccination for your kitten to receive during their first veterinary appointment. Your veterinarian will discuss with you if it’s necessary to provide vaccinations against FELV (feline leukemia) and rabies based on your kitten’s new lifestyle.

After the Appointment

Never hesitate to ask your vet any questions that were not covered during the appointment! The more they know about your kitten, the better they can help them lead a happy and healthy life.

If your kitten is given a clean bill of health from your vet and their required vaccines are all up to date, you’ll be advised to do a follow-up exam next year and then be sent home.

Once the kitten is brought back into your home, be sure to give them cuddles, treats, and playtime! Enjoy being with your new kitten!

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

8 Ways to Prepare Your Home for a New Dog’s Arrival

Are you planning on bringing home a new dog? Adopting a new pet is one of life’s greatest joys, but it can also be a challenging experience. Your pooch may be understandably nervous when meeting your family and while adjusting to a new home and surroundings. By carefully planning and following a few basic steps, you can ensure your new pet is safe, healthy, and happy, both when the big day arrives and for years to come.

1. Find Ideal Spots in Your Home

Your new dog will be excited or anxious coming to a new home, so expect a few accidents to occur, perhaps for a few days. Choose areas that are easy to clean for your new pet’s bed, water and food dishes, and playtime areas. Scatter newspapers around for a few days to make “accident cleanup” easier.

Use baby gates to close off areas where you don’t want your dog to go. That way you have a chance to teach your pooch which rooms you would like to keep off limits.

2. Check for Danger Zones and Products

Inspect the areas and closets where you keep shoes, dirty clothes, and any makeup or personal care products that could be within your dog’s reach. Put things up high, store them in drawers, or put them behind doors fastened with ties to make sure your pet doesn’t have access to them. Some dogs love to chew on personal items and are attracted to anything with an interesting smell.

If you have a fireplace, make sure it is blocked by a screen or a grate. You may need to make the room where the fireplace is located off limits to your new dog if they get too curious.

Keep all of your cleaning products, chemicals, tools, plastic bags, sharp objects, and matches out of reach or in cabinets/closets that can’t be opened by a curious pup.

Remove small objects from tables that can be reached by your pet. The last thing you want to find is a sick dog that decided to chew on or swallow them, or knock them off and break them!

Keep valuable objects such as expensive vases and table lamps, as well as frequently used items such as cell phones, iPads, and remote controls out of reach.

If you store food on low shelves or keep munchies out on tables, be sure to remove them. Keep in mind that many foods for humans are poisonous for dogs, such as grapes and chocolate. Use safety latches on low cupboards to make sure your pet can’t reach your food or any garbage cans.

Remove plants from the floor, or put them behind furniture so your dog is not tempted to chew on the leaves or flowers. A few house plants that are toxic to pets include lilies, azaleas, irises, sago palm, and daffodils.

3. Hide Electrical Cords and Wires

Bundle cords and wires together and hide them safely behind furniture where your dog can’t reach and chew on them. If you can’t hide dangerous wires and cords, tape them against walls or furniture.

Don’t charge your phone or iPad in outlets that are on or near the floor, and don’t leave plug-ins dangling from outlets where your pet can reach them.

4. Take Precautions for Older Dogs

If you’re looking to adopt an older dog, please be aware of any mobility problems they may have. You also need to be aware that bare floors can be difficult for them. Keep your new senior dog out of rooms with hard, slippery floors, such as the kitchen and bathrooms, and keep them comfortable with carpets or rugs that are secured and won’t slide. If all of your floors are hard, consider buying booties with secure, rubberized soles made specifically for a senior pet.

If an older dog has trouble using the stairs without help, use baby gates to block them off, or invest in pet stairs, or a ramp. You may need a ramp to help an older dog climb into your car too. Raised feeders and heated beds are also great for senior dogs.

5. Purchase Food to Welcome Home Your New Pet

Purchase dog food, preferably a type appropriate for your dog’s age and veterinarian approved. Have a box of treats on hand; they are useful when training a dog, and some treats can even help keep your dog’s teeth clean.

Find out what your pet has been eating before introducing the food you want to provide. If there is a particular food to which your new dog is accustomed to, it is wise to keep offering it while introducing new foods. Gradually increase the amounts of the new food over a few days or weeks.

Make sure you are familiar with your pet’s normal eating schedule. You can adjust it over time to work with your own schedule and the feeding routine recommended by your veterinarian.

6. Purchase Items for Both Indoor and Outdoor Living

Have a collar and an ID tag purchased for the trip home when you go to collect your new dog.

A leash is essential no matter where you may live. You will occasionally have to take your pet with you in and out of a vehicle and having your dog on a leash and trained to heel will be a lifesaver in busy areas.

Have a comfy bed for your new pet, which should be chosen according to the dog’s size.

Be sure to invest in a pet carrier or crate because you may need one for travelling time to time. Be sure it’s a regulation carrier because homemade carriers are not as secure.

Purchase separate bowls for food and water each, keeping your dog’s size in mind. Metal bowls are easier to clean and a mat to place under them is a good idea as some dogs are pretty messy eaters! It is very nice to have a portable water-bottle-and-dish-combination, as well, for walking and hiking.

Have a brush and comb on hand, as well as shampoo, a toothbrush, and toothpaste specially made for dogs—toothpaste made for humans isn’t safe. The earlier pets are introduced to these care products, the faster they adjust to them and the healthier they will be.

You will certainly want to have a few toys for your new dog. Get toys your dog can safely chew on and are fun to play with for you as well!

7. Equip Your Home with Special Cleaning Items

You need to have appropriate cleaning products when you have a dog in the house, including an odor neutralizer. Whether you plan to allow your dog up on the furniture or not, he or she may decide to climb up on the bed or sofa and leave behind their own scent. It is a good idea to assume an accident might happen as well, so make sure your home is equipped with stain removers and repellants as well as paper towels.

Purchase a “pooper scooper” and plastic bags to take with you on walks or hikes. That way you can pick up your dog’s waste and dispose of it properly.

8. Post Lists as Reminders for Everyone

Talk to your veterinarian and set up an appointment before you collect your new dog, especially if there will be no veterinarian inspection first (normally there is a checkup at pet shelters before animals are released to new owners).

Post your veterinarian’s phone number and other emergency numbers—animal poison control, after-hours emergency care, etc.—in a place where everyone in the family as well as dog sitters or dog walkers can find them easily. Program these essential numbers into your phone, too.

Post “training words” as reminders to yourself, as well as for your family and visitors. For example, “down” is the usual word to use for dogs when you want them to stop jumping up on people, and “off” is the usual one to use when you want them to get off furniture. It is easy to see how dogs can receive conflicting messages if the word “off” is sometimes used in reference to jumping on people and “down” is used to instruct them to get down from furniture. It takes longer to train an animal if different instruction or “training words” are used.

Stay one step ahead of your new pet at all times, and remember to do a quick scan of areas to make sure nothing unsafe or hazardous has been left lying around. Also make sure that drawers and doors are securely closed when you leave a room.

With a little effort, you can have your home prepared for your new dog’s safety, well-being, and happiness. You can develop the habit of keeping it that way, which will ensure your happiness and peace of mind, too!

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