I don’t know whether it’s the time of year, or coincidence, but lots of my friends have been getting new puppies and File 23-03-2016, 21 33 53kittens in the last few weeks. Since I keep getting asked for advice, I thought it might be useful to pass on this information to everyone.

Choosing what type and breed of animal to get before they even arrive is very important. Consider the size and personality of the breed you might like. Be realistic about the amount of exercise you can give a dog each day. It’s not fair to buy a collie that you like the look of if you can’t give them the hours of exercise and entertainment that they need each week. The same is true of cats; some breeds are far more laid back than others, IMG_5337while some like to play and interact with people and get lonely if they don’t have enough attention.

Always go and see your puppy or kitten at the breeders. However kind or friendly they sound, don’t let the vendor bring the puppy to you; this is a trick frequently used by puppy farmers to prevent people seeing the squalid conditions in which the animals are kept.In order to make good pets, puppies and kittens need to socialise with people. This means lots of contact when they’re young – this is best achieved when animals are raised in the house.

A lot of the animal’s personality depends on its parents, so make sure to check that Mum (and if possible Dad) is a File 23-03-2016, 21 36 25pleasant friendly animal. If the parent is at all aggressive or very nervous, avoid that puppy or kitten. If you have a choice, pick a friendly puppy or kitten who comes to see you. Don’t choose the most boisterous one or the timid one hiding at the back.Puppies and kittens should have a veterinary examination within a day or two of

Puppies and kittens should have a veterinary examination within a day or two of collection to ensure that they’re fit and healthy and so you can pick up any problems early. Vaccinations can start from 6 weeks old for puppies and 9 weeks old for kittens, so you might be able to combine these with your first visit. They’ll need two vaccinations before they can go out, so don’t expect to take your puppy for walks straight away.

Both puppies and kittens should be wormed every 2 weeks from birth until 12 weeks and then every month until they’re 6 months old, as even the best-cared-for will have some worms from their mum in the womb or in their milk. They should be flea treated each month. Pet shop and supermarket wormers and flea treatments aren’t as effective as prescription ones from your vet – there really is a difference.

IMG_5722Ask what they were treated with and when, at the time you collect them. It’s also worth checking which food they’ve been having and asking for some to take home so you don’t suddenly change their diet along with all the other shocks of being in a new house. Then you can switch to your preferred food gradually over a week or so. They should be fed a good quality complete dry food. I recommend Hills, Royal Canin or Eukanuba.

If you are getting a puppy or kitten from a rescue centre then the same things apply. They should have been well handled and wormed and flea treated before you get them.

Pets should be insured as soon as you get them – in case of accidents, illnesses or emergencies – with a lifetime cover policy. We give 4 weeks free insurance with their first vaccinations to ensure they’re covered. If you haven’t got insurance yet, you can activate four weeks free insurance with Petplan here.

Make sure you get them microchipped in case they get lost – remember that after 6th April this year, all puppies must be chipped by law before being sold.

Spaying and castration should be done between 4 and 5 months old, so you’ve got plenty of time to get them settled before the operation.
If you have questions about your puppy or kitten then please ask your vet. It’s a big responsibility looking after a pet, but also one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever decide to do.

If you have a new puppy and kitten and would like to register your details before making an appointment, please click here. We believe we are the best vets in Merthyr Tydfil, Mountain Ash, Treharris or Ystradgynlais and we hope you will too.

Is there something you’d like to read about? Email press@ashvets.co.uk with your questions. We check this every so often, but not immediately, so please don’t send urgent medical questions this way.

This article was also published in The Merthyr Tydfil Times.