Los Angeles pet lovers.
Alisa Merlin’s Pet Advice
I’ve been a foster mom every year for many years, and placed more animals than I can count. Make no mistake, taking care of any kind of infant is very time consuming and will cost money. Don’t even think of taking on the responsibility unless you are prepared for this. That being said, fostering has been some of the most rewarding work I’ve ever done. It has also been some of the most gut wrenching. Some of the babies are sick and some die. Most get big and I’m afraid they won’t find homes. When they do find loving moms and dads, I miss them. But I wouldn’t trade the tears for all the chocolate in Switzerland. It’s what I love to do. If you find yourself in this situation, let me offer some advice so that your tears will only be tears of joy.
Be sure your babies are clean and free of fleas. It’s ok to give little ones a bath in regular pet shampoo and use a flea comb to remove all pests. Just be sure to keep them very warm. After a snuggly bath they’ll sleep like, well, babies. Wash their rear ends every day. Urine and feces left on their little bodies will burn their skin. Washing will also stimulate them to go. This is important if they are less than 2 weeks old. (Their eyes would still be closed at this age.)
For feeding always use mother’s replacement milk. For dogs use Esbilac, for cats KMR. These are specifically formulated for cats and dogs. No goats milk, no cows milk. I don’t care what you add to it; unless you’re nursing a goat or cow this is wrong. I buy the powdered form that you reconstitute with water. It’s cheaper that way, and you’ll need a lot of it. I always use the pet nurser bottles and buy new nipples every time I get new babies. Tiny infants need to eat as often as every two hours. As they get older you can go to every four. At 4-5 weeks of age start mixing in canned food and start to wean.
Babies need to be wormed between 4 and 6 weeks of age. You’ll often see a loose stool caused by intestinal parasites. This is a good age for a vet trip. I don’t like vaccinating the little ones until they’re a bit older. As long as they aren’t around any other animals it’s fine to wait. Never vaccinate if they are sick with a runny nose or eyes. Wait until the infection has cleared up. Babies with colds respond very well to colostrum capsules. Open the capsule and mix it in with the food. They should eat it up like candy.
I’m lucky because several of my friends have pets that I’ve fostered. I get to see them grow up and bring joy and love to their new families, and they always remember me. It has helped me exercise my maternal instincts and feel the unconditional love that only an innocent baby gives. It’s an incredible feeling to be the most important part of a little animal’s world. It’s very time consuming and sometimes expensive, but the look I see in the new owners’ eyes when they take home their precious pet makes everything worthwhile.
(Alisa Merlin has over 20 years of experience as a Veterinary Technician and owns Petcare Professionals, an innovative house call service. She can be reached at 818-337-7364 or email firstname.lastname@example.org)
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