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Cosa hanno in comune cani e gatti quando sono cuccioli?

What do dogs and cats have in common when they are puppies?

There are 110 million cats and 90 million dogs living in Europe, according to the latest report from the European Pet Food Federation (Fediaf).

Studies conducted in recent years confirm what their human companions already knew: Dogs and cats alleviate symptoms of loneliness, depression, and stress, among other mental health benefits, which (more than) make up for scratched couches and chewed socks. However, many families are still dealing with the arrival of a puppy for the first time, so what should be considered to ensure the health and well-being of the new family member? Interestingly, in their early stages, dogs and cats have more in common than it might seem.


It is best for these animals to stay with their mother and the rest of the litter for the first eight weeks of life. But if, for whatever reason, a puppy has been weaned early and lacks the care and attention of its mother, it is important that both dogs and cats have their needs met.

In both cases it is necessary to create a safe environment to spend the first few hours, for example a cardboard box with towels or quilted blankets. Dogs and cats are born deaf, blind, totally dependent and unable to regulate their temperature. To avoid hypothermia, in the first six weeks of life it is advisable to maintain the temperature of the place where they are kept between 29 and 32 degrees, with a heater or bags of water wrapped in blankets, which will be removed gradually.

Maternal colostrum contains antibodies that stimulate their immune system and can never be replaced by cow, sheep or goat's milk. During the first month of life, orphaned puppies can only be fed artificial milk, specially designed for newborn animals, to be taken with the help of a bottle or syringe.

Veterinarians remind you that in the first week of life, dog and cat puppies must be fed at intervals of two to four hours. As the weeks progress, feeding can be spaced every four to six hours. Breastfeeding puppies also have in common the fact that they cannot regulate their intestinal movements on their own: they must be helped to evacuate 15 minutes after each feeding by stimulating the anogenital area with a flannel or wet gauze.

Nutrition and immune system

Starting from the third or fourth week, puppies and kittens develop baby teeth and can introduce solid food. Initially, a combination of bottle and food such as Advance Puppy for dogs or Advance Kitten for cats aged two to 12 months is recommended. This type of solid food, which can be mixed with formula to make it easier to chew, is specifically supplemented with immunoglobulins and nucleotides that help strengthen the puppy or kitten's natural defenses and barriers. The formula, based on chicken and rice as the main ingredients, covers the nutritional needs of proteins, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, which over the months support the development of the immune system.

Starting from the eighth week for cats and from the twelfth for dogs, the vaccination calendar begins, which will be guided by the veterinarian. In Spain there are no mandatory vaccinations for cats - except rabies, which is mandatory when traveling abroad - although the trivalent feline vaccine is recommended, which prevents panleukopenia, calicivirus and rhinotracheitis. Dogs must be vaccinated against diseases such as rabies, parvovirus, distemper and canine hepatitis and must not be taken out of the home until completing this first vaccination schedule. For this reason, dogs need to learn to do their business on a mat before going outside, and cats will naturally use the litter box within the first month.

The veterinary visit also includes internal and external deworming, which will guarantee the health of your furry companions and must be repeated periodically.

Finally, before returning home, the correct identification of the puppies via a microchip, which is inserted intradermally by the vet, will allow them to be located and recovered in case of loss.

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