In the first months of the dog’s life it can be useful to get him used to relieving himself in a crate, since there may be the need to keep him in the house until completion of his vaccination cycle. The puppy can be conditioned to relieve himself in a crate or, for example, on the terrace of the house, although this is mostly valid for small dogs and can not in any way replace, once the vaccination cycle is finished, the four daily walks/outings necessary both for the fulfillment of physiological functions and to ensure the welfare of one’s dog.
When you expect the puppy to need to relieve himself (early in the morning, upon waking, and immediately after each of the three meals) try to gently put him in the crate and reward him as soon as he relieves himself.
The use of the crate should be limited to the period in which the dog is unable to go outside. An adult dog is able to resist relieving himself for up to six consecutive hours during the day, so there is no reason to replace the walk with a crate.
Certainly throughout the year, regardless of the weather, dogs must always have a water bowl available. Especially in the summer season, available fresh water must never be lacking.
However, care must be taken, especially during and after intense physical activity, that dogs do not “binge” on water, drinking large amounts of it in a short time, as this could increase the risk of possible gastric dilation. To avoid this it is important that dogs, especially in summer, are not left in the car in the heat or in the direct sun; cooling mats and bandanas exist on the market that can help keep dogs cooler and decrease the desire to swallow large amounts of water in order to cool off.
In the end, it is a good practice to check that the amount of water consumed during the day is more or less regular over time: an increased daily intake of water can be an indication of certain pathologies (such as diabetes, pyometra, kidney failure) and it is better to report this fact to your veterinarian.
Like all living things, dogs undergo physiological changes during old age. You should pay attention to any abnormal symptoms and not hesitate to contact your trusted veterinarian; an elderly animal also needs more frequent checks than a young and healthy dog. A trusted veterinary physician can establish a specific plan for blood testing.
Particular attention must be given to diet, which must be balanced in order to control weight; older dogs tend to move less and put on weight if calorie intake is not adjusted accordingly. Maintaining regular physical activity is a fundamental prerequisite for controlling a dog’s body weight: it must not be traumatic or exaggerated, as elderly dogs can have more fragile and aching joints. In old age it is also necessary to take into account a reduction of the senses, with a more or less marked weakening of sight, hearing and smell; an aspect to take into account during daily life, helping elderly dogs in their movements and conduct of daily activities when appropriate.
Thanks to advances in science, there are now several complementary feeds that can improve the quality of life of elderly dogs. In the presence of well-established pathologies, it is always necessary to go to the veterinarian and follow the indicated therapy, but especially in the presence of chronic diseases, in which the use of drugs for long periods of time can lead to sometimes important side effects (all the more so if the dog is weak), complementary feed can be a valid support to the well-being of the animal.
Among the most useful and most often employed for elderly dogs are those based on glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, able to keep the joints mobile and slow down the osteoarthritis process, and those for the immune system, which are intended to support the immune defenses which in an elderly dog are physiologically lower. Older dogs, precisely because of their diminished defenses, are more prone to gastrointestinal disorders, canine coughing and dermatitis.
If your dog drinks a lot (more than 1L of water a day for a weight of 10kg) and urinates a lot, there are clues for thinking about a kidney problem.
In a healthy animal, if there are no predisposing pathologies such as Leishmaniasis, the first kidney problems appear more commonly after 5 years of age.
Immune defenses allow animals to protect themselves from pathogens that come into daily contact with their bodies. Every time this type of defense fails to carry out its function in an optimal way, ilnesses can develop.
For this reason it is good to try to reinforce immune defenses with the appropriate complementary feed to permit the body to be ready for the moment when it comes in contact with pathogens.
It is important to strengthen the immune defences during the most stressful periods for your pet or as a result of travel and/or introduction of new members into the household.
Yes. There are breeds, especially those of large size, predisposed to the development of joint problems, both from a very young age and during growth, but especially in geriatric age.
Cats learn to use the litter box during the first weeks of life (usually by the fourth). If a kitten could not be with his mother or if he comes off the street, it may be that he does not yet know how to use the litter box even at a few months of life or as an adult. To get used to it, you must first introduce him to it, putting him inside so that he can explore and smell it. If it does not come naturally for him to dig in the litter box, you can dig yourself with one finger to show him the action. If the cat is a kitten, put him regularly two or three times in the litter box during the day.
Cats generally like to cover their droppings, so they will be happy to have a place where they can do so and using the litter box should become a welcome habit. In case the cat insists on relieving himself outside of it, if you see him in the action of digging on the floor (or other surface), take him and put him gently inside the litter box. If he continues to relieve himself outside, take his droppings and put them inside the litter box, which should help him associate the litter box with relieving himself.
Some advice to make the litter box more welcoming: buy a large, deep box, place it in a quiet and possibly sheltered place, clean it every day and wash it once a week, choose a litter box without fragrance and, if the house is large, put two litter boxes in two different corners of the house (if the house has multiple floors, ideally one per floor).
Finally, consider the use of a natural litter free of toxic substances: in addition to being biodegradable and compostable, it can be easily disposed of in the toilet and does not make dust, minimizing the risk of allergies for the cat.
A cat can be considered elderly from about 10 years of age. Regardless of its age, a cat may initially show no signs of aging, especially if it is fit, and this may lead us not to notice its changing needs.
In general an elderly cat needs more rest, so it will tend to increase the time it passes sleeping or resting. We must respect this and assure it has numerous places where it can rest in peace. At the same time, it is necessary that the cat moves a little every day, for the benefit of the cardiovascular system, ideal weight and oxygenation of the tissues: if it does not come naturally to it, we can stimulate the cat with simple and quiet games.
An elderly cat could also be more sensitive to the cold: do not forget a warm place to rest, especially in winter; you can simply add a warm blanket to its kennel. The cat may also need help with its daily grooming: its fur, as it gets older, loses its quality and the cat may not be as meticulous as it used to be in cleaning itself. Brushing your cat daily is the ideal solution to keep its skin and coat healthy and avoid the formation of annoying hair balls.
The cat’s diet should also be regulated: as the cat ages, it needs to eat fewer calories and, moreover, it could experience weight problems, both in one sense (obesity) and another (excessive thinness). For this reason it is also advisable to intensify routine checks with the vetrinarian and be ready to tell him of any changes or strangeness that we have noticed in our cat.
Finally, what the elderly cat should never lack is peace of mind: eliminate or limit sources of stress (especially changes in environment or routine) and manage those that are unavoidable in accordance with its needs.
The health of an elderly cat (over 10 years of age) needs to be monitored more carefully than it typically does when the cat is a young adult. This is because aging leads to physiological changes in its body and, sometimes, the need arises to intervene, through nutrition or therapies prescribed by a veterinarian, in support of certain systems.
Complementary feeds (as animal supplements are called) can come in particularly handy during a cat’s old age, as they can provide nutrients to fill the deficiencies a cat may encounter. Complementary feeds provide a valuable help to support the immune system, useful on multiple occasions when you have an elderly cat in the house: states of physical debilitation, surgeries, seasonal changes, gastrointestinal disorders. As the cat’s age progresses, its immune system tends to weaken, partly due to the fact that its ability to digest and assimilate nutrients worsens.
Bones and joints can also experience problems, and a complementary feed specifically formulated to support the health of bones and joints can help slow down their deterioration.
The fur of the elderly cat also deteriorates: it becomes more sparse and loses its consistency. There are specific complementary feeds to promote the health of fur and coats which can also be very useful to stimulate the natural turnover of the fur.
That many cats are prone to urinary problems is no mystery; the situation can get worse with old age. It will be the veterinarian who assesses the situation and decides on possible therapies; however, a complementary feed for the well-being of the urinary tract, formulated specifically for cats, can decrease the risk of bacterial proliferation in the urinary tract.
As for us, water is essential for cats’ survival. Generally, a cat should drink between 50 and 100 mL per kg of body weight per day; this amount varies, however, depending on age (kittens and elderly cats drink more) and environmental conditions (it is normal that in summer cats drinks more).
How do you know if your cat drinks enough? It is important to know this, as proper hydration helps, among other things, to prevent kidney and urinary tract problems and dysfunctions. If you want to make sure your cat drinks enough, try putting the recommended amount of water it should drink in a day in its bowl and check how long it takes to finish it.
Cats love fresh water and, even more so, moving water: for this reason many of them love to drink from open taps. There are now numerous models of cat fountains on the market, ideal for always providing fresh water to our cat. Another useful trick is to put more bowls with water at different points in the house.
An elderly cat requires particular attention: make sure that it always has plenty of fresh water.
Regardless of whether the cat will live an exclusively domestic life or will have the opportunity to leave the house (in the garden or beyond the boundaries of the property), during the first months of life it is advisable to bring him to his veterinarian for a thorough examination in which the health of the animal will be assessed and, if he is in good condition, prophylactic vaccination may be carried out. Up to about two months of age the kitten is protected by the immune defenses it received from its mother through breastfeeding (the maternal colostrum is in fact rich in white blood cells), as long as the mother was regularly vaccinated; between two to three months of age the first vaccinations can be carried out, so that the kitten is protected from major diseases.
With the first injection the cat will receive vaccines against feline herpesvirus, feline calicivirus, feline panleukopenia virus and feline leukemia virus (tetravalent vaccination). At the discretion of the veterinarian and according to the lifestyle that the cat will lead – for example, if it will be taken abroad or exposed to other felines – it may also be appropriate to vaccinate against rabies. After about three weeks from the first injection the cat will receive the second vaccine dose and at one year of life will receive the first booster. Depending on the cat’s lifestyle and health status, the veterinarian may decide on a personalized booster schedule.
In general, there may not be problems having a dog and a cat live together. Many examples of happy cohabitation exist, but at the same time it is important to point out that some dogs are not at all adapted to living with a small cat: it isn’t a question of breed or size, but of subjective characteristics. Even if you are able to establish cohabitation, you cannot always expect that a real, true “friendship” will come about: in most cases dogs and cats limit themselves to tolerating one another, and that is fine. In some cases – again, it depends on subjective characteristics – they develop more intense relationships, which represent the exception, not the rule.
If you are preparing to bring a kitten into a home where you already live with a dog, the first piece of advice is to allow the dog and cat to smell and get to know one another in total safety: this means doing so in a way that allows you to stop the dog immediately if it demonstrates aggressive behavior and provides the cat an escape route. The second rule to observe is not to sacrifice the dog’s space, while at the same time allowing the cat to move around the house and get to know it: do not ever confine the dog in a room or a crate, it will feel unjustly punished due to the arrival of the cat. If the atmosphere is peaceful, as days pass you can move onto transparent barriers (a gate, chairs blocking access to a room…) and, subsequently, gradually remove them. It is fundamental not to lose sight of the animals during the first few days, to watch their interactions; when you are not at home we advise you separate them until you are certain that a peaceful cohabitation has been established. It is important, finally, to separate the areas where the two animals eat and rest, so that each has their own dedicated space.