Puppies and Kittens Health Care Programme
Puppies and kittens inherit a natural immunity from their mother that protects them from birth until about 6 weeks of age. After 6 weeks, your pet depends on you to continue that protection until their own immune system is fully developed. Making sure your animals are wormed and vaccinated against common diseases is an important part of owning pets, it can save their lives from these potentially fatal diseases.
What are Vaccines?
Vaccines are health products that trigger protective immune responses in pets and prepare them to fight future infections from disease-causing agents. Vaccines can lessen the severity of future diseases and certain vaccines can prevent infection altogether. Today, a variety of vaccines are available for use by veterinarians
Vaccines recommended by vets
Canine distemper: a viral disease that is often fatal in puppies. It is characterized by respiratory distress, coughing and seizures and is highly contagious.
Canine hepatitis (adenovirus): a viral disease spread through urine. It causes respiratory and liver problems.
Parainfluenza: a respiratory infection that is often involved with kennel cough.
Canine parvovirus: a severe intestinal viral disease characterized by vomiting and bloody diarrhea. It is often fatal and highly contagious.
Bordetella: known as kennel cough or tracheobronchitis. It is highly contagious and often difficult to treat. Recommended for puppies with high exposure to other animals, being boarded, or going to dog shows or obedience school.
Rabies: a deadly viral disease in dogs and cats including all mammalian speices and most commonly transmitted through the bite of rabid animal.
Feline panleukopenia: characterized by fever, poor appetite, vomiting and diarrhea. This may cause death.
Feline viral rhinotracheitis: highly contagious respiratory disease and is characterized by sneezing, fever and inflamed eyes.
Feline calicivirus: highly contagious respiratory disease similar to rhinotracheitis.
How often should pets be revaccinated?
Veterinarians have traditionally vaccinated annually; however, they are now learning that some vaccines induce immunity that lasts less than one year, whereas others may induce immunity that lasts well beyond one year.
Puppies: (for DHLPP)
Starts at 6 weeks old and 2 booster shots at 3 weeks interval. Adult dogs are recommended an annual booster shot.
Kittens: (for FCVRP) Vaccination commences at 8 weeks old to be followed by 2 booster shots at 3 – 4 weeks interval.
Worming your puppy or kitten is another important step to raising a healthy pet. Puppies and kittens have the potential to be born with intestinal parasites and have the ability to pick them up in their environment as well. The most common types of worms seen in dogs and cats are Tape Worms, Roundworms, Hookworms and Whipworms. It is even possible for our furry little friends to transmit their intestinal parasites to humans. A proper worming protocol is the best way to protect our pets and ourselves from infestation.
A worm treatment for cats targets different worms than a wormer for dogs. While dogs need to be treated for tapeworms and nematodes, worming for cats aims at tape- and roundworms.
Four different types of worms commonly seen in dogs and cats:
Roundworms: Long and white and look like spaghetti, their eggs cannot be seen with the naked eye. Symptoms: Pot belly appearance, diarrhoea, vomiting and weight loss. They also can be transferred to humans, especially in children.
Tapeworms: Segments are white, short and flat and look like rice grains. They can be spread by fleas. Symptoms: Abdominal pain, anal irritation, vomiting, weight loss. Some dog tapeworm can be passed onto sheep and can result in ‘sheep measles’, a carcass defect that is found at slaughter and is a significant cause of downgrading at abattoirs.
Hookworms: Cannot be seen with the naked eye. Symptoms: Bloody faeces, diarrhoea, low energy, can be transmitted to humans.
Whipworms: Cannot be seen with the naked eye. Symptoms: Weight loss, flatulence (wind), bloody diarrhoea, low energy.
How do pets get infected with worms?
Consumption of infective worm eggs from soil in the environment (generally through normal grooming)
Consumption of a prey animal (usually rodent) that is carrying developing worms
During embryonic development when an infected mother dog/cat is pregnant (most puppies are infected this way)
Nursing from an infected mother dog/cat
Starts at 2 weeks of age and every two weeks until 12 weeks old
3 months – 6 months old: worm once a month
All dogs from 6 months of age: worm every 3 months
2 weeks – 3 months old: worm every 2 weeks
3 months – 6 months old: worm once a month
Kittens/cats 6 months+: worm every 3 months
After that, worming your pet 4 times a year is sufficient but monthly worming is a gold standard!
Flea and Ticks
Fleas and ticks can cause many medical problems, ranging from anaemia due to blood loss from multiple bites, to severe skin problems on animals allergic to fleas, to diseases that are transmitted by these vectors of disease. Because of their importance in causing these problems, fleas and ticks should be addressed when they are found on our companion animals.
Preventive dose for fleas and ticks are usually given to pups and kittens at 8 weeks old or earlier, using commercial products such as Frontline, Advantage etc., and a monthly follow ups depending on the severity of infestation.
Life Cycle of a Flea
Diet: Dry food are more economical to feed and more convenient in that dry food can be made available at all
times with little alterations in texture and, in dogs, palatability. Dry foods are less palatable to cats. Dry food may also provide beneficial massage of the teeth and gums to help decrease periodontal disease. Canned food is more expensive and palatable but should be fed as a meal to maintain freshness. While odour, consistency, taste and learned dietary habits determine which foods a dog will eat, most dogs are indiscriminate eaters. Finicky, begging dogs have learned such behaviours. Likewise, odour, consistency, taste, and learned dietary habits determine which foods a cat prefers, but how much a cat will eat is affected by such things as noises, lights, food containers, the presence or absence of man or other animals (including other cats), physiologic state, and disease. Cats can and will refuse to eat to the point of starving themselves. These cats usually develop hepatic lipidosis, which can be fatal if not treated early and aggressively. Some dogs and cats have adequate appetite controls and will maintain an optimal body condition, even with dietary changes. However, some dogs and cats overeat, consume excessive calories, and become obese. The thickness of the fat layer over the rib cage and pelvic bones is a good indicator of obesity. Normally, the ribs and hip bones should be easily felt but not seen; these cannot be easily palpated in an obese animal. A pendulous abdomen, a waddling gait, and sluggish behaviour are also seen in some obese animals.
Monitoring: Feeding methods for growing puppies should be individualized for the puppy and the owner. General recommendations are that puppies between weaning and 6 months of age should be feed three times a day; puppies 6-12 mo old should be fed twice daily.
Growing kittens should be feed ad lib or several times a day to meet their daily needs.
Feed should be selected for the stage-of-life (puppy/kitten) and/or based on the anticipated adult body weight (especially in pups).
Feeding a complete balanced diet with fresh water is all most puppies and kittens need to stay nutritionally healthy.
A commercial puppy or kitten food is the most convenient method of ensuring a proper and balanced diet.