Puppy and Kitten Care


Congratulations on getting your new puppy or kitten. We hope that they provide many years of fun, friendship, loyalty, and love. The veterinarians and staff at Franklin Ranch Pet Hospital are here to help you as you start on your relationship with your newest family member. The most important gift that we can give you is the knowledge that will make you better able to care for your pet, at any stage of its life.

Health Exams

Obviously the place to start learning about your new pet is during your initial puppy or kitten exams. These exams are scheduled every 3 to 4 weeks and are essential as your young one is rapidly changing and growing. During these initial exams, we will evaluate them from head-to-tail, inside and out, looking for problems they were born with, and issues that have come up since then. We will examine skin, teeth, eyes, bones and muscles, hearts and lungs, the abdominal organs, and genitalia. We will discuss behavior, nutrition, parasite control, vaccinations, the best age to spay or neuter, what common disease to look for, and what to do when they are sick. We’ll inoculate them with the appropriate vaccines given their age, and we’ll also de-worm them.

At the appropriate age, we will also send you home with a sample of what we believe to be the main heartworm and parasite control drug best suited for your pet.


Food provides the nutrition upon which your puppy or kitten will grow. Therefore, we recommend feeding only the highest-quality food available. Our preferred hospital diet is Hill’s Science Diet® puppy or kitten food. Hill’s has done industry leading research into the proper balance of ingredients that will provide optimum growth for your puppy or kitten. We also strongly recommend that you closely monitor your new pet to ensure that they are not becoming overweight. Although free-feeding is the easiest, and may work well for many pets, there are some animals that need to be meal-fed, otherwise they will become obese.


Food provides the nutrition upon which your puppy or kitten will grow. Therefore, we recommend feeding only the highest-quality food available. Our preferred hospital diet is Hill’s Science Diet® puppy or kitten food. Hill’s has done industry leading research into the proper balance of ingredients that will provide optimum growth for your puppy or kitten. We also strongly recommend that you closely monitor your new pet to ensure that they are not becoming overweight. Although free-feeding is the easiest, and may work well for many pets, there are some animals that need to be meal-fed, otherwise they will become obese.


It is very important to keep your puppy/kitten at home and not take to pet stores or parks (dog or public) until the entire puppy/kitten series of vaccinations are finished.

Just like children, puppies and kittens need regular vaccinations to help prevent serious or deadly diseases. It is very important that you keep to the vaccination schedule set by your doctors as closely as possible. The timing of the vaccines is critical to the effectiveness of the vaccines. If they are given too early, they may be ineffective due to interference with antibodies absorbed from the mother’s milk. If not given correctly, the vaccines may not fully protect your new pet. It is also important that your pet receive its vaccinations from a licensed veterinarian. Buying vaccines and administering them yourself is highly discouraged. The vaccines may not have been handled or administered properly and may be ineffective. Most grooming and boarding facilities will not accept any vaccinations given by anyone but a licensed veterinarian.

The vaccines that each pet receives will be individually based, but follow the general guidelines below:



What is in each vaccine?

Rabies is a zoonotic (people can get it) virus that is transmitted via the saliva of the infected animal. Once infected the virus travels up the nervous system and invades the brain. Vaccination is very effective at preventing infection. Most pets become infected from wildlife as all warm blooded mammals can carry the virus. Skunks, bats, and raccoons are the primary carriers. In Sacramento County dogs must be vaccinated after 16 weeks old, cats can be vaccinated as young as 12 weeks.

For Puppies:

DHPP(or DA2PP): Distemper, Hepatitis (Adenovirus 2), Parvo, and Parainfluenza. This is usually given 4 times during the first 16-17 weeks.

Distemper is a highly contagious, occasionally fatal, viral disease. It is especially dangerous to puppies, although more than 50% of dogs will show only mild signs of being sick. Common first signs are consistent with many illnesses, including listlessness and decreased appetite, along with nasal and ocular discharge. In some dogs, the virus invades the brain, causing neurological signs such as seizures, muscle twitching, and weakness.

Hepatitis is an infectious viral disease that can affect dogs of all ages, and be fatal to some. Although liver disease is the most serious concern, most dogs have multiple systems involved, including the eyes, kidneys, lymphatic system, and brain.

Parainfluenza is a highly contagious upper respiratory viral infection that causes Kennel Cough, a disease similar to bronchitis in people. Healthy adult dogs usually recover from it. Puppies and older dogs are at greater risk of developing pneumonia and other serious complications.

Parvovirus is very serious viral disease that attacks all rapidly growing cells. In puppies less than 6 weeks old, it is usually fatal because it tends to affect the heart. In older puppies, it usually affects the intestinal tract, causing bloody diarrhea and vomiting. If treated aggressively (hospitalization, IV fluids, and anti-vomiting and antibiotic drugs), most puppies will survive an infection with Parvo.

Leptospirosis is usually added to the last two DHPP vaccines (it is then called DHLPP). Leptospirosis, or Lepto as it is sometimes called, is a bacterial infection that can cause liver and kidney failure, as well as affect our blood cells. It is the only disease (besides rabies) that we vaccinate against that can be transmitted to humans. Dogs are usually exposed to Lepto in one of two ways, either through contact with other affected animals or from contact with soil that has been infected.

Bordetella is a bacterial infection that often plays a role in making Kennel Cough worse. This vaccine is squirted up the nose, providing a first line of defense. The vaccine is given once a year, starting about the 12th week. Not all dogs require the Bordetella vaccine, the risk of exposure determines whether or not it is given.

Franklin Ranch Pet Hospital does not currently recommend the Corona, Giardia, or Lyme vaccines, and therefore, we do not carry them.

For Kittens:

FVRCP (Feline Rhinotracheitis, Calici, and Panleukopenia) is usually given 3 times, 3 weeks apart. It is very important to keep on track with this vaccination.

Rhinotracheitis is like the common cold in people, but it can cause serious problems for kittens and older cats. It can cause sneezing, fever, loss of appetite, inflammation around the eyes, and ulcers in the mouth.

Calici can cause sneezing, fever, loss of appetite, inflammation around the eyes, and ulcers in the mouth. Healthy adult cats usually recover from it. Kittens and older cats are at greater risk of serious complications.

Panleukopenia (feline distemper) is a very serious and often fatal disease affecting kittens. It is similar to the parvovirus that affects dogs. Symptoms include loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, high fever, and depression.

Feline Leukemia (FeLV) is usually given at the last two exams for your kitten. The vaccine usually causes the kittens to feel ill for 2 to 3 days after the vaccine. Feline leukemia is one of the most common viral causes of illness and death in cats. Our understanding of, and vaccine recommendations for, feline leukemia are actively being researched, and our recommendations will likely change as we learn more about the disease and how best to prevent it. Feline Leukemia is a cancer-causing virus that can suppress the cat’s ability to fight infectious. Kittens affected early in life tend not to survive very long, whereas older cats can survive for 5 or more years after being infected. The doctor may recommend that your pet be tested for FeLV prior to receiving a FeLV vaccination.

Parasite Control

Heartworm disease is transmitted by infected mosquitoes. Heartworm disease occurs when adult worms begin growing in the heart and lungs of your pet. Heartworm positive mosquitoes can be found year-round in the Sacramento area, therefore, we recommend year-round prevention. Dogs over 6 months old and not previously on heartworm prevention require a heartworm test prior to starting heartworm prevention drugs.

Fleas are small, flat ectoparasites (on the outside of your pet) that can be a simple nuisance, or can transmit more severe disease. Their saliva can also be an extreme allergen for some dogs and cats, causing severe skin irritation. Use caution if you decide to use over-the-counter flea treatments for your kitten. Many dog products contain insecticides that can be fatal to your cat.

Tapeworms are transmitted by fleas (the tapeworm egg is inside the flea, when your pet eats the flea, the egg hatches). You will know your pet has tapeworms if you see small white worms (they look like a grain of rice) in your pets’ feces, or by seeing small tan objects (like sesame seeds) in their bed. Tapeworms require a special medication, but also require active flea control, or your pet will become infected again very quickly.

Ticks are another ectoparasite that can infect our pets. We are fortunate in that the vast majority of ticks in northern California do not carry the tick borne diseases common in other parts of the country. Cats rarely get ticks because they groom themselves so frequently. If your pet does get a tick, simply pull it out with a small pair of forceps, tweezers, or needle-nose pliers. Don’t try smothering or burning them. They can be difficult to kill, so we recommend flushing them. Ask us about effective tick preventative collars.

Intestinal parasites (hookworms, whipworms, and roundworms) are the most common parasites that affect our pets. In large numbers they can affect the growth and development of your pet. They can also be transmitted to people, although it is difficult. At Franklin Ranch, we believe so strongly in early and constant parasite control that de-worming medication is included with every puppy and kitten exam at no charge. The drugs that your pet should be on for heartworm control also act as a de-wormer when given every month.

Coccidia and Giardia are internal parasites that typically cause watery, mucusy diarrhea, with or without appetite changes or vomiting. If your puppy or kitten is infected with either one of these organisms, we will diagnose it by doing a fecal examination. Both diseases are treatable, but with different medications than are used to treat other conditions. Giardia is potentially transmittable to people, so we strongly recommend thoroughly cleaning up your pet’s feces if they are infected with Giardia.


We prefer to neuter and spay dogs between the ages of 5-1/2 and 9-1/2 months, earlier for the small dogs and later for the large and giant breeds. Pets that have been spayed or neutered are less likely to get into trouble, because they are less likely to wander away. We know that spaying before the first heat will give the female dogs a 95% reduction in their chances of developing mammary tumors; they also cannot then develop an infection of the uterus (a pyometra) or uterine cancers. Neutered male dogs are at a much reduced risk of prostate disease, perianal tumors, and testicular cancer.

Cats are usually spayed or neutered between 5-1/2 and 6-1/2 months. Cats in heat or pregnant can also be spayed.

How to Puppy and Kitten Proof Your House

Kittens and puppies are naturally inquisitive, which can often lead to serious injury. It is important to get down on their level and look for potential problems. Here are some tips on how you can make your house safer for your new arrival.

  • Keep electrical wires out of reach or covered up—young animals love to chew when they’re teething.
  • Chocolate, grapes, and onions can cause minor problems, or they can be fatal. Keep them (and ideally all human food) out of their reach.
  • Never give turkey, chicken or rib bones as a treat. They can splinter and cause serious injury. Hard bones (knuckles, beef thigh bones) can make great chew toys, but can also break your puppies’ teeth.
  • Alcohol and coffee (especially with sweetener and milk in it) may be attractive to some pets. Make sure they aren’t helping themselves to your liquid refreshments. They may cause diarrhea or worse.
  • Keep common household killers locked up-–-cleaning agents, bleach, ammonia, disinfectants, drain cleaner, oven cleaner, paint, gasoline, or rat poison.
  • Check the antifreeze-–-pets are attracted to the odor and sweet taste of antifreeze. Store it high and tightly sealed, wiping up any spills on the garage floor. Window-washing solution also contains antifreeze.
  • Keep off the grass-–-If you treat your lawn with chemicals, keep pets away. Insecticides, however, are generally safe once they are dry. Read and follow label directions carefully.
  • Puppies and kittens grow rapidly. Collars and harnesses can be rapidly outgrown, leading to serious wounds.
  • Many prescription and over-the-counter drugs can be harmful or fatal. This includes heart medications, ADD drugs, antihistamines, and pain relievers.
  • Don’t leave plastic bags out. Inquisitive young animals, especially kittens, can suffocate.
  • Watch out for hot stove tops, irons, coffee pots, and space heaters.
  • Keep hot tubs and swimming pools off-limits with a fence. Pool covers can work, but animals may try to walk on them, become trapped, and drown. You can also purchase a ramp that installs on the side of your pool to help them climb out, if they do fall in.
  • Keep holly, mistletoe, and especially Christmas tree tinsel out of reach. Poisonous plants include lilies, philodendron, dieffenbachia, elephant ear, eucalyptus, spider plants, azalea, ivy, amaryllis, oleander, boxwood, and Jerusalem cherry and plant bulbs.
  • Always use a fireplace screen.
  • Open trash cans are a great source of fun. Watch out for dental floss, yarn, sewing needles, thread, string, ribbons, cigarette butts, rubber bands, balloons, underwear, feminine hygiene products, and even pantyhose.

How may we help you?

Have a question? Our contact information is below, please don't hesitate to contact us during business hours. If you need immediate assistance, please call us directly at (916) 683-4000.


10207 Franklin Blvd.
Elk Grove, CA 95757
Click here for directions.


Phone: (916) 683-4000
Fax: (916) 683-4040
Email: info@franklinpet.com


Mon-Sun: 8 am - 6 pm

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