Watching pets grow from bouncing kittens or puppies to the wise elders of the family is extremely rewarding. Knowing how to care for animals at each stage of their life can help keep them in tip-top condition right through to the golden years! Each stage has its own considerations, which we have described here:
Stage 1 – Puppy or Kitten
A cat is a kitten up to around 6 months of age. Puppies are more variable, but small dogs become adults at just over 12 months, whereas giant breeds are much nearer 2 years old before adulthood! Medium sized dogs fit somewhere in between.
The most important things to consider during this stage are:
- Vaccination and microchipping – There are many deadly diseases out there that are easily preventable through vaccinating. We can also microchip your pet during these visits – this is the best way of being reunited with your pet if they become lost and is now compulsory in dogs.
- Feeding – Puppies and kittens need more protein when developing, plus extra minerals to help them grow into strapping young adults. It’s best to feed specific kitten or puppy foods to ensure the correct nutrition is given.
- Training – Now is the time to get into good habits! Puppies will benefit from puppy classes, and all pets like a good feeding, exercise, and general routine they can feel comfortable in.
- Exercise – A decent amount of exercise is crucial for pets. Be sure not to over-exert puppies though, as this can lead to lameness later in life.
- Neutering – Kittens can be neutered from 5 months and puppies, 6 months. We have specific factsheets available on neutering for more information.
- Insurance – Unfortunately, despite our best efforts in looking after our best friends, injuries and illnesses are part of owning a pet. With pet insurance, at least the cost of treatment is the least of your worries.
Stage 2 – Adult
This is your pet’s prime! A few simple things to be aware of can help keep them in top shape!
- Annual healthchecks – a yearly check over and booster helps bolster your pet’s immunity and allows us to keep up with you and your pet and spot any health issues early.
- Obesity – Many pets are now overweight, which increases the risk of countless diseases. We can check your pet’s weight and offer advice for shedding the pounds if necessary.
- Teeth – Regular teeth cleaning and check-ups is the best way to monitor and treat any problems before it’s too late and teeth need removing. No one wants a gappy smile!
- Flea and Worming – Regular treatment for nasty parasites will help keep both you and your pet healthy.
Stage 3 – Senior
Pets start being considered mature, and then senior, from 8 years old. For large breed dogs, it’s even earlier. Things to consider include:
- Health checks – Older pets are at higher risk of diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Regular health checks, ideally six-monthly, can help spot issues early and make treatment more successful. Often pets that are ‘just getting old’ actually have entirely treatable conditions – so please bring them to see us!
- Feeding – As pets slow down they need less protein and more of other nutrients. Specific senior diets are more appropriately tailored to the needs of your older pet.
Hopefully, you have found this a useful introduction to the main pet life stages. We are always happy to discuss things further with you, and give your pet a check-up no matter what their age!