Puppy/Kitten Care

puppy an kitten looking at camera

One of the first things you should do when you bring your new pet home is to introduce him or her to us – your veterinary care team. Puppy and kitten visits offer a unique opportunity to get you and your new pet off on the right foot! Your puppy or kitten visit will include a full “nose-to-tail” physical examination. We will look for any signs of illness and make sure that your new pet is in good health, and get started on the road to a happy and healthy life. Let’s take these important first steps together.


From the first day you bring a new pet home through the final days of its life, nutrition plays a critical role in your pet’s overall health and well-being. It can be easy for a pet owner to become overwhelmed by the available selection of pet foods, all of which claim to have specific benefits for pets. Let our nutritional counseling service help you achieve and maintain optimal nutrition for your pet.


What about tips for introducing your new pet to other pets and family members? Even if you are a very experienced pet owner and have had puppies or kittens before, each pet is unique and offers an opportunity to learn something new! We welcome your questions and look forward to addressing any concerns you may have. The more educated you are about your pet, the better you will be able to care for him or her, so we strive to offer you all the support you need.


Puppy and kitten are at risk of exposure to various infectious diseases, some of which are life threatening. Preventive vaccination is one of the most reliable and cost effective methods of health care available to a pet owner. Your pet does not have to come into contact with another animal to become infected. For this reason we recommend vaccines, which are important and appropriate for pets.

Intestinal Parasite Detection

In general puppies and kitten have some common intestinal parasites, we recommend intestinal parasites screen for all newly adopted puppies and kittens and then every six month thereafter.


Even though your puppy or kitten doesn’t have intestinal parasites on the fecal examination, we recommend deworming against common parasites at least 3 times in the first year.

Flea/Tick & Heartworm Prevention

There is a variety of options available for flea/tick and heartworm preventives for your pet. Our veterinarians will be happy to discuss the different options and which one might be best for your pet.

Home Dental Care

The mouth is considered the gateway of the body. Bad teeth not only lead to dental diseases (tartar, gingivitis, periodontal diseases), but also affect internal organ systems, especially the kidneys and heart.Even though your pet is very young and have all “baby teeth” introducing home dental care will help train your puppy or kitten for later time when they would have adult teeth. Ask us about the best ways to control plaque and help protect your pet from dental disease.


With your new puppy or kitten, you have a great opportunity to make grooming into a pleasant experience for both of you. Puppy and kitten don’t just automatically hate pedicure, ear cleaning, and baths they’re nervous and not used to being handled that way. It’s only after a negative experience, like being held down or punished for struggling, that they begin to associate grooming with discomfort. You can avoid this negative association by starting when your pet is young and allowing her to adjust gradually to the grooming process. You can make grooming fun, with lots of petting, praise, and treats. Eventually, the time you spend brushing, washing, and handling your pet may become enjoyable to both of you, allowing you to bond in a relaxed atmosphere.


Micro-chipping is a safe, effective way to help ensure your pet’s return if the unthinkable happens. Each year, thousands of pets go missing, and many don’t make it back home. Many pets (especially indoor pets) don’t wear collars or tags. Even if your pet wears a collar and identification tag, collars can break off and tags can become damaged and unreadable, so these forms of identification may not be enough to ensure your pet’s safe return. Microchip implantation takes only a few minutes and is very safe. Ask us about micro-chipping your pet today!

dog sleepingHypoglycemia, which is a low blood glucose level, is a life threatening condition, especially common in small/toy or medium breeds of puppies and kittens.

What causes it?

By skipping even one meal, your puppy or kitten could fall victim to hypoglycemia. Other conditions that could speed up the onset of hypoglycemia are stress, change in diet, infections, poor nutrition, and low body temperature- to name few.

What to look for?

Your puppy may show signs of laziness, lethargy, shivering, non-responsiveness, stumbling, and worst of all, comatose.

What to do if you suspect hypoglycemia?

We encourage a pre-emptive strategy to keep your puppy or kitten from this life threatening, yet treatable and avoidable, condition. Keep handy a high calorie paste to be used to elevate your pet’s glucose level. Please ask Family Pet Hospital’s team for more info or to help with picking out the right product.

white puppy getting vaccinePuppies may run a fever, become sore, or have muscle aches (like your arm after a flu shot) after receiving vaccinations.

What to look for?

(i) Mild signs. Puppies may become grouchy and nippy. They may lay around, or complain when you touch sore muscles. These side effects are common and usually run their course within 24-48 hours.

(ii) Severe signs. Vaccines, though very safe, may rarely cause local adverse reactions like swelling around the eyes, face, lips, and hives on the body or life-threatening conditions of collapsing/ shock.

What to do if you suspect vaccine associated soreness or reaction?

We strongly recommend preemptive use of Benadryl (diphenhydramine) before and/or after any vaccine shots are given. This strategy has been proven to be very effective against vaccine associated soreness and reactions. In the event your pet is excessively lethargic, call Family Pet Hospital immediately to determine whether your pet needs further treatment.

Preparing your home for the arrival of a new puppy/kitten is important for the safety of your new family member. Keep your puppy’s perspective in mind – your new family member is only a few inches off the ground.

Physical hazards: Furniture/stair/electrical wires are the most important ones- falling may cause trauma or chewing on wires may pose electrocution.

Ingestion hazards: Trash can, clothes (undergarments, socks, nylon, or pantyhose), fish hooks, fishing equipment, needles, coins, office supplies, rubber bands, hair ties, kids’ toys, especially stuffed animals- not all toys are safe for every puppy, and cat litter boxes.

Chemical hazards Indoors: Household cleaners, toilet bowl sanitizers, paints, varnishes, drain openers, batteries, car anti-freeze (ethylene glycol will cause death even if a small amount is ingested).

Outdoors: Herbicides, pool water/chemicals, certain mulches, and lawn fertilizers, cigarettes (including the butts).

dog eating shoe

Table scraps: Chocolate, grapes and raisins, any human food.

Medications: Any medications that you may have at home, child proof containers can easily be chewed through, vitamins and supplements in excess.

Insect and other critters: Insect bites/stings, ingesting rats or snails that were poisoned with rat or snail bait.

Holiday hazards: Tinsel, ornaments, tree water, climbing trees, decorations, candles, and extra candy around the home.

What to look for: Decreased appetite, increased water consumption, excessive salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, skin redness, seizures, limping, crying, or any other sign that your pet is not acting like herself.

What to do if you suspect your pet may have ingested an abnormal substance?

Call Family Pet Hospital immediately.


There is specific information that you will need to provide to us if you do think that your pet has gotten into something poisonous: Any packaging that lists active and inactive ingredients in the suspected products. When was the incident occurred? How much of the item your pet could have gotten into. If you have questions about items in your house or the health of your pet please contact us. For after-hours care call 1-888-426-4435 to begin a consult with the ASPCA or call local ER.

Ear infection and/or mites are very common in puppies/kittens, and such pets are noticeably unhappy.

What causes it?

Conditions conducive for ear infection are high humidity, high ambient temperature, hair in the ear canals, and anatomy of ear – floppy ear breeds are more prone to such infections. Moisture trapped in the ear canal and a warm moist environment creates favorable conditions for bacteria and yeast fungus to grow rapidly.

What to look for?

Excessive ear scratching, rubbing or head shaking, head tilting, redness/ swelling in the inner ear flap or canal of the ear, and unusual ear smell.

What to do if your puppy has ear infection?

dog getting ear checked

If suspected, your pet may need an “ear swab test” to diagnose the cause of the infection and to appropriately treat the ears.

Pre-emptive Guard against ear infection.

Plucking hair and cleaning your puppy’s ear on regular basis.
Avoid getting water into your puppy’s ears when bathing or cleaning after any bathing and swimming.
Check your puppy/Kitten’s ears at least once a week for wax buildup or debris, especially if he plays outdoors in windy conditions.
Discuss with Family Pet Hospital’s team how you can keep your puppy’s ear healthy.

The road to good quality of life, great health, and longevity of your puppy/kitten starts now with good oral hygiene. Small/toy/medium sized breeds are more susceptible to contract oral diseases as early as 9 months of age.

Why is Oral Hygiene Important?

“Prevention is better than cure”. Poor dental hygiene in pets can cause problems such as inflammation of the gums, periodontal disease (where support structures of teeth are chewed up), abscesses, tooth loss, and infections. Also, bacteria from the mouth can get into the pet’s blood stream and affect certain organs such as the liver, kidneys, and the heart.

What to look for?

dogs with toothbrush

Halitosis, aka bad breath, and tartar, or calculus, are easy to spot. Oral ailments can be detected by changes in the gums- redness, bleeding, recession etc.

Pre-emptive is the way to go

Get your pet trained for dental brushing.
Use dental chews or water additive
Get professional teeth cleaning at least once a year.

As you’ve probably already figured out, puppy motion sickness is real and it can make even the shortest trips stressful for you and your pooch.

What to look for?

dog in car

Inactivity, listlessness, uneasiness, yawning, whining, excessive drooling, and vomiting.

What to do if your pet has motion sickness:

The best way to prevent travel sickness is to make the car ride as comfortable as possible for your puppy.

Tips to alleviate or prevent motion sickness:

  • Face your puppy forward while you’re traveling – your puppy will experience fewer nauseating visual cues.
  • Lowering your car windows a couple of inches while the car is moving. This helps balance the air pressure inside the car with the air pressure outside. Also, be sure to keep the car cool and well ventilated, as a hot or stuffy vehicle can contribute to unpleasant sensations for your puppy.
  • Limiting your puppy’s food consumption prior to travel.

Stress Alleviating Tips:

  • Gradually build your puppy’s tolerance to car trips; start by approaching the car, then spending some time in the car with the engine off. When your dog is ready, take short trips (around the block, for example) to build tolerance before progressing to longer car rides. Use treats to make the car a fun place for your dog (but be careful that you don’t give too many and make your dog nauseated).
  • Take a break from car trips for a week or two or change cars etc.

Healthy skin for your puppy/kitten is a natural guard against skin diseases.

What causes it?

Several factors can make your pet’s skin dry – low production of natural lubricant, low quality diet, excessive bathing, inappropriate bathing products, low humidity etc.

What to look for?

Pets often have dry skin, which is indicated by dandruff flakes, scratching, hair loss, redness, or pustules under the belly and on the inner thighs.

What to do if my pet has dry skin?

dog with flaky skin

First, brush your pet every day. This will spread the natural oils out over the entire coat, and will also help your puppy get used to being groomed.

Second, use a mild shampoo, such as an oatmeal-based product, and moisturizing rinse after you’ve washed the shampoo out of the puppy’s hair. After you bathe your puppy, be sure to dry him very well, and then brush his coat.

How often should I bathe my puppy?

In general, fewer baths are better- “more bathing does more harm than good”. No matter how gentle any shampoo could be, it may strip the skin of its natural oil. Your puppy/kitten may need more bathes while not completely house broken. Once potty trained we recommend bathing every 2-3 months based on the breed and life style of your puppy. Alternatively, puppy wipes or a mousse, in lieu of full bathes, may be beneficial.

What if nothing works?

If you’ve followed these suggestions and your pet’s skin is still very dry, or he starts losing a lot of hair, he may have allergies or a parasitic infestation such as lice, mange, or fleas. Skin nutritional supplements containing Omega Vitamin E will help rejuvenate your pet’s skin. Ask Family Pet Hospital’s team for help determining what’s causing the problem and about what treatments are available.

  1. Nutri-Plus Gel– a calorie dense paste to keep your pet from hypoglycemia (low blood glucose level).
  2. Benadryl Syrup- a Pre-emptive tool against vaccine associated muscle ache and/ or reaction & motion sickness.
  3. Ear Cleansing Solution- irritant free solution to keep your pet’s ears healthy.
  4. Mousse/Shampoo– to keep your pet’s skin healthy.
  5. Dental Training Kit- for dental brush training of your puppy and oral hygiene.
  6. Skin Supplement– to help rejuvenate dry/flaky skin.