Recommendations for new Owners
We would like to congratulate you on the acquisition of your new puppy or kitten. Owning a pet can be an extremely rewarding experience, but it also carries with it some responsibility. We hope these notes will give you some help. If you have questions concerning any subject related to your puppy’s health, please do not hesitate to telephone us.
For a Concise Summary of your new pet care please see our Sections on AMS Puppy Recommendations & AMS Kitten Recommendations in General Pet Care which can be printed for your convenience & brought with you to the hospital on your first visit
Promotions For New Pet Owners
If you have recently become a new pet owner, Congratulations!
We want you to get off on the right track with the new addition to your family.
At AMS we offer free kitten & puppy health checks*
AMS also runs puppy schools* to assist in training & socializing your new puppy
* for pets less than 6 months of age. Please call our hospitals for details.
Free health checks for kittens & puppies*
There is so much to know about your new friend when you bring them home for the first time.
Let us help with a free health check.
Starting Off On The Right Paw
This provides a veterinary consultation where you can discuss a list of topics including:
- • diet & nutrition
- • vaccination
- • flea & tick prevention
- • worming
- • micro-chipping
- • dental health
- • insurance
- • training and behaviour.
* For pets less than 6 months of age. Please call our hospitals for details.
Promotions – Puppy Parties*
At AMS we want you to have a happy, healthy puppy that is well socialised.
Well socialised and trained dogs can be taken anywhere, are friendly with new people and are well-behaved at home.
Our Puppy School* offers a safe, pleasant environment so that your pup learns how to behave with other dogs, people and children.
The Gentle Way to Learn
We use positive reinforcement training which involves food, toys and praise to teach basic manners such as ‘sit’, ‘drop’, ‘stay’, ‘stand’, ‘lead walk’, ‘come’, ‘heel’ etc.
Training will allow a dog to become a well-balanced member of the family. Once trained a pet dog will often become much more pleasant & can really be enjoyed. You can be more relaxed when you have friends or family around & be more confident when taking your dog on outings to the park, or picnics as well as other social gatherings
Many dog behaviours, such as barking and chewing, may be unwanted but they are also natural dog behaviours. At puppy school these behaviours will be explained so you can understand why a dog acts in a certain way. Once you understand the behaviour you can learn how undesirable actions can be controlled and minimised.
The socialisation period for dogs is between 4 and 12 weeks of age. During that time, the puppy is very impressionable to social influences. If it has good experiences with men, women, children, cats, other dogs, etc., it is likely to accept them throughout life. If the experiences are absent or unpleasant, it may become apprehensive or adverse to any of them. Therefore, during the period of socialisation, we encourage you to expose your dog to as many types of social events and influences as possible.
However since the puppy will not have built up a complete immunity from the vaccination programme until approximately 14 weeks of age you have the dilemma of endeavouring to socialise him on the one hand and trying to isolate him from exposure to potentially harmful diseases on the other. The aim is to strike a balance and obviously not expose him to the risk of disease but at the same time ensure that as much socialisation as possible, both with people and other animals takes place.
AMS puppy classes* where all pups are up to date with their current vaccination courses offer a safe learning environment for your pet
* At selected locations
When should my puppy or kitten be vaccinated?
There are many diseases that are severely debilitating and even fatal to cats & dogs. Fortunately, we have the ability to prevent many of these by the use of very effective vaccines.
In order to be effective, these vaccines must be given as a series of injections. Ideally, they are given at between approximately 6 and 12 weeks of age and cover a variety of viral diseases. In areas of high infection your Veterinary surgeon may advise a further injection at approximately 16 weeks of age.
Why does my puppy or kitten need more than one vaccination?
When the puppy or kitten is suckling from its mother, it receives a temporary form of immunity through the mother’s milk. This immunity is in the form of proteins called antibodies. For about 24-48 hours after birth, the puppy’s intestine allows absorption of many of these antibodies directly into the blood stream. Later during suckling further antibodies are transferred via the milk although not in such great quantities. This immunity is of benefit during the first few weeks of the pets life, but, at some point, this immunity falls and the pet must organise its own long-lasting protection. Vaccinations are used for this purpose. As long as the mother’s antibodies are present, vaccinations do not have such a good chance to stimulate the immune system. The mother’s antibodies interfere by neutralising the vaccine.
Many factors determine when the puppy or kitten will be able to respond to the vaccinations. These include the level of immunity in the mother, how much antibody has been absorbed, and the number of vaccines given to the pet. Since we do not know when an individual puppy or kitten will lose the short-term immunity, we give a series of vaccinations. A single vaccination, even if effective, is not likely to stimulate sufficient long-term immunity which is so important for protection.
Do all puppies & kittens have worms?
Intestinal parasites are common in puppies & kittens. They can become infected with parasites before they are born or later through their mother’s milk. The microscopic examination of a faeces sample will usually help us to determine the presence of intestinal parasites.
Preventing and Treating Worms
Modern deworming preparations are safe and effective and we recommend their use at two week intervals, from two weeks of age. It is important that the medication is repeated since it is usually only the adult worms that are killed. Within 3-4 weeks, the larval stages will have matured and will need to be treated.
What causes heartworm disease?
Heartworm disease (dirofilariasis) is a serious and potentially fatal disease in dogs & cats in many parts of the world. It is caused by a worm called Dirofilaria immitis.
How do dogs get heartworm?
Adult heartworms live in the heart and pulmonary arteries of infected dogs & cats. They are transmitted by Mosquitoes so potentially every dog is at risk heartworms. Even long haired cats & dogs can become infected.
How do dogs get infected with them?
The disease is not spread directly from pet to pet. An intermediate host, the mosquito, is required for transmission.
What do heartworms do to the dog?
Adult worms cause disease by clogging the heart and major blood vessels leading from the heart. They interfere with the valve action in the heart
Feeding & Dental Care
There are lots of choices of foods.
What should I feed my puppy or kitten?
Diet is extremely important in the growing months of a pets life, and there are two important criteria that should be met in selecting food for your puppy or kitten.
1. The diet should be nutritionally adequate for puppies & kittens.
2. The diet should have physical qualities (texture, abrasiveness) that will help control plaque and maintain oral health.
Flea & Tick Control
What can be done about fleas and ticks on my puppy or kitten?
Many effective flea control preparations for use on adult pets are not suitable for use on puppies & kittens, therefore it is worthwhile consulting your Veterinary surgeon regarding flea control in the young animal.
It must be emphasised that flea control in the puppy & kitten is equally as important as with the older pet and must be coupled with the control of fleas in the environment.
Flea & Tick Control Products
Today there are new, innovative products which are eminently suitable for use on even very tiny pets.
Some products available may not provide the protection or safety that you desire and at AMS all our products are highly recommended by our Veterinarians for their efficacy & suitability
Can I trim my puppy’s & kittens sharp toe nails?
Puppies & kittens have very sharp toe nails. They can be blunted and shortened using an emery board or a piece of carpenter’s fine sandpaper. They can also be trimmed with nail scissors or with clippers made for dogs and cats.
However if you remove too much nail, you will cut the quick and cause bleeding and pain. Clear or light coloured nails it is possible to see the quick as a pink line running through the nail. With black nails this is more difficult and therefore these should be trimmed very carefully. It is useful to have a men’s shaving styptic pencil available so that if you inadvertently cut the quick you can stop the bleeding without causing pain or discomfort. If in doubt, please consult us and we will show you exactly how to trim the nails.
Below is aummary on desexing your pet. Deseing offers a much healthier & happier life for most pets & is highly reommnded by AMS
For more detailed information see the sections on Desexing in Cats & Desexing In Dogs under General Pet Care on this website
Why should I have my female dog or cats spayed?
Spaying (desexing) offers several advantages. The female’s heat periods can be quite annoying if your dog is kept indoors. During this period she is attractive to any neighbourhood males and these can sometimes cause considerable nuisance. Spaying is the removal of uterus and ovaries. Heat periods no longer occur and thus unplanned litters of puppies are prevented.
Medical Benefits for females
It has been proven that as the female dog or cat gets older, there is a significant incidence of breast cancer and uterine infections if she has not been spayed. Spaying before she has any heat periods will prevent these problems. If you do not plan to breed from your dog, we strongly recommend that she be spayed just before her first oestrus.
Why should I have my male dog or cat desexed?
Desexing offers several advantages. Males are attracted to a females in heat and will climb over or go through fences to find her. Male dogs are more aggressive and more likely to fight, especially with other male dogs.
Medical Benefits for Males
As pets age, especially in dogs, the prostate gland frequently enlarges and causes difficulty urinating and defecating. Desexing will solve, or greatly help, all of these problems. The surgery can be performed any time after the dog or cat is 6 months old. It is worth remembering that all service dogs, Guide Dogs, Hearing Dogs and Dogs for the Disabled, both male and female, are routinely desexed.
What type of playing should I expect from a puppy or kitten?
Stimulating play is important during the first week. Stalking and pouncing are important play behaviour in puppies & kittens and are necessary for proper muscular development. If given a sufficient outlet for these behaviour with toys, your puppy& kitten will be less likely to use family members for these activities. The best toys are lightweight and movable. These include wads of paper and rubber balls. Any toy that is small enough to be swallowed should be avoided.
Can I discipline a puppy or kitten?
Disciplining a young puppy & kitten may be necessary if its behaviour threatens people or property, but harsh punishment should be avoided.
Remember a puppy or kitten will learn a lot faster through the use of positive re-enforcement & praise rather than negative punishments. At AMS we always feel the gentle & tender approach is best at creating a well-behaved, well-balanced pet
Hand clapping and using shaker cans or horns can be intimidating enough to inhibit undesirable behaviour. Some forms of remote punishment can be used, usually as a last resort. Remote punishment consists of using something that appears unconnected to the punisher to stop the problem. Examples include using spray bottles, throwing objects in the direction of the puppy & kitten to startle (but not hit) it, and making loud noises. Remote punishment is preferred because the puppy or kitten associates punishment with the undesirable act and not with you.
Training your puppy
Responsible ownership involves having a well-trained dog and this training should be commenced as soon as the puppy is acquired. Puppies are continuously learning from the moment their eyes are open and responsible breeders will ensure that the elements of training have commenced long before you acquire the puppy at 6-8 weeks of age. Remember training is not some formal process but should occur all the time we are together with a dog.
Training and socialisation are intermixed, a well socialised dog is invariably a well trained dog and vice versa. Thus puppies should be socialised. They should be handled by family members and strangers as soon as possible and then be introduced to other dogs, preferably to puppies, as soon as their inoculation programme allows. Some of our Veterinary practices today run puppy classes in order to initiate training and ensure adequate socialisation takes place. Enquire from your Veterinary surgeons.
Basic training of a puppy is not a very difficult task provided certain simple rules are followed:-
- 1. Keep the tasks simple and only go one step at a time.
- 2. Teach sounds and words as commands and not sentences
- 3. When trying to programme the puppy to respond to your command, avoid distractions and competing activities, for example you will never get your puppy to learn to walk round the garden on a collar and lead if Aunt Emma is playing ball with her mother in another part of the garden.
- 4. Be effusive with your praise and don’t be afraid to use food rewards.
- 5. Ignore failures and certainly do not punish the puppy, and finally.
- 6. Be consistent and this applies to all members of the family.
Local training clubs or puppy pre-schools are an ideal way of ensuring socialisation and dog and owner participation in basic training methods. Other means of training available involve one to one methods, ideally involving both owner and dog with a trainer or sometimes sending the dog away to be trained.
For a safe, fun & rewarding way to train your puppy see the section on Puppy Schools offered at AMS