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Small Animal Pediatrics

Young cat at Penn Vets Ryan HospitalOur pediatricians are here not only to provide preventive health care such as vaccinations, but also to diagnose and treat disorders that are unique to puppies and kittens. Fading puppy or kitten syndrome? Growth abnormalities? Or just not doing well? Please see our pediatricians right away.

Our pediatricians are here to provide your puppy or kitten with all of the preventive programs, such as vaccinations, parasite control, nutritional advice, and other counseling, so that your pet gets off to a great start in life.

Should your young pet be ill, our specialists understand that puppies and kittens are not just small versions of adults, but that they have needs and illnesses that are unique to their age group.

Whether it is an infection or a hereditary disorder, we are here to diagnose the problem, offer treatment options, and provide recommendations for follow-up care.

The Section of Medical Genetics offers a unique pediatrics, genetics and reproduction clinic through the Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital. Clinics are conducted on Monday and Tuesday mornings and provide a dedicated time for hospital clients to meet with faculty and residents as well as fourth-year veterinary students.

The clinic is focused on the examination of animals with known or suspected inherited disorders, for which genetic counseling or special diagnostic studies may be required. The clinic also emphasizes pediatric preventive health programs and deals with evaluation of normal development of neonatal and growing puppies and kittens. It provides routine immunizations, treatment and prevention of parasitism as well as nutritional counseling and guidance.

Regarding reproduction, the clinic is a place for clients to discuss and explore all issues related to propagating successful, competent and sound breeding practices. Artificial insemination and assessment of fertility problems in both sexes of canine and feline species as well as advise regarding castration and spaying are offered.

This clinic is available to the public on a non-referral basis, and breeders and new puppy or kitten "parents" are encouraged to contact us. It also serves as a referral clinic for more complex disorders and problems related to pediatrics, genetics, and reproduction. Clients may also be referred here by their primary care veterinarian.

 

PennGen is a genetic testing facility operated through the Section of Medical Genetics at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine.

It is a collection of laboratories that coordinate as a not-for-profit unit, offering routine testing for a variety of genetic diseases, metabolic screening for inborn errors of metabolism, and a number of other diagnostic genetic services.

Resources include:

PennGen Diagnostic Services
Laboratory Contact
 Metabolic Screening, Fanconi Syndrome
and Urine Cystinuria Testing
215-898-3375
 DNA Testing, Blood Typing, Hematology 215-898-3375
 JDCM Testing 215-898-5703
JDCMtest@vet.upenn.edu

 

Resources for Clients

Hand Raising Kittens and Puppies

Hand Raising Kittens and puppies is a very rewarding job as a caregiver but is also a very big commitment. Just like newborns and infants, these kittens and puppies will rely solely on you for the first several weeks of their life. This outlined handout will guide you through the first several weeks of hand raising your new babies and hopefully answer any questions you may have as a new parent. All of the supplies you will need to be a successful parent can be purchased at your local pet store and are listed below. If you have more than one baby in your litter I recommend placing colored ribbons around their necks (not too tight) for identification – Remember to adjust the ribbon size as your baby grows. Keep a note book tracking each babies color ribbon and their progress. Good luck and have fun!!

Supplies You Will Need:

  • Heating Pad with LOW Setting
  • Animal Carrier used to house the babies for easy clean-up (A large Storage Tub with NO LID can also be used)
  • Soft, warm blankets and towels used for bedding and bathing (+/- Stuffed Animal for Snuggling)
  • Thermometer used ONLY for the animals
  • KY-Jelly Lube for Thermometer Tip (PLAIN ONLY, No Warming, Cooling Type etc…)
  • Pack of Bottles & Rubber Nipples appropriately sized (PetAg is one brand, etc…)
  • Milk Replacer for Puppies or Kittens (Puppies: Esbilac, PetLac, Just Born, etc…) (Kittens: KMR, Nurturall C, etc.). Milk Replacer comes in Liquid or Powder (The Powder form is more cost effective).
  • Tissues/Cotton Balls
  • Dawn Dish Soap (Blue Kind)
  • Colored Ribbons or Nail Polish (more than 1 baby)
  • Notebook
  • Baby Scale or Kitchen Scale

Now you are ready to begin hand raising and experience a wonderful feeling watching your babies grow up!!

Kitten & Puppy Quick Facts

Kitten/Puppy Normal Rectal Temperature

  • Week 1:    95-96° F
  • Week 2:    96-98° F
  • Week 3:    98-100° F
  • Week 4:    100-101° F
Important facts before you begin:
  • Keep a running log for each baby in your notebook.  Record each baby’s weight daily (twice daily if it is not doing well) and record any changes that you notice (normal and abnormal, such as opening eyes, beginning to crawl, or diarrhea, sniffles, etc.). 
  • Take EACH Baby’s Temperature BEFORE every Feeding.  Slightly lubricate the tip of the thermometer and gently insert the metal tip ONLY into the rectum until it beeps. See Normal Temps Above for appropriate age.
  • NEVER feed a baby until its temperature is normal. Feeding a cold baby will prevent food absorption in the Stomach and may cause it to regurgitate and aspirate. Instead, warm the cold baby and then begin your feedings.
  • Neonates cannot maintain their own body temperature; heat support is mandatory.
  • The Environmental/Room Temperature should be around 80°-90°F for the first 2 weeks and can be decreased to about 70°-80°F after 4 weeks of age.
  • Keep the Heating Pad on LOW under blankets on HALF of the housing unit so the babies can get away from the heat if they are too hot.
  • The Umbilical Cord will turn purple/black and fall off on its own after several days life; Do Not pull it off.
  • Their eyes will open around 10-14 days; Do Not pry or try to help them to open.The babies should gain weight every day and never lose weight. Kittens should gain around 80-100 grams (2.8-3.5 oz.) daily.

Vaccines/Shots and Deworming should be administered at 6 weeks of age by a Licensed Veterinarian.

A general rule of thumb: Deworm at 2, 4, and 6 weeks with pyrantel pamoate (Nemex II), especially if these are babies that were found on the street or born to strays, as they will always have round worms.

Urination & Defecation

  • Kittens & Puppies cannot eliminate on their own for the first few weeks of life. Normally, their mother will lick their genital area; prompting them to urinate and defecate.
  • Since you are their new mother/father you will have to replace this behavior. 
  • Run the facet water until it comes to a lukewarm temperature (Test on your wrist first).
  • Wet cotton balls or tissues (soft material) with lukewarm water
  • Gently rub the baby’s penis/vagina and rectum in a circular motion gently until you see urine and feces. (See Diagrams Below for Anatomical Locations).  This will stimulate the baby to urinate and defecate so I recommend doing it over a trash bin or sink.
  • Continue to rub in a circular motion until they stop urinating and defecating
  • Stimulate the babies before each feeding to “make room”. Once all of the babies have gone to the bathroom you can begin your feedings.

Puppies & Kittens
Penn Vet MaleFemaleDiagram, kittens

Male Kitten

Rectum/Penis

Female Kitten

Rectum/Vulva

  Penn Vet, Female Dog   Puppy:
Female Diagram
  Penn Vet, Male Dog Diagram

  Penis

 

Scrotum

 

Rectum

 

 

Feeding Instructions:

  • Feed every 2-4 hours when they are 0-4 weeks old since they cannot yet keep their blood sugar stable. Yes, this INCLUDES Night Feedings!
  • Around 4 weeks of age start decreasing feedings to every 6 hours if they are eating well.
    ALWAYS make new formula up for every feeding. Never re-use or re-heat formula since it can become contaminated with bacteria.
  • NEVER use a microwave to heat formula since this causes hot and cold spots and can burn your baby’s mouth and esophagus. Ouch! Instead, Use hot water in a glass or bowl and place the bottle into the hot water to heat through.
  • Always shake & test the formula on your wrist before feeding.
  • Make a small hole in the top of the nipple and test how well formula will flow through (You want a good stream flowing, but not a garden hose stream).
  • Hold Puppy/ Kitten in its natural position on a table or your lap. The front paws should be able to rest on your hands or on the blanket so that they can “knead” while drinking (natural reflex).
  • You can wrap the baby in a towel or paper towel and hold the front of baby slightly upright.
  • Gently insert the tip of the nipple into the baby’s mouth and squeeze a tiny amount of formula in their mouth to promote a suckling response. The nipple may take some getting used to so be patient.
  • Hold the bottle with the nipple facing downward to avoid air near the nipple end of the bottle. 
  • Once the baby latches on to the nipple they will drink the formula at their own pace.
  • As soon as the baby refuses formula or needs a break (by moving its head away from the bottle) remove the bottle and wipe the excess formula from the baby’s mouth.
  • Formula should NEVER come out of the baby’s nose – If you see this, please take the baby to a veterinarian to check the baby for aspiration of fluid into the lungs as soon as possible.
  • If you have more than one baby in your litter, then offer one round of feeding and then offer each baby a second helping.  If the baby is still hungry it will happily take a second feeding..
  • Do not force the baby to drink a second time.  Some may drink second helpings and some may not; this is normal.
  • Once your babies are all fed and full, place them back in their warm housing unit and let them sleep.
  • If the babies develop diarrhea or do not take the formula please immediately contact the Penn Vet's Emergency Services at 215-898-4685 for further instructions.
  • Play Time is reserved for when the kittens or puppies want it, which is usually when they are around 3-4 weeks of age.

Weaning Kittens & Puppies

  • Kittens/Puppies are typically weaned around 4-6 weeks of age. Some will wean sooner and some will be more difficult and take longer.
  • Local Pet Stores carry Kitten and Puppy WET (canned) food of all brands (My Favorite: ProPlan Kitten - Chicken & Liver Flavor + ProPlan Puppy - Chicken & Rice Flavor) but any kitten/puppy wet food will work.
  • Wet food is much better for the babies than offering only dry food.  Have dry kibble available at all times to them and feed WET food every 6 hours.
  • Every 6 hours make a slurry (mixture) using the wet food, warm water, and formula mixed together and offer to each kitten and/or puppy. I like to use disposable small paper plates/trays for this.
  • Let the babies eat what they want from the slurry and remember who is eating and how much.
  • After offering the slurry of solid food, then offer the formula bottle for the babies that did not eat well. The baby will tell you if they want formula or not by accepting or declining the bottle.
  • Do this process for each feeding until all the babies are eating solid food only.
  • Make sure to weigh each baby and they are still gaining weight and NOT losing weight.

Potty Training

Kittens

  • By 2-3 weeks old your babies should now be able to urinate and defecate on their own and you can begin the Potty Training Phase 
  • If you are hand raising Kittens then you are the lucky one! Fortunately, it is a natural instinct for kittens and cats to use a litter box.
  • Just make sure the litter box is sized accordingly and the kittens are able to get in and out of the box easily (Sides not too high, etc…).
  • Start with either shredded paper or a very small amount of litter to avoid a big mess.
  • Keep the litter box close to the kittens so they remember where it is (i.e.: Do Not put litter box in different room than the one the kittens are living in).
  • Clean litter box as necessary.

Puppies
  • Puppies are a little more of a challenge so you will want to use pet training diapers for them if possible.
  • It can be harmful for puppies to be outside in public areas without protective vaccines’. Outdoor time should begin after they are vaccinated. Remember, the baby’s don’t have the protection of receiving their mother’s milk, which contains antibodies; so they are more susceptible to sickness.
  • Use a secure, private, grassy area (backyard is best) supervised at all times for potty training puppies.
  • Frequently take puppies outside throughout the day to use the grass.
  • Reward the puppy with a treat each time it goes potty outside so it learns this is good.
  • If a puppy goes potty inside, Do Not yell; simply take the puppy outside. Reward the puppy only when it eliminates outside.

Bathing

  • Keeping your kittens and puppies clean, warm, and dry are 3 of the most essential things you can do to ensure good health in your baby.
  • Kittens and Puppies are very messy so they will need to be bathed often; how often depends on how dirty they get.
  • The easiest way to bathe your kitten or puppy is using a bathroom facet running at a lukewarm temperature (test on your wrist first).
  • Hold the baby’s body under the facet to wet their fur keeping the head out of the water at all times (Preventing the head from getting too wet or under water is the most important part of the bathing process).
  • Use a small dot (smaller than a dime) of Blue Dawn Dish Soap on the baby’s fur and lather with warm water avoiding the face and head.
  • Blue Dawn Dish Soap will also kill any fleas on your baby. It is much safer than any flea product and will not harm your baby; DO NOT USE ANY FLEA/TICK PRODUCTS ON BABIES!
  • Make sure to rinse away all of the soap thoroughly and repeat until all babies are clean.
  • Use a hair dryer set on low-medium and a warm setting to dry your babies. They will become too cold if they are not dried properly. Never let them air dry; always blow-dry them.
  • Use a towel and keep the blow dryer moving constantly around your baby to avoid burns.
  • Once you are done they will be all clean and fluffy.