Choosing a Pet
Pets are wonderful companions and provide a lifetime of friendship and love, but bringing a new pet into your home is a major step you should not take lightly. Woodland Springs Veterinary Hospital believes client education is the key to responsible pet ownership. When you think you are ready to add a new pet to the family, you should ask yourself and your family the following questions:
- Why do I want a pet?
- How much time can I devote to caring for a new pet?
- Does a family member have health issues (such as allergies) that may complicate the decision?
- What type of lifestyle do I have? Do I travel? If so, who can take care of my new pet when I am out of town?
Once you have decided to add a pet to your family, you must decide if you want a dog or a cat. Both animals make wonderful companions. Dogs call for more attention and training than cats, but they are generally more willing to please family members. Cats need attention and training and can by quite affectionate, but their main advantage stems from the fact that they do not need to go outside to go to the bathroom. Regardless of if you choose a dog or cat, you must ensure your new pet will be housed and fed appropriately and has access to necessary veterinary care.
We offer free consultation and advice for our clients who are trying to choose the right dog or cat. We also provide extensive education for new pet owners.
- Dogs are generally more attentive to their owners than cats.
- Dogs are fairly easy to train.
- Dogs travel easier than cats.
- Dogs often require more initial training to learn appropriate behavior than cats.
- You have to walk them several times a day so they can relieve themselves.
- They cannot be left alone for extended periods of time.
- Dogs usually require periodic maintenance like bathing and grooming.
Getting Your Dog
This is where you will need to do your research. It is vital to choose a dog that will fit in best with your lifestyle because not all dogs’ behaviors and temperaments are the same. First, ask yourself a few questions. What size dog is the ideal size for you? What level of activity do you desire in a dog? Do you like long- or short-haired dogs? Do you want a purebred dog or one from a shelter?
After you have answered these questions, your search for the perfect dog will begin. If you want a purebred dog, you need to find a reputable breeder that will ensure his or her puppies are healthy, have visited a vet and received the necessary dog vaccinations. You should obtain your puppy’s health records and registration papers as well as a sales contract that outlines any guarantees upon purchase. If you decide you would like to get a mixed-breed or rescue dog, be sure to locate a facility that is clean and properly cares for its animals. Your new puppy should look clean, healthy, active and be at least eight to 10 weeks old with no eye or nose discharge. Before you retrieve your new furry companion, schedule an appointment with your vet so he or she can examine the puppy to ensure there are no obvious health problems. If you have other pets at home, introduce your new puppy slowly after your veterinarian has made sure he or she is healthy. Your other pets may not be too keen on meeting the new family member, so keep a watchful eye on them to make sure an altercation doesn’t occur. Finally, if there are young children in the house, teach them how to properly handle and interact with your new puppy so they don’t accidently harm or injure him or her.
The size of your new dog may stem from necessity or personal preference. If you have the space to house a bigger dog, you should be aware of a few things. First, larger dogs generally do not live as long as small-breed dogs, and they tend to be more costly to maintain. They eat more food, and their grooming, bathing and veterinary bills are generally more expensive.
Some dogs require more exercise and activity time than others. Terriers, both large and small breeds, are active dogs and tend to be more difficult to train. Border Collies call for high levels of attention. They are working dogs and are happiest when they have something to do. While they are considered to be one of the smartest breeds because of their ease of trainability, they require training and lots of attention.
Labradors and Golden Retrievers have an easy-going and loving temperament, but they are quite energetic. If you are an older adult looking for a new furry companion, a quieter puppy or an adult rescue dog make be the best pet for you.
Grooming is often up to personal preference, but you should know that, regardless of size, all dogs shed. If your choose a long-haired pet, there will be an extra expense to groom him or her unless you learn how to groom your pet yourself. Also, regular trips to the groomer will help control the amount of dog hair found in the house.
Training is necessary if you want a well-behaved dog. Puppies need to be socialized and should learn to experience new situations at an early age. A dog’s window of learning and adapting to new experiences closes at approximately four months of age. At Woodland Springs Veterinary Hospital, our seasoned trainer, Hannelore Orkis, utilizes only positive training methods and makes training your new dog fun. She teaches you how to effectively communicate with your dog and helps him or her become the ideal canine citizen.
Spay and Neuter
Our experience and pet research in general show that dogs are better pets when they are spayed or neutered. Every six months, female dogs have their heat cycles, which are messy and attract unneutered male dogs to your home. Unneutered male dogs will urine-mark their territory, which makes housebreaking them a difficult task. Research shows spaying or neutering your dog will help him or her lead healthier lives. Spaying female dogs at an early age decreases their risk of developing mammary tumors and eliminates their risk of pyometra (uterine infection). Neutering male dogs helps decrease their risk of contracting prostate complications as well as tumors whose growth depends on male hormones.
- You don’t have to walk cats every day.
- Cats easily acclimate to their litter boxes.
- Cats, in general, require less exercise than dogs.
- Cats can take care of themselves when you go out of town if you leave them a sufficient amount of food and water.
- Unless they have long, thick hair, cats don’t require much grooming or bathing.
- Cats have a tendency to sharpen their claws and like to retreat to high places.
- They tend to be more stressed in new situations as they age.
- Cats are more independent than dogs (which can be a pro for some people!).
- They generally do not take well to traveling.
Getting Your Cat
Choosing a new cat or kitten takes as much research as choosing a new dog. There are many wonderful cats that need love and attention at local animal shelters and rescue groups. If you want specific features or personalities in your new kitten, know that purebred kittens are more readily available now than ever before. If you desire a specific color in a cat, consider the Siamese, Himalayan, Birman or Ocicat breeds. If you want a specific size attribute, consider the Maine Coon or diminutive Singapura breeds. If you’re looking for specific physical features in a cat, consider the tailless Manx or the distinctly eared Scottish Fold or American Curl.
When you get your new kitten, choose a location that is clean and free of offensive odors. Choose a cat that is friendly, eight to 10 weeks old, has no eye or nose discharge and has received the necessary cat vaccinations. Be sure to take care when introducing a new kitten to established household pets. Aquainting a new cat or kitten to other pets in your home can take some time – like several days or even weeks. Do not expect your pets to love your new furry companion at first sight. There may even be some slight confrontation. Allow your new friend to explore his or her new surroundings on his or her own accord. Also, be sure to show any young children in the home the correct way to interact with and handle your new kitten so no one gets harmed in any way.
Different breeds of cats have different activity levels. Generally, short-haired cats are more active than long-haired cats. Persian cats are of a distinguished breed that is often lazy and expects their humans to cater to their every whim. The Abysinian and Russian Blue varieties tend to be inquisitive, active, playful and will keep themselves busy for extended periods of time. It can be a challenge to select a cat that will not rearrange or knock over knickknacks, so keep that in mind when selecting your kitten.
Cats are known for their personal grooming tendencies, but long-hared cats need to be brushed to keep shedding and matting to a minimum. Short-haired cats can even benefit from the occasional brushing or professional grooming session to keep natural oils evenly distributed throughout their coats, which helps keep them shiny and healthy.
Cats are usually easy to litter-box train. But you must keep their litter boxes clean if you don’t want them to relieve themselves somewhere else in your home.
It is possible to train some cats to do tricks, but it takes some imagination on the owner’s part because cats have a natural tendency to be independent and work apart from humans. Rewards and repetition is key if you want to teach your cat how to do some tricks.
Spay and Neuter
As with dogs, spaying and neutering cats is in their best medical interest and stops several unfavorable behaviors. Most female cats begin their heat cycles at six months of age. Unlike dogs, unaltered female cats will go through their heat cycles every three weeks until they breed. It is important to have female cats spayed before they enter their reproductive cycles in order to avoid all the bothersome symptoms that come along with them. Male cats that are not neutered, as well as unaltered female cats, will spray certain vertical areas with urine, which produces a big mess and an especially offensive odor.
Cats have a propensity to scratch various surfaces as a means of removing old layers from their claws, which often destroys the surface on which they scratch. Providing your cat with a specified scratching post may prevent damage to furniture, walls, flooring and other household surfaces. You can find a wide array of scratching posts at most pet supply stores.
If you decide you want to prevent your cat from scratching altogether, we offer surgical declawing using a laser procedure. Using the laser procedure results in less pain and bleeding than traditional declawing methods, and it is for this reason we only offer laser-declawing procedures.
Indoor vs. Outdoor Cats
As a general rule of thumb, indoor cats have a longer life expectancy than cats that are allowed to roam outside as they please. The average life expectancy of an indoor-only cat is 12 years, while that of an outdoor cat is just two years. To protect your cat from an untimely death or disappearance, it is best to keep him or her indoors. Outdoor cats must deal with loose dogs, vehicles and other cats and often sustain wounds from coming into contact with them. Additionally, free-roaming cats are exposed to deadly diseases, like feline leukemia and feline AIDS or FIV, which can pass along easily from cat to cat.
Regardless of if you choose to add a new puppy or kitten to your family, it is necessary to start your relationship off right by having your veterinarian give your pet a physical exam. At Woodland Springs Veterinary Hospital, our veterinarians examine pets for internal and external parasites, put them on heartworm preventative care and administer the appropriate pet vaccinations. It is our goal to inform you about all aspects of your pet’s health to make your experience with him or her as pleasant as possible.