A New Christmas Pet
This time between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day is pretty laid back.
If pets stayed out of the turkey, dressing, giblet gravy and cranberries then there’s only a small chance that we will see them this week.
One kind of “case” though, that does show up is the new Christmas puppy. “Beaux” made his debut at our office today, and it turned out he belongs to the FedEx driver who services our home! His two young boys in tow, we had to talk all around where the Golden Retriever puppy came from (Santa), how long they’ve had the puppy (since Christmas Eve night), whether the youngest son was really asleep when Santa came (“actually I was pretending to be asleep”).
This was the visit to discuss neuter surgery for Beaux, then one of the boys asked, “Dr. Randolph, what’s neuter?”
It was my turn to dodge, so I just said, “It’s surgery,” and left it at that.
New puppies and kittens are a great joy. Especially when one sees a child’s eyes light up at that first realization of what’s peering back at him from under the tree.
A few precautions are in order when a new four-legged youngster comes to dwell in your home:
- It is a transition time for the new pet, so give him plenty of time to himself so he can rest and recoup the energy he’s expending to grow, play, digest and, yes, adapt to his new home.
- Feed the pet food he was eating at his former location. Even if you plan to switch to Hill’s Science Diet later, make the transition easier by not changing foods right away. When you do, take about ten days to introduce the new food slowly by making the first day’s meals be 1/10th new food, 9/10ths old food and so on until the transition is complete on day ten.
- Keep plenty of clean, fresh water available and take the new pet to it frequently. Doing so will help to prevent dehydration, a silent killer of young pets.
- For puppies, it’s not too soon to start housetraining. Just don’t be impatient, don’t expect perfection in the first week, and don’t do much correction in the first few days. During this honeymoon time the puppy doesn’t yet know that you’re his friend, so you have to spend some time proving yourself.
- Kittens will naturally take to a litterbox, but she has to know where it is. Deliver her to it every time she eats or drinks. If she needs to “go,” she’ll climb right in and “go.”
- Lastly, be sure to ask “Santa,” or whomever was the source of your new pet about his last doctor visit. At the outside he will need to see a veterinarian no more than three weeks from when you got him, or when the last pet doctor visit was, whichever is sooner. If the pet has not yet seen a doctor at all, try to get an appointment during the first two days you have him. Nothing is a greater heartbreak than losing a brand new family member.
A funny story: After the youngest son (yes, the one pretending to be sleeping) went into the living room on Christmas morning, he ran to his parents’ room yelling, “Somebody left a dog house in our living room.” It wasn’t until Mom and Dad escorted him back in there that he saw Beaux inside the doghouse!
See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.