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Pet Care Basics

Dr. Rochelle Campbell

It is highly likely that a large number of families, including yours, received a pet for the holidays.  Here are some basic tips for keeping your new pet happy and healthy.

Puppies are a popular gift from Santa.  It will take some time for the entire family to become adjusted to life with a puppy but with a lot of attention and care in the beginning, your puppy will turn into a wonderful dog.  Essentials for a puppy include a crate (this is especially helpful when trying to potty train and will also give your puppy his own space), routine vaccines (usually every three to four weeks until he is about 16 weeks old), a good quality puppy food, a proper fitting leash and collar (or harness for smaller puppies), size - appropriate toys and treats, and of course, food and water dishes.  Although it can be very tempting to introduce your brand new puppy to the world, it is best to wait until he is further along in his vaccine series before taking him to places such as the dog park (or any other place where large numbers of dogs congregate).  Also, it is important to take your puppy to basic training classes so he can learn "manners".  Depending on the breed, you may need to consider your dog's grooming needs and get him accustomed with a groomer early in life as well.

Kitties are another popular pet from Santa.  Be sure to pick out appropriate toys that are safe for kittens to play with in your absence.  Toys that contain small pieces, such as bows and buttons, are dangerous because they can be swallowed.  Fishing pole -  type toys are also dangerous because sometimes cats like to chew or swallow the string.  If you choose these toys, make sure to put them away when you are not supervising your kitten.  Other essentials include a litterbox, routine vaccines until she is about 16 weeks of age, a good quality kitten food and appropriate food and water dishes.

Other pets that are popular for the holidays include "pocket pets", such as gerbils and hamsters, and fish.  Pocket pets should have an enclosure that is safe and secure.  A good quality diet and treats, along with accessories to allow for appropriate exercise, will help your pocket pet to be happy and healthy.  Fish need a clean, secure aquarium.  The size, number and type of fish that are in the aquarium usually will help determine the most appropriate size of aquarium that is necessary.  Remember to condition the water and acclimate the fish before placing the new fish into the water and remember to only put compatible fish together into the aquarium.  Routine tank cleaning and a good filter system will help keep the aquarium's environment in top condition.

I hope these tips help and that everyone has a great start to the new year!