We almost always recommend waiting to spay or neuter your puppy until they are over 6 months of age.
There are a lot of studies being done lately about specific breeds, and the best time to have surgery done to maximize their health as they age. This is a very important topic that needs a discussion between us so we can take all factors into consideration and decide on your pet's best timing for their surgery.
**For giant breeds, and deep-chested dogs like standard poodles, there is a fatal condition they can develop called Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus, often referred to as "Bloat" or "GDV". Refer to sites like acvs.org for more info. To prevent this, we often can prophylactically do surgery on your pet to "tack" their stomach down. This procedure is often done at the same time as spays/neuters.
As always - every breed, dog, family is different, so we will discuss pros and cons with you during these critical puppy visits.
We typically spay or neuter kittens when they are 6 months of age.
There is no evidence at this time that waiting is of benefit to the cat.
As a rule, Furever Family will never recommend a grain-free food.
We encourage a balanced AAFCO dry pet food diet such as Purina Pro Plan or Hill's Science Diet.
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For puppies, starting at 8 weeks of age, they can be around as many healthy, vaccinated, FRIENDLY, dogs that you know. Use friends, family, and neighbors as resources. WE DO NOT RECOMMEND DOG PARKS UNTIL THEY ARE 100% VACCINATED AND APPROVED TO DO SO.
All introductions should be controlled, and slow, so no one is scared and no one gets accidentally hurt. With time, these playdates can get longer, and off-leash, when all animals are familiar with each other, and no questionable behavior has been seen.
Everyone that comes to your house and yard should get on their knees or sit on the ground (humans bending down/leaning down to pet dogs are scary) to greet them, give them soft pets and cuddles, and give them treats. A well-socialized puppy should meet 100 different dogs, and 100 different people in their first 6 months of life. After that age, their social window starts closing, and rewards are not seen as quickly.
These are all basic recommendations. If your puppy is older, has health, or social issues, please bring this up to us so we can pay particular attention and give more specific recommendations for socialization.
Here's a few of our favorite puppy resources:
- Perfect Puppy in 7 Days: How to Start Your Puppy Off Right. This an amazing reference for ALL puppy owners. Get it. Read it. Live it.
- Let Them Sniff - Canine Principles
- DIY Canine Enrichment
Along with frequent exercise and outdoor socialization, puppies need to use their noses and brains on a constant basis. Check out Amazon.com, or any of your local pet stores for puzzle feeders, snuffle mats, slow feeders, and other sources of canine enrichment. Stuff Kong toys or Beef cheek rolls with peanut butter, cheese, low fat yogurt (flavored is fine), applesauce, +/- their kibble, or other small treats. Freezing filled Kongs are a great way to keep them entertained while you're gone, though they can be a bit messy - plan appropriately!
We do recommend obedience training for all dogs, large and small. The link is just some of the recommended resources in our area. Found a trainer but you're not sure if they're right for you??
- Make sure they focus on positive reinforcement. The old "make them submit to you because you're the alpha/beat them into submission" idea is out dated, and can actually make dog behavior worse.
- Ask us! We can research them and their methods for you and make sure they're a good fit for your pet/family.
As long as their tummies tolerate it, try feeding your kitten a variety of different foods, and treats. Hard and crunchy, pate-style, or shredded style canned. Try different proteins - chicken, tuna, beef, etc...and keep trying and experimenting with them, just a little at a time.
Studies show that kittens offered a variety of foods at a young age are less picky as they age. When your kitten is older, there may be a time that you need to feed a specific flavor or type of food, for health reasons, and this will make EVERYONE'S life easier if they're used to a variety.
To go along with food suggestions, studies show that cats drink more water if it is moving. And they do need to drink a lot of water to stay healthy. Check out kitty watering fountains on Amazon.com, or other local pet stores, for options. They are relatively inexpensive, and help keep your cat's urinary tract healthy and hydrated.
CATS ARE NOT EASY PETS. They need constant enrichment, just like our canine companions. Every home should have multiple litterboxes, set apart from one another (the rule of thumb is one-per-cat, plus one) ie - 2 cats = 3 litterboxes. They need a cat tree so they can get vertical, and they need hiding places and resting spots. Covered outdoor patios are great for their active minds, eyes, and noses. Check out Doc and Phoebe products, and outdoor cat enclosures/catios on Amazon.com. Or Google "Feline Enrichment." So many great ideas and so good for your feline friend!
This blog has some wonderful DIY enrichment ideas for your cat. Use these tips to make their lives better, brighter, and fuller.