A first time for everything with your dog or cat

As a brand-new dog or cat owner, you will be experiencing a lot of firsts together. The first walk, their first time being left alone… In this article, we will tell you all about those first times, so you know what to expect.

Your dog’s first visit to the vet

When adopting a dog or pup, it is recommended to choose a vet in advance and visit them as soon as your pet has arrived. Pups require more frequent vet visits than healthy adult dogs, which is mainly due to vaccinations. The first time visiting a vet can be quite stressful, so it is important to make the experience as pleasant as possible for your pup or dog. A positive first experience will set the tone for future visits. You can make the vet visit a bit more pleasant by preparing yourself properly and bringing your pet’s documents. After all, if you know what to expect your pet will feel more at ease as well. If the waiting room happens to be busy, consider going around the block instead. Reward your dog for good behaviour, for example when it doesn’t bark or cry, or when it sits calmly. Praise it with words or give it a healthy snack. This will help your pet develop a positive association with visits to the vet.

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Dietary advice for castrated animals

You can have your dog or cat sterilised or castrated. This will usually affect their dietary needs; once castrated, the metabolism of a dog changes. Their energy needs tends to drop. Yarrah offers a special type of food for sterilised cats, containing all necessary nutrients for a balanced diet.

Food allergies in dogs and cats

Just like humans, dogs and cats can be intolerant or allergic to certain nutrients, which can be quite the nuisance. It means your pet may develop all kinds of symptoms by eating ‘regular’ food. Some examples of well-known intolerances in dogs and cats are:

  • Allergies to one or multiple types of (animal) proteins
  • Allergies to cereals/gluten

There are several symptoms that may indicate food intolerance or allergy, including:

  • Itching
  • Skin problems
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhoea
  • Changes in their stool

An elimination diet is a great way to find out whether your pet is allergic to certain foods, and to what nutrients specifically. Yarrah offers various types of food for a special diet, such as grain-free food for dogs, grain-free food for cats, as well as ‘single protein’ products. These are products that contain only one source of protein, which makes it suitable for animals that aren’t allergic to all protein sources.

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The first walk with your dog

Enough exercise is very healthy for your dog! Taking your dog for its first walk is a new experience for the both of you. It should be noted that there is a difference between walking an adult dog versus a pup. Here are some tips for the first walk with your pup:  

  • Pups need a large number of short walks. Long walks may overburden their muscles and joints.
  • A good rule of thumb is 1 minute per walk x the pups age in weeks.
  • Take a moment to rest along the way, and feel free to bring some water and a snack.
  • Keep a close eye on your pup. End the walk when you notice fatigue.

Did you adopt an adult dog? It is probably used to being walked. Still, the first walk together can be stressful. The new environment is filled with new impressions for your pet. Give your dog enough time to absorb those impressions. Let it snuffle without pulling the leash; it is simply getting to know the environment. And if your dog has trouble walking on a leash, be sure to practice several times a day. Teach your dog, calmly, that its place is by your side and reward good behaviour, for example when your dog is walking properly and isn’t pulling.

Leaving your dog alone for the first time

In a perfect world, you would spend every waking second near your dog, especially at first. But in reality, you will have to go where you pet isn’t allowed, such as the hair salon or a friend or relative with an allergy. In these situations, it is important that your dog knows how to be alone. The process of learning is gradual. Do not leave your dog alone for hours right off the bat. Teach it that you will always return after a while, by staying away for a short period of time the first time around and building it up gradually. 

Leaving your cat alone for the first time

Leaving your cat or kitten alone is something that takes time to build up gradually, just like with dogs. Start with an hour, for example,  and extend their alone time step by step. Keep a close eye on your cat’s behaviour as you return. If your cat comes off relaxed and content, it probably has no issues being alone. But if your cat appears nervous or displays behaviour that is different than usual, being left alone for such a long time might be a problem. In any case, provide enough water, food, a sleeping spot and something to play with.

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