Island Bird Cat & Dog Vet Group

Island Bird Cat & Dog Vet Group

an Appointment

Island Bird Cat & Dog Vet Group

Puppy And Kitten Care

Puppy / Kitten
Hello! We at the Island Bird Cat & Dog Veterinary Group welcome you as a new client. Island Bird Cat & Dog Veterinary Group has been open since 1990. We are a modern, fully equipped facility with state of the art equipment and a well trained staff. We are open 7 days a week by appointment. Boarding and grooming services are also available on the premises.

We are aware that questions regarding your pet often arise. Please remember that we are only a phone call away, so you can feel free to call anytime during our office hours and our knowledgeable, courteous staff will be glad to answer your questions.

Island Bird Cat & Dog Vet Group

Enclosed is some valuable information about your new puppy or kitten. Please read it carefully for it will help you to understand some of the many aspects of owning a puppy or kitten. Again, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask!!


Intestinal and stomach parasites are commonly found in young puppies/kittens. A stool sample will be checked regularly to make sure your puppy is free of these harmful invaders. If any parasites are found, a specific treatment will be prescribed to rid your pet of them. If possible, bring a stool sample on every visit.


Heartworm disease is one of the most harmful diseases your dog can get. It is spread by mosquitoes from dog to dog, and we all know how easy it is to get a mosquito bite! Your puppy will be put on a heartworm preventative which is a monthly medication given all year round. It is recommended that your dog be tested for this disease annually since no form of prevention is 100% effective. A test is usually done with your dog's annual vaccine. Fleas and ticks are problematic in both dogs and cats, therefore we recommend a monthly flea and tick product to begin using in early spring and ending when we get our first frost. Your kitten will be tested on its first visit for two highly contagious life threatening viruses in cats that have no cure, Feline Leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus.


At 6 months of age, female dogs and cats should be spayed and male dogs and cats neutered. For females, spaying at 6 months of age, before the first heat, decreases the chances of breast cancer tremendously. After the fourth heat, the incidence of breast cancer is the same whether the animal is spayed or not. Spaying at any age prevents uterine and ovarian cancer as well as pyometra, a life threatening infection of the uterus. Neutering male dogs at six months of age stops the hormonal desire to hump legs, jump fences, chase female dogs in heat, mark territory with urine and other unseemly male behaviors. Neutering adult males to stop these behaviors is not effective because these are no longer hormonal impulses but learned behaviors. Neutering at any age will decrease prostate and rectal cancer. The only exception to spaying or neutering your dog or cat is if it is going to be a breeding animal. If this is your situation, please ask us for advice before you do anything.

Spay/Neuter Facts

For every person that is born, 15 dogs and 45 cats are born.

Pet overpopulation is a big problem. As these statistics show, in order to help keep up with the current flood of puppies and kittens, every person would have to own two dogs and six cats at all times.

A household of five would have to harbor 10 dogs and 30 cats! Adoption alone is obviously not the answer. Altering is. Please spay or neuter your pets.

All pets should be surgically altered for many reasons:

FEMALES (Spaying - Ovariohysterectomy)

  • Prevents signs of estrus (heat).
  • Prevents blood stains on the carpet from the heat cycle.
  • Decreases surplus of puppies and kittens.
  • Decreases the chance of developing breast tumors later in life.
  • Decreases the chance of cystic ovaries and uterine infections later in life.

MALES (Neutering - Castration)

  • Decreases the desire to roam the neighborhood.
  • Decreases aggression - become more loving pets (more affectionate).
  • Decreases incidence of prostate cancer later in life.
  • Prevents odor of Tom Cat urine.
  • Prevents Tom Cat spraying and marking furniture and walls.

More Spay/Neuter Facts

Spaying does NOT cause a pet to get fat or lazy. This comes from overfeeding and poor exercise.

Personalities are NOT altered by spaying. Personalities do NOT fully develop until two years of age. Aggressiveness and viciousness are not the result of surgery. Personalities will ONLY get better!

Surgical risk is very slight due to modern anesthesia and techniques, but there is ALWAYS some SMALL risk when an anesthetic is used.

It is much easier on the pet to be spayed before going through a heat cycle, due to the smaller size of the reproductive tract.

Best age to spay or neuter pets is 6-8 months of age.

Surgery is performed painlessly while your pet is under general anesthesia. Post surgical pain is minimal.


Feeding is a very important aspect of puppy/kitten care. We recommend feeding 3 times a day until 6 months to a year of age (depending on the breed), and two times a day for adult dogs/cats. Dry food is preferred over canned food because it is better for their gums and teeth, and it is easier and more economical for the owner. The professional blends such as IAMS, Science Diet, Royal Canin and Eukanuba are best. Initially, it may be necessary to add warm water to soften the food for a small puppy. The food should be left out for 20 minutes and what is uneaten should be removed and given at the next meal. No people food, meat bones, rawhides or milk should be given to puppies/kittens or adult dogs/cats ever. Fresh water should be available at all times.


It is okay to bathe a healthy puppy with any quality hypoallergenic shampoo. It is very important to make sure that all of the shampoo is rinsed off your puppy or dog because remaining soap can cause an allergic reaction. A drop of mineral oil or eye lube should be placed in each eye before the bath to prevent the soap from getting in them and burning; cotton balls should be placed in the ears to prevent ear infections. After bathing, the puppy must be kept warm until he is thoroughly dry. A blow dryer can be used to speed the drying process but only use a low setting and keep it at a distance from your puppy's skin to avoid burns. Most cats do not require bathing.


Preventative dental care is not only important for humans, but for dogs and cats as well. Initially, baby teeth form in the first weeks of life. These are very sharp and may break off early with little or no consequences. Between 4 and 6 months of age the baby teeth will begin to fall out and the adult teeth will come in. It is possible that you may notice blood on your pet's toys and you may not find any of the baby teeth don't panic!!! Your veterinarian will evaluate the new adult teeth to see that they have come in properly and that the baby teeth are not retained.

At 6 months of age, when your pet comes in to be spayed or neutered, we strongly recommend that a fluoride treatment be applied to your pet's teeth while he or she is under anesthesia. Just as with young children, it strengthens the enamel and prevents cavities and plaque formation. It is more effective when done at this young age for it penetrates deeper into the tooth, helping to prevent decay later on.

The enamel of young adult teeth is smooth and resistant to penetration by bacteria. As your pet ages, the enamel becomes pitted, allowing bacteria to get a foothold and multiply. Over time cavities and plaque deposits will develop causing that bad smell that comes from your pet's mouth. As the gums become diseased, they recede and expose the teeth and their roots. Eventually the bacteria spread via the blood to the heart, liver and kidneys, damaging these organs and shortening the life of your pet. Unfortunately, hard biscuits, dry food and crunchy treats alone will not keep older pet's teeth clean. All animals should have their teeth brushed regularly, preferably daily. It is much easier to do if your pet is taught from an early age. Here are some tips on how to get your puppy accustomed to having his or her teeth brushed:

Have your puppy/kitten used to having your fingers in its mouth. Use something good tasting such as garlic, chicken soup, or tuna oil.

Use a good medicated dental cleaner on your finger. Your vet will recommend the proper one. NOTE: human toothpaste is made with detergents; if swallowed, it may upset your pet's stomach.

Progress to using a piece of gauze with the dental cleaner on their teeth.

Slowly introduce a brush in an up and down motion.

Brush teeth as often as possible. After each meal is ideal. If this is not possible, at least clean them every other day.

If your pet has already developed tartar, plaque and/or cavities, much can be done to save his or her teeth as well as make your pet's mouth healthy and comfortable. Initially, a complete physical evaluation will be done. If needed, a complete cleaning with an ultrasonic scaler, gum treatment, possible cavity repair, necessary extraction and a polishing are done under general gas anesthesia. Even if you are unable to brush your pet's teeth, there are still products that will help keep your pet's mouth healthier between cleanings. These are antiseptic cleaners which if applied daily will decrease the number of bacteria therefore reducing disease.

Dental care is one of the most neglected pet health needs. Puppies and kittens can become accustomed to proper dental care by periodic brushing with a pet toothpaste. Periodontal disease is very common in older dogs and causes bad breath, and often serious infections. A dental exam can determine whether your pet needs preventive dental care such as scaling, polishing, and antibiotics.

Oral disease is the most common health problem treated in small animal clinics today.
An oral examination and dental prophylaxis is recommended annually for all adult dogs and cats.

The following steps suggested by veterinarians can put a bite into potential health problems:

Don't wait for his annual checkup if you suspect a problem.

BEGIN A DENTAL CARE REGIMEN AT HOME. Your veterinarian can suggest steps that may include brushing your pet's teeth. One of the most convenient and effective ways to combat oral disease is feeding specially formulated foods proven effective in removing plaque and tartar buildup. The Seal of Acceptance from the Veterinary Oral Health Council, an organization initiated by members of the American Veterinary Dental Society to guide consumers, appears on products that meet defined standards for plaque and tartar control in dogs and cats.

SCHEDULE REGULAR VETERINARY DENTAL CHECKUPS. These are essential in helping your veterinarian monitor the progress of your pet's dental health routine.

Please, take pet dental care to heart. It's one way to ensure good health and vitality for your best friend.


Housebreaking your new puppy properly is often a frustrating ordeal for both pet and owner. Yet, when done properly, the end result will be a dog that everyone is happy with! When done improperly, however, the end result may be disappointing and stressful.

First: Keep in mind that dogs must be taught the appropriate places to relieve themselves. Prior to bringing your new puppy home, the likelihood is that he has been accustomed to relieving himself wherever and whenever he felt the need. Also, the age of your puppy will determine how amenable to the training he will be. A 6 to 8 week old pup will not be able to remain dry for more than 4-6 hours, although this is the beginning of the time period that a pup will begin to select a place-preference. You are actually teaching your puppy the location that is acceptable. This is what housebreaking is all about. And this is also known as "substrate". The substrate is what the puppy is using to relieve himself - whether it's on newspaper or grass. Location preferences are left to your dog. Since the brains of pups are optimally primed to select a substrate at approximately 8 weeks of age, this is the best time to expose him to the area you eventually want him to use.

Here are some helpful pointers:

Housebreaking will be an uphill progression by using positive and negative reinforcements in an appropriate manner. EVERYTIME your puppy urinates or defecates; he self-rewards himself that that was a good thing to do. When the puppy has to relieve himself he will feel a discomfort; relieving that pressure is a positive, good feeling, which reinforces that the action was a good, positive thing to do.

The objective is as follows: Provide continual negative reinforcement when the puppy uses the wrong place AND provide positive reinforcement when he goes in the proper spot. This is the key to housebreaking that will result in success.

Appropriate Negative Reinforcement
----- Verbal reprimands
------ Forcing pup to lay in the mess

Your verbal reprimand is the MOST effective way to impress the puppy that using the inappropriate area is wrong. The importance of a loud and deep tone that will result in helping the pup to abort the activity cannot be overstated. (Ex: "No! BAD DOG!") Always assume a tall, authoritative posture. A gentle, yet firm scruff of the pup with a SLIGHT shake will further reinforce your disapproval if you are close enough. Caution: "Shaken puppy syndrome" is not the goal of this mild correction. Once your pup has aborted the offending behavior, take him out or to the paper IMMEDIATELY. (See the selection below entitled: "Taking Puppy Out").

Remote Corrections: Another method of correction is to use a throw-can or a heavy book which you throw AWAY from your dog (only!). This should be thrown near enough to cause him to startle so he will stop relieving himself in the wrong place. The objective is to cause him to abort the behavior. Position the items strategically around the room so if pup is going and you aren't close enough to scruff his neck, you can pick up one of these objects and stop him. Once your pup has stopped, put him on the leash promptly and take him to the acceptable spot.

Note: The only time a verbal or remote correction will work is when the pup is IN THE ACT of going. Proper timing is critical. If you see the pup even 1-2 steps away from the mess, you have missed your chance to discipline. It is therefore extremely important for you to make time to spend with the puppy and watch and teach him.

Crating: This is used when you are not able to watch your pup, whether it's because you're not home, are sleeping, or simply too busy to watch him closely. This is a method of teaching housebreaking, but it is not the preferred method. If circumstances demand this method known as crating, it is carried out by having the pup lay in the mess. This is best accomplished with a crate that contains no other items such as blankets, towels, newspaper, etc. These items hide or absorb the mess which will defeat the intention. The crate cannot be so large that the puppy will simply move from the mess to the other side and be comfortable.

Positive Reinforcement

The most effective way to train is through positive reinforcement, allowing for a pleasant transition into the appropriate place for housebreaking. The proper timing is critical. The time to reward is when the pup stands up from the squatting position. A tasty food reward such as a piece of cheese, or freeze dried liver which is easily found in pet stores and doesn't dirty the owner's pants pockets, will make a big positive impact on his mind! It's important not to overdo the amount of the treat/reward to avoid diarrhea. During the first week, food reward and verbal reward given promptly and consistently are in order. Afterward, verbal rewards are given each time, but food rewards are given intermittently.


This point cannot be overemphasized. Most dogs never tell you that they need to go out (some do!); they simply wait for you to take them. A new puppy who doesn't even have the skills to know where to go, is especially not able to understand this. Therefore, it's important to put your puppy on a schedule so it can begin to anticipate when it is going out. This will facilitate housebreaking a great deal and you will get a better outcome! It is suggested that you take your pup out every hour that you are home with him. In addition, take him out immediately when you notice him making a mistake inside. These times should remain the same each that your pup can begin to anticipate the chance to relieve himself. When the puppy control gets better, you can gradually increase the time between trips outside.

Food and Water:

Feeding and watering free choice makes housebreaking more difficult. Random food or water going in, results in random feces and urine out. Food should be restricted to twice or three times daily, depending upon the age and breed of the dog. Water should be restricted to five or six times daily. If the pup's environment is hot - perhaps without air conditioning - then water should be available as FREE CHOICE. Also do not offer food or water one hour prior to bed or leaving the pup alone.

Taking Puppy Out:

Your living circumstances may not allow you to do this with your puppy when you first get him. We do not recommend that any puppy is taken outside before he is four months old and all his shots are complete, unless you have a fenced in yard. Young pups do not have mature immune systems and even if they are on par with their vaccines, they have a chance of acquiring a serious or even deadly disease if allowed to play where there are other dogs. Realize that you do not know what has been roaming your street or sniffing on your front lawn or stoop which could be dangerous to your pet. Even without seeing actual evidence, there could be remnants that are not visible of disease that could be fatal to your dog. If your dog is inside for these reasons, simply follow the instructions below for housebreaking within the house until he is old enough to be completely vaccinated and go outside.

Housebreaking should be an active event. Simply opening your back door and letting him out does not teach your pup what to do when outside. He needs to be on the leash and taken to the same spot each time. He should be given a command like: "Hurry Up" or "Get Busy" when you're in this spot. This is not play time; your interactions should focus on that only and reward him when he has gone. In this way, the pup knows that something is expected of him when he is at this spot and the command will reinforce this. If the dog hasn't gone in 10 minutes or so, he probably won't go, so the lesson must end. Be sure to watch him closely when you come home, and take him out again at the next scheduled time or as soon as he looks as if he needs to go.

How long is this going to go on?

Every dog is different and unique. Some may seem to be housebroken as soon as you take them home, but generally, do not expect this to happen quickly or even in a week's time. It will probably take several weeks for some consistent reliability; but it may take a few months before you feel comfortable leaving him home without being in the cage. Patience, consistency, and commitment are the key words to housebreaking.

Housebreaking takes TIME, and it is important to train the SAME way at the SAME times every day according to schedule. This is time consuming, but worthwhile. While some would view keeping the dog in a cage as somewhat unkind, it's important to realize that the proper training now will result in a happier dog later on and a better pet for you!


The number one reason dogs are brought to animal shelters by owners are: Behavioral problems. Sadly, the majority of these animals are euthanized, which is why we can conclude that behavioral problems is the number one killer of dogs, far surpassing diseases or accidents. Poorly housebroken dogs often end up at the pound because most owners no longer can or will cope with the mess. Unfortunately, many of these owners would not need to struggle with this decision if they had adhered initially to an appropriate and proper housebreaking method for their pet.

If you are having trouble, do not despair! It's not unusual to need guidance and support to become adept at housebreaking your dog. There are professional trainers who can help you, and we urge you to speak to your veterinarian for referrals and/or advice. The more promptly you move in that direction, the better the prognosis and outcome. Seeking professional help will equip you with knowledge and skills and assist you through this challenging time.

Above all, research has shown that many past methods were counter productive, illogical, and often harmful. We urge pet owners to move forward, find professionals to assist you, and explore current and dramatically improved methods for successful days ahead with your loving pet!


A puppy/kitten, like a young child, is very curious and will want to taste everything in your house. It is important to make sure that readily eaten objects such as electrical wires, garbage, insecticides, meat bones and other foreign objects are not accessible to your puppy or kitten. Sometimes even non-toxic objects like shoes laces can kill a puppy/kitten. Try to be aware of what your puppy/kitten has in his or her mouth at all times. Teething at about 1-2 months of age is normal puppy/kitten behavior as adult teeth come in. Giving your puppy chew toys and disciplining him or her will help keep your puppy from chewing on things they are not supposed to.


Puppies are basically a blank slate. What you get them used to at a young age, they will tolerate and enjoy when they are adults. Here are some things you can do to ensure your pup will be a friendly, well mannered dog you can be proud of:

  • visit many new places a week;
  • introduce your pup to new people at each place;
  • take your pup on regular car rides (use a carrier or specialized seatbelt for safety);
  • brush your pup daily;
  • bathe him/her frequently;
  • handle your pups feet, ears, mouth, etc. Massage him or her all over. If they fuss, say "no" firmly;
  • talk to your pup in a soft, pleasant voice when he or she is quiet;
  • gradually acquaint your pup to very loud noises such as the vacuum or blow dryer. Turn them on and off from a distance.


Provide appropriate objects for chewing (nylabone, pigs ears.) and praise the puppy for chewing on these objects. It is best to rotate the toys every week so the pup does not get bored. Gently punish inappropriate chewing (clap hands, shout, squirt with water bottle, shake coins in a can) while directing the puppy to appropriate objects. Put your pup in his crate when you are not supervising. Don't allow aggressive behavior such as mouthing hands, tugging, jumping up, growling, guarding food and nipping. Competition between dog and owner should never be developed, even when it is playful. To handle aggressive play, stand perfectly still, cross your arms and close your eyes to tell your puppy you are not interested in playing "rough". When the puppy gives up, get an appropriate toy and praise your puppy for playing with it. Don't allow jumping up. Never pet or talk sweetly to a dog that has only two feet on the ground. Turn away and ignore him. Kneeing, hitting the dog under the chin, and squeezing the dog's paws may actually lead to increased jumping. Make definite decisions about manners: Will the dog be allowed on the furniture? Are any rooms off limits? When you tell your dog "no", you must be prepared to enforce your decision immediately.


The "nothing is free" technique helps you establish leadership. The concept is to teach your dog that nothing is free and that they must obey a command before they get anything they like. NO food rewards are used. The reward is what the dog wants in the particular situation, be it love, praise, pats, going out, etc..don't allow your pup to be demanding. The only way your dog should get what he or she wants is by behaving.


The preceding ideas will help you lay good foundation for your puppy. In addition, your dog should learn to sit and stay on command, come when called, and walk on a leash. Eight weeks of age is a good time to begin teaching some of these commands. If you desire more extensive training, contact us for the names of some good behaviorists and trainers.

We at Island Bird Cat & Dog Veterinary Group are here to help. If you have any questions please feel free to call.