Kitten 101 – Raising and Fostering Kittens – The Basics

Kitten 101 – Raising and Fostering Kittens – The Basics

It’s raining kittens, everywhere! Here is an overview of Kitten 101 to provide the basics if you adopt or find kittens to help them thrive. There are so many resources online too with in depth details.   Found kittens should be seen by a vet to ensure they are healthy. NEVER use FLEA treatment or medicated shampoo on kittens under 8 weeks. It will KILL THEM!   

The peak season for kittens is April – September, but in some places it’s year round. Mom cats, called QUEENS, are pregnant for 58-67 days. There can be a different dad for each kitten, which explains how there can be so many different kitten colorings in a single litter.  

There are many great online resources for kitten care, from neonatals through 1 year old. Some of our favorites are the Kitten Lady webinars on kitten care. Use the link below to visit her page and check out the webinars!




Do NOT assume kittens you find in your yard are ORPHANS! Mom could be close by. Watch and/or set up a camera to see if she appears within a couple of hours.  

* The best scenario for kittens under 4 weeks is to be with their mom. This increases their chances of survival.  

*  An average litter is typically 4-8 kittens, but the largest litter was 19 kittens in 1970.
*  Newborn kittens are born with their eyes closed and their ears folded. They cannot see or hear, until around 7-10 days.
*  They are mobile and move around based on scent and seeking the warmth of their mom or other siblings.
* Orphan newborns need to be fed every 2 hours, including overnight by syringe (needleless of course) or bottle. If they do not have a mother, they can only be fed Kitten Milk Replacement formula, canned or powdered (mixed with water). Orphan kittens have to be stimulated to go to the bathroom with each feeding with a warm, soft washcloth.
* DO NOT detach/cut umbilical cords. They will fall off naturally by 5-7 days of age.  


* DO NOT bathe any kitten under 8 weeks old in flea treatment or medicated shampoo. Use only DAWN dish soap or something recommended by your vet.
* DO NOT use topical FLEA MEDICINE on kittens under 8 weeks. This will KILL THEM!
* Kittens can start deworming at 2 weeks, but only if they can easily swallow.  This is repeated every 2 weeks until they’re 5-6 months old.
* Kittens can learn to use the litterbox as young as 3 weeks old. 
* ONLY use NON-CLUMPING litter for kittens under 8 weeks. Curious kittens will try to eat the litter. Clumping can kill them. Use paper pellets or natural alternatives.
* Kittens eyes are born blue – they’ll have their permanent eye color by 8 weeks old.
* Kittens start their first FVRCP vaccinate at 6-8 weeks, then have a booster shot every 3-4 weeks until they are 16-20 weeks old. This helps immunize them from fatal kitten illnesses.
* Diarrhea and eye infections need professional medical treatment ASAP!
* Female kittens can go into heat at 5 MONTHS OLD & CAN GET PREGNANT. It’s important to spay them before this.   



  • String, yarn, ribbon, dental floss.
  • Paper clips.
  • Pins and needles.
  • Rubber bands and hair ties.
  • Plastic bags (especially drycleaners’ bags—she could suffocate)
  • Anything else that your cat might chew.
When in doubt, contact a vet for more information. But get your camera ready to capture some of the most amazing cuddly and playful kitten moments 24/7! 

Kitten to Human Age Years Chart by ExcitedCats:


Kitten stage photos by the Kitten Lady:


7 Ways You Can Help FREE Chained Dogs

7 Ways You Can Help FREE Chained Dogs

 February 7 – 14 is “Have a Heart for Chained Dogs Week”.   Pawtectors learn, and know,  “they are the voice for those who cannot speak”.  Your voice matters for deserving animals in need, and every Pawtector Super Hero can make a difference.   It’s a sad situation, but with your help and voice, it could have a happy ending for these dogs in need of love and rescue.  We’re going to tell you the story of “chained dogs” and what you as Pawtector Super Heroes can do to make a difference for these forgotten dogs starting today.

Do you own a dog you love with all your heart?   Do you have family or friends whose dog(s) are like family members?   Those are the truly lucky pooches.  t’s probably very hard to believe that any owned dog doesn’t live pampered, in a warm home, on soft blankets and beds, surrounded by toys, with daily treats/food/fresh water, and humans like you that love them so much.

Some dogs are not that lucky.   They don’t have Super Heroes, like you, who love them.  Their lives are hard and they struggle to survive, especially now in winter, a  Many owned dogs, and probably yours too, live pampered, in warm homes on soft blankets and beds surrounded by toys, with daily treats and food, and humans like you that love them so much.   Yet, for many more dogs, and even puppies, that aren’t even homeless, they fall into the category of “chained dogs”.   They wait every day for their Super Heroes to come save them !



Many of puppies and dogs around the world, possibly including your city, live attached to a chain their entire lives, every hour of every day.  They are kept in backyards, in cramped spaces, sometimes facing extreme cold or heat without shelter, food or even water.  Imagine Being tethered for long hours is detrimental to their physical and psychological health.  They are living, breathing and feeling creatures who need thrive on the love and companionship of their humans.  It is particularly heartbreaking to see dogs chained in a yard during the deepest freezes of winter where dogs suffer frostbite, exposure & dehydration when water sources freeze and the hottest days of summer.


Hard for many pet owners to believe believe, but chain dog owners don’t even acknowledge them as anything other than “animals” and rarely even spend more than a few minutes a day, if the dog(s) are so lucky.    Many of these desperate animals are not even provided fresh water or daily food, and are often found with old injuries like bone breaks that healed into severe disabilities.   



This is “A CHAINED DOG’S PLEA” – so emotionally written by that we had to share. We hope it opens your heart, eyes and ears to what is happening in backyards all around the U.S. & beyond and inspires you to take action to help deserving, very desperate puppies & dogs. 


Here’s what a chained dog’s life is all about…

6:30 a.m.

It is early morning and I can say that because the members of my family are moving around in the house. I can hear them laughing and talking but no one is coming out to check on me. I wish I could be with them.

7:10 a.m.

I am awake since long. I am hungry and thirsty. I got tangled in my chain last and night and I am still tangled in it.

7:30 a.m.

My neck is hurting as the chain is too tight. I want to go out, play, exercise, be with my family but this chain is stopping me from even moving properly.

8:15 a.m.

It’s time for all to leave. Some will rush for the office and the youngest person in the family will go to school. Yes, I notice them all. I even try to run towards them hoping that they will notice me but as usual no one even paid attention to me.

8:20 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

I am still sitting here, confused, hungry and waiting for my family members to come. I am not sure what am I supposed to do? I want to protect the house so that I can be useful to them but I am stuck with this chain and that’s what frustrates me so I keep barking.

2:30 p.m.

Suddenly a man who looks like an officer arrives at our doorstep and posts a notice at the door of the house. Then he gives an odd look or a pitying look may be. Do I look bad? Yes, I may be but that look is confusing so I growl at him as I have no idea what else to react.

3:15 p.m.

Yay! the youngest person in the house has arrived. I wish he would play with me for a while and we could have a great time together. But he does not. I have to pee and poop at the same place every day in a bathroom, a few feet from my shelter.

6:10 p.m.

Okay now, all the members of my family are home. Thank god at least I won’t feel lonely at its peak. So you remember that man who gave me an odd look? He was the bylaw enforcement officer. I got to know this when one of the family members removed the notice and yelled at me to stop barking because they’re getting a legal notice.

7:00 p.m.

I am sad again and still embarrassed for being a reason for their inconvenience but trust me all I want is their attention. I smell food in the house. I am hungry and thirsty since morning. 

7:30 p.m.

My one of the family members comes out to see me and I feel so good.  He fills my food and water bowl. I become so happy that I can’t resist my excitement and I end up spilling a water bowl on his clothes. He becomes angry and again yells at me. He also says that it’s due to my such behavior he’s not willing to keep me in the house with him.

7:45 p.m.

It’s another shameful thing that I did. But I don’t understand why can’t they unchain me? Am I that bad? Did I harm anyone? No…Did I misbehave? No..Yes. I bark but that’s because I have no clue about what else to do…All I can do is stay chained and dream to get a day to get unchained.

8:15 p.m.

They had dinner and now I can hear them talking, listening to music and having great family time. Wish I could be a part of my own family who never considers me as their family member. As people say ‘Every dog has a day’ so I am waiting for my day to have my freedom. It’s another lonely night and I sleep while dreaming about being unchained.

There are many our of 50 states that have laws that actually allow this inhumane treatment to take place and protect owners.    Challenging these laws at the state level even today, often meet with resistance.    But that doesn’t stop animal rescues like the following from doing all they can to make a difference in the lives of these desperate dogs who are often some of the sweetest, those understandably human shy animals.    

Here is a table of State Dog Tether Laws so you can educate yourself on what’s happening legally in your own backyard.   If your state has laws that favor owners over their pets, we hope it inspires you to get involved and make a difference.

There are many rescues across the U.S. whose missions are to improve the lives of dogs when there is absolutely no other hope for these animals.    Some of these animal’s deplorable conditions are due to demographics, lack of owner resources or education.   In many backroads, rural areas, it’s an outdated mentality that an animal is simply “just an animal”.    But the sad part, is it’s not just rural areas as many think.   Even in thriving metropolitan areas, there’s daily chained dog abuse.   News reports during severe weather like tornadoes, hurricanes and blizzard snow, over the recent years, have often featured stories of dogs chained to fences on properties after owner’s left to seek shelter.   

It’s disturbing and emotional for the majority of animal rescue volunteers to get reports of these abused chained animals, especially when the animals are in desperate need of medical care but are left to die tethered because of abusive, uncaring owner.    Because they are owned, there’s often not much that can be done to convince an owner to change their method of care.  There are even areas of the U.S. where animal control officers are so overwhelmed, or outdated laws regard animals as “property” that these poor dogs fall through the cracks of society.   Groups and volunteers will often try every means to get an owner to relinquish the dog(s) to a rescue.   Some are successful, others aren’t.    

HOWS (House of Wood & Straw) Dog Shelter Projects-

HOWS (House of Wood & Straw) Dog Shelter Install project -

There are rescue/volunteer groups that exist to build shelters and fencing for these chained dogs to give them a step-up to a better day-to-day existence.    This too, is often met with resistance from the dog’s owners.

According to the Coalitions to Unchain Dogs in North Carolina, Beyond Fences (,  “By building free fences our fence program frees dogs living on chains and gives families and pets a safe place to strengthen their bond. Prior to building a fence, we provide free spay or neuter for each dog. We also supply each dog with a dog house, provide wheat straw during the cold winter months and tarps for shade in the summer heat. We’ve unchained over 2,200 dogs to date.”

As rescues, we can simply strive to continue to education the communities on animal compassion and care.   We also use every means on social media to educate people on the plight of these desperate chained dogs.    For many pet owners, they just can’t imagine that someone could treat an animal with such disrespect and lack of care.  

Here are some other things you can do to help chained dogs:

  • Adopt a dog.
  • Be the change.
  • Rescue a dogthat is forced to spend its days chained, confined or is unwanted.
  • Offer a doggyday in or out.
  • Offer to watch a friend’s dog.
  • Get him home on a cold day, or weather permitting, take him.
  • Contact your local rescue/shelter or animal control department if a dog/puppy is in danger and desperate need.

HOWS (House of Wood & Straw) Shelter/Fence project -

Helping chained dogs definitely takes a village.    If you are aware of situations in your community, but your local Animal Control Officer or shelter is unresponsive, reach out to organizations like the Animal League Defense Fund, the Humane Society of the United States, The American Society to Prevent Cruelty to Animals , American Pets Alive,

So, encourage people to bring the dogs in this winter. A home is where they belong.

Will you have a heart for chained dogs? You may be the only one that ever has in their world. Your voice and actions CAN save a life!

31 Tips for Successfully Introducing New Pets to Existing Pets

31 Tips for Successfully Introducing New Pets to Existing Pets

How exciting!   You’ve made that heartfelt, sometimes big, decision to adopt or bring another furry face to your household. It’s a very happy time, but somewhere in the midst, you will probably find yourself asking silently (or out loud) “how are my current furballs going to get along with the new one(s)?” Like most things with animals, there’s often a learning curve.  And that learning curve can change day to day?  Where do they like to sleep?  What are their communication habits? How are they in new environments? Sometimes, despite all your research on bringing a new cat or dog into your home with a resident cat or dog, there can still the unanticipated or unexpected reactions. To help make the transition smoother for you, your family, your current fur-children and your new furry family members, we have created this blog with 31 tips to get started off on the right paw.

Introducing a cat to a home with another cat(s):

There is no general scientific rule for what is the best combination of cats in a household.  Everyone you ask will probably provide a different answer or opinion on whether males are better with females, males with males, females with females, adults with kittens or even kittens with kittens. What works best for you & your household, might not even be workable for another family. The key underlying factors are cat temperament, socialization and if there are known behavior considerations from the new or current pet. Just because either “fluffy” is super sweet on their own, doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to openly accept “fluffy #2”.    This is often due to territory issues, improper introductions, and human tension when things don’t often go as planned. Good news though, it is certainly possible to acclimate cats of all ages to one another. Keep in mind that this introduction can take anywhere from days to weeks to months. The most important suggestion is to do the introduction slowly. Your ultimate goal is to prevent fearful and aggressive behavior amongst the cats. Your patience and understanding will help your cats adjust as well.

Here are a few tips on introducing a new cat to the household according to

  • As a rescue, one of the first things we recommend is to use hypo-allergenic pet wipes, maybe with a soft natural scent. Wipe all pets in the household down with the wipes.   That way the playing field is even for scents.  
  • New cats coming out of foster or shelter situations in communal living will be bringing home the combined smells of all their former friends. Your current fluffy could be terrified after one smell of fluffy#2 who appears as a cat with multiple cat smells.  
  • Place the new cat or kitten in their own room. Make sure they have a supply of food, water, litter, scratching posts and toys. Make it feel like home for them, so they are comfortable.
  • Feed the resident cat and the new cat on opposite sides of the door so they begin to associate positive actions with each other’s smells.
  • Scent swapping is a great way to get each cat used to the other cat’s smells. You can either swap their blankets and beds or you can take a washcloth and rub it on the new cat and then place it by the food dish of the resident cat. This is another way to teach them to associate positive actions with the smell of the new friend. 
  • At this point, you can do a short switch of location. This means let the new cat roam around the home (one to two new rooms at a time). While this is happening, keep your resident cat in the private space that has been occupied by the new cat. Do this for a short period of time and then switch them back.
  • Make sure you are spending quality time with both cats to make sure neither feels forgotten about. 
  • Now, you can slowly prop the door open ever so slightly so they can get a glimpse at each other face to face. 
  • When you let them interact for the first time, some hissing might happen. That is okay and normal. However, if you notice signs of upset and tension such as flattened ears, growling, spitting or crouching, separate them so they can be reassured that they are safe and secure by their humans.   Do not pick them up or hold them during the introductions as you could get hurt should someone get frightened. 
  • Reward them with toys and treats for good behavior and also to distract them if they are becoming overstimulated or upset. 
  • Always remember that some cats will never be best friends but if you can get them to peacefully coexist, you have been successful.

Introducing a dog to a resident dog:

Introducing a new dog to a resident dog is very different from introducing a new cat to a resident cat. This takes different steps and a different approach.   According to the Animal Humane Society,

  • The initial meet and greet should be in a neutral location for both dogs. Do not have it in your home. As with all animals, it is important that you let them meet each other slowly and do it very carefully. It is important to note that you should not just throw the two dogs together and let them figure it out on their own. That can backfire and put both dogs at risk.
  • Make sure they are both on leashes for their initial meet. Keep them approximately 10 feet apart so they get a sense for one another but are not on top of one another. The space between them will reduce the tension.
  • For future interactions during the introduction, it is important to still have a leash on, but you can leave it dragging so they can walk near each other. Let the two dogs briefly sniff one another and then call them away so that you end all meetings on a positive note.
  • When it is time to bring your dog home and into your home, let them meet outside in your yard first. Let the resident dog in first and then bring the new dog inside. Keep this interaction short, sweet and positive. If you sense tension or upset, immediately separate them and start the interaction process over.
  • Even once the introduction is done, it would be suggested to keep them in separate rooms or crates when you are not home to supervise.
  • Make sure your new dog has their own new toys, bed, food bowls, etc. Your new dog probably already has a routine and their favorites. This will help eliminate any potential territorial disputes because Rover#2 wants Rover#1’s favorite sleeping spot or chew toy.
  • Share the love. Make sure all furry children get equal love & attention, especially at the start.   It’s important for each to feel they have their own special place in the family and are not threatened/intimidated by the new change.
  • As always, reward good behavior!

Introducing a cat and dog:

When introducing a cat to a dog, you will find some similar suggestions as to acclimating cat to cat or dog to dog. The following tips will hopefully help create a lasting friendship between your pets.

  • Make sure that your cat has access to a separate room that the dog does not have access to. Make sure the cat also has high areas they can jump to in case they need to escape the dog. This private room should be secure with a door, celling and have all of their necessary supplies.
  • When introducing a new animal to the home, keep them apart for a few days. You will want to let them adjust to the sounds and smells of the new canine or feline friend before allowing them to meet face-to-face.
  • Similar to introducing a cat to another cat, you should feed them on opposite sides of the doors, so they associate positivity with the scent of one another.
  • It is important to try and teach your dogs some simple commands such as sit, down and come so you can stop any concerning behavior. 
  • When it comes time to introduce the pets, introduce them in a common area of the home. Make sure it is not one of their safe spaces. Those spaces should remain safe spaces for each pet. 
  • Initially, keep your dog on a leash so you have control over where the dog goes. Let the cat go around and walk around and sniff the dog. 
  • Do not restrain either pet in your arms as they can get startled and hurt you. 
  • Reward both pets for good, calm, positive behavior and actions.
  • If you begin to sense tension or stress, try to calmly distract them with a toy or food and redirect their behavior to something else. At this point, put them back in their safe places.
  • Do this activity daily and try to end each introduction session before either pet gets stressed or angry.
  • When you are ready to let your dog be loose with the cat, keep the dog on a leash on the floor so if you needed to, you could grab the leash and separate them.
  • Even after it is going well, you should keep the pets separated when you are not around to supervise the behaviors and interactions.

Most animals love to have the companionship of another animal and the transition is relatively smooth and quick. However, there are times when some animals find it more challenging to acclimate to their new furry family members, and cannot coexist as easily as you had originally hoped. At that point, a trained expert is what you need to help guide you down the path of peace. Have a conversation with your vet or an animal behaviorist/trainer.   They will happily be able to shed some additional expert tips, and additional resources, that could help find a solution that works for you and your furry children. The ultimate goal is one big family cohabitating peacefully under one roof.  Hopefully as furry best friends, but if not, then in a manner where tolerance and acceptance is just as golden. 

Simply Fostering Animals Can Make the U.S. No-Kill

Simply Fostering Animals Can Make the U.S. No-Kill

Fostering animals is, simply put, saving lives.  Giving the gift of love, and volunteering to be a homeless animal foster saves lives.  To foster an animal is to temporarily keep a homeless pet in your home until they are adopted or they can be taken into an animal shelter or rescue facility.  Almost every shelter, and especially rescue group, relies on foster homes at some point to take care of rescued pets until they have room.  Some rescue groups are run entirely through foster care.

“If less than 2% of pet-owning households in the U.S. fostered ONE pet per year, we could ELIMINATE unnecessary euthanasia in animal shelters tomorrow.” – Susanne Kogut, President of The Petco Foundation

As wonderful as animal shelters & rescue facilities are, they can be stressful to animals due to the noise, lack of sufficient exercise/socialization, and comfort to the scared.   Many shelters lack volunteer resources to provide 24/7 care for neo-natal puppies and kittens.   For a scared or animal with special needs, there’s nothing like the love and warmth of a family!  Animals in foster care tend to be less stressed, better socialized, and have a lower chance of getting sick than animals in shelters.


Many times, certain rescued animals are not best suited for a shelter, caged environment.  They could be a very timid stray, an owner give up that has always been in a home, or have a medical condition where the stress of shelter/caged living could make their illness worse. Special needs’ animals with a disability, injury rehabilitation or an older pet who needs more frequent TLC and attention are often also not suited for crowded, noisy shelter atmospheres .


Newborn puppies/kittens – especially bottle babies, are very vulnerable to illness and often understaffed or non-existent neo-natal volunteers at a traditional shelter.   These babies, often hours/days old absolutely need to be in an experienced foster home where their health & feedings is monitored round the clock for the first 3-4 weeks.  It’s a well-known fact that many shelters will euthanize these tiny newborns, often on intake, simply because they lack round-the-clock resources for their care.   A foster volunteer can 100% save these babies lives from an uncertain shelter fate! 


Fostering, like any other type of volunteering, takes compassion, commitment, work and a lot of patience. It can be a one-time situation, but for others, they are life-long foster parents.   For most people, it is very rewarding to watch an animal in your care:

  • thrive
  • be mended back to health
  • be placed in its forever home
  • be comfortable during end-of-life care

Fostering is a great way to help shelters with the responsibility of care to animals who are not ready to go to their permanent homes or need some extra care. Not only will you help animals in need, but it’s a great way to connect to a community and feel good about what you’re doing.   While most people choose to foster dogs or cats, there are also rescues for hamsters, rabbits, horses, and other animals.


If you have lots of love and time to care for an animal but not the money, fostering may be a great option for you. Many shelters/rescue groups provide foster parents with the food, medicine, and other supplies needed to take care of foster animals.  


Often, many people come up with excuses not to foster. They think they’re too busy, or they don’t want to get attached to an animal they’ll have to give up in even a few weeks.  If you simply refrain your thoughts, you should realize it’s literally about saving an animal’s life versus your own personal emotions.   Even hospice fostering a terminally ill homeless animal for a rescue/shelter, provides an incredible sense of love, compassion and accomplishment knowing you gave that animal a “home, a family, TLC, and a sense of worth” at the end of their life which it wouldn’t have known had the animal been left to live those hours/days out alone in a cage.


You could also simply be helping a pet’s owner who finds themselves in situations where they temporarily cannot take care of their pet.  This could be a result of:

  • hospitalized
  • entering domestic abuse shelters
  • dealing with a natural disaster

Pet ownership is a great responsibility, and sometimes people don’t realize this. Maybe your kids are begging for a new pet, but you’re not sure they’re really ready.   Are you possibly entering a different phase of your life, and missing a pet, but not sure you’re ready for a life-long commitment.   As a foster, you will experience all the roles of pet ownership — feeding, playing, administering medication, and the general overall care for the animal, but as a temporary foster.  However, as fostering is a temporary situation, if you realize ownership isn’t right for you, you at least have provided a good start before the animal finds its permanent home.


The term “failed foster” is proudly shared in the rescue world.   This is when you have fallen so in love and bonded with a very special foster, that you officially adopt them yourself.  A failed foster is a badge of honor that has a universal, unspoken definition.   

CAN I ADOPT THE DOG or CAT I FOSTER?   YES, by going thru the rescue/shelter’s organization process

I HAVE A PET?   CAN I STILL BE A FOSTER PARENT?   YES, if your current pet is compatible with the foster dog or cat.  It could be therapeutic & beneficial for both animals

WILL I BE RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL COSTS AS A FOSTER?   This varies from rescue to rescue — there are many options typically available to create WIN-WIN-WIN situations for animal-foster-rescue.

WHAT’S THE FIRST STEP TO BE A FOSTER?   Contact your local rescue/shelter and tell them “I’M READY TO SAVE A LIFE or 2!?   

Here are seven reasons why you should consider becoming a foster parent:


  1.    Fostering increases an animal’s chance of getting adopted. 
  2.   Your own pets will learn more social skills. 
  3.   You get to see if you’re ready to own another pet.
  4.   You probably already have the space for one more.
  5.   You can choose how to foster.  Only want to foster bulldogs? Prefer to look after kittens? Can’t foster for more than a few months at a time? Most rescues can accommodate your requests, as long as you agree to it beforehand and give them plenty of notice about changes.
  6.   Fostering keeps animals out of shelters.
  7.   You are saving a life!

Bottom line of Fostering.   You feel good + your shelter or rescue group helps more animals = foster pets that are happy, healthy, and well-socialized. TOTAL WIN, WIN, WIN!


Are you open to help make the U.S. NO-KILL just by FOSTERING?   It’s an easy and fun experience guaranteed to change your life and the life of a deserving animal!  Reach out to your local shelter or rescue today and just ask!   Your life will be changed instantly for the better !

New Year’s Resolution 2021 – Healthy, Happy Pets!

New Year’s Resolution 2021 – Healthy, Happy Pets!

Just like humans, a pet’s health can sometimes change in the blink of an eye.   New foods, changes in household environment, maturing pets, weather, stress  – so many things can affect your pet’s overall well-being at different stages of their lives.    The only difference is they cannot tell us when they are hurting or not feeling good. You may notice a change in behavior, eating habits or vocalization but you’re often left guessing what the underlying cause is, or if there is even one.    If you ever notice any unusual variation in your pet’s behavior, a phone call to your vet or a vet visit would be suggested.   Many vets often state that by the time a pet is showing outward signs of an illness, it sometimes can be too late for effective treatments for some conditions.   Be in tune to your animals, they really can show you with subtle behavior changes over time that are out of character.   

Many people know to take their pets to the vet in an emergency, but there are many personal and professional opinions on the frequency of taking your pets in for wellness exams and vaccines.   For all your pets, especially senior animals, have a conversation with your vet to determine what’s best for your animal(s).   Based on your pet’s overall health and medical condition, a detailed conversation with your vet can help you develop a game plan that will work best for your pet(s) & you.    This will vary from animal to animal, and with vets as well.    

There are no such things as silly questions….you are the voice for your pet.  If you don’t understand a new diagnosis or proposed procedure or treatment, ASK QUESTIONS until you are comfortable enough with the information at hand to make an informed decision.   You should trust your vet enough to determine what’s absolutely necessary and what’s preventative.  Again, ASK if you don’t understand.

So are annual visits necessary if your pet is healthy? 

Crazy as it seems, this answer will vary between licensed veterinarians and often within the same practice.    Ask your vet directly what is best for your fur children.   In general, an annual examination allows your vet to get the full picture of your pet’s health, from their heart to their lungs to their teeth and bone structure. Going annually will provide your vet the opportunity to notice subtle changes from year to year and address concerns as they arise.   Catching an illness or disease early can hopefully help extend your pets life and keep them with you as long as possible. 

In addition to the general wellness exam, your vet may recommend yearly vaccinations to help prevent against dangerous, potentially fatal diseases and illnesses.   Your veterinarian will evaluate your pet’s overall health and medical conditions to determine if they can receive the following vaccinations. In some cases, your vet may determine that your pet is not a candidate to receive a vaccine due to age or underlying medical conditions.   It should be noted, that some counties and jurisdictions also require certain vaccines for required pet registrations/licenses.  If you are uncertain of your local laws pertaining to owned pets, contact your local government office and inquire.  If there are underlying medical conditions that prevent your animals from getting county required vaccines, ask your vet to write a letter on their practice letterhead.   This will hopefully help with a medical exemption to county pet licensing rules if your pet falls into this category.    

For cats, your vet will recommend if yours should get the following vaccinations:

  • Rabies (this is offered as a 1 or 3 year).   Ask the pros & cons or do your own research to determine what you feel is the best option for your cat.   
  • FVRCP- also known as “distemper” vaccine.   Depending on the age of the kitten/cat, this could be a single or a series of boosters over a specific period of time.   

For dogs, your vet will recommend which of the following vaccinations are best for your pooch: 

  • Rabies
  • Distemper
  • Leptospirosis
  • Lyme
  • Bordatella
  • Canine Influenza

If your pet is generally healthy but getting along in years, your vet might also recommend routine bloodwork that can be done to establish a baseline for your pet’s health as they age, or to monitor certain current health concerns or changes.    

At the end of the day, your pet is your heart and your family member.   They are depending on you to give them the best care they need to stay healthy and well.    Do your due diligence and your homework to look into the pros & cons of vaccines, if you have concerns.    Remember, there is a big wide world often with so many different opinions even from licensed vets.      The best option is to find a vet/practice that you trust and know that you can ask as many questions as you need.  It’s your prerogative to get all the answers that give you comfort knowing the decisions you make on behalf of your beloved furballs are the best choice possible.    

If you get a new medical diagnosis about your pet’s health, you can always opt for a second opinion.    Same for treatments & procedures.    Be an educated pet owner.    Today, there are so many different options for pet care, from traditional veterinarian practices to holistic approaches incorporating acupuncture, lasers, homeopathy, and more.     The right approach is the one you have researched and are most comfortable with.    

Just like human medical care, if you choose to skip annual exams and potential vaccines, your pet could be placed at risk.      A great vet will not only treat your pet as their own, but take the time to guide you thru the process of pet care.   

Pet care can get expensive, and times are a bit challenging for some, which is why some people also try to self-diagnose & avoid going to a vet at all.     Maybe pet insurance is a more affordable route for you & your pet.    Again, so many options available that require a bit of research on your part.    Medical vs Dental or a combination of both – what’s best for you?  Like people, there are options involving different deductibles, waiting periods and monthly premiums.     

At the end of the day, you are your pet’s voice.   Wishing your pet(s) health & happiness in this new year! 

If you have questions about your pet’s general health or the need of vaccines, please talk to your vet practitioner for their medical advice and guidance.