Published in the PRG 2019, summer edition
Mimi Vishoot, DVM
Sierra Oaks Veterinary Services
Summer break is almost behind us, leaving fond memories of fun with our families, both the humankind and the furry, four-legged kind! As the days get shorter and our focus turns back toward the school year ahead, why not consider the “school year” for your pets as well?
If you have a new puppy or kitten, or if you are hoping to bring one into your home, now is a great time to ramp up your fun and learning! Puppies need to be fully vaccinated before they venture out to visit local parks and trails. We are lucky to have trainers in our area who hold puppy socialization/kindergarten classes for the youngsters. The window for thoughtfully acclimating pups to all the strange sights and sounds the world has to offer lasts from about 3 to 14 weeks of age. After that, most pups become more skeptical about new things and this is when they may start to develop more fear-based responses to stimuli. Meeting new people and other puppies, not to mention developing a relationship with an experienced trainer, is priceless for future good behavior!
More mature dogs can still “learn new tricks” for sure! Obedience training, Canine Good Citizenship classes, Canine Nose Work, agility, tracking… the list is pretty long, and our local trainers and veterinarians can help you determine what activity would be safe and appropriate for your dog.
Kitties thrive with lots of enrichment in and around the home. Places to climb, hide, and scratch are fun to create and are imperative to keeping your kitties happy. Provide opportunities for them to chase, stalk, and hunt “prey.” Plenty of options for freshwater, including fountains, are great for their bodies and their minds! Place extra litter boxes in the house so your cat or cats have choices of where to do their “business.” One more than the number of cats you have is recommended. Be mindful of feeding appropriate types and amounts of food. Felines are truly carnivorous creatures and canned, meat-based diets more closely mimic what they might eat in “the wild” than any type of dry food. Plus, canned food adds much more moisture to their diet, which helps promote long-lasting health.
Intermixing fun and learning among your family members and your pets is enriching for everyone. Don’t let the colder days and longer nights lead to mental or physical inactivity for you or your pets. Let’s all keep active, continue learning, cherish our loved ones, and enjoy long, healthy lives! And remember, Have Fun!!