Select a full-service veterinary hospital and establish a relationship with a doctor you like and trust — and that your pet likes and trusts! This individual, assessing and treating your pet over time, will become your front-line warrior in your loving battle to keep your best friend healthy and happy over time.
Know your pet: This sounds like a no-brainer, but the more familiar you are with your pet’s normal behavior, moods, coat condition, skin and other body parts, appetite and activity levels, the more quickly you will notice when something is wrong. Check your pet regularly with your hands. Look into ears and eyes. Open his mouth and inspect teeth and gums. Lift the tail and check “under the hood.”
Listen to your intuition: If you “feel” something might be wrong, check it out! Remember, you know your pet better than anyone, so don’t hesitate to seek your vet’s advice.
Select a quality diet: Consult your veterinarian, friends, pet food specialists…and, of course, your pet! And after your pet eats, or at least a couple of times a week, brush his teeth! Good dental hygiene reduces the chances of tooth loss and periodontal disease. This is extremely important as the pet ages, as bacteria from “bad gums” sheds into the bloodstream and threatens internal organs.
Keep your pet at a healthy weight: Just a few additional pounds can increase your pet’s chances of developing diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and a host of other life-threatening diseases.
Exercise your pet: Go for walks with your dogs, frolic with your ferrets, play a game of laser tag with your cat! As with humans, exercise helps burn calories, keeps the circulatory system happy, strengthens muscles and bones and fosters the human-animal bond.
Spay or neuter your pet: This surgery is classified as lifesaving for two reasons: you will reduce your pet’s chances of getting mammary or testicular cancer as it ages and you will personally be helping to end the tragedy of pet overpopulation in our community.
Vaccinate according to your veterinarian’s directions: There has been much research and debate lately about the affects of and need for annual vaccinations for adult cats and dogs that warrants dialogue with your full-service veterinarian. However, for young animals, the vaccination protocol remains the same: 8 weeks, 12 weeks and 16 weeks for the combination distemper vaccinations for dogs (plus parvo) and cats. Rabies can be given at 4 months (16 weeks) of age. Consult your vet for more information on additional protective vaccinations.
License your dog: Proof of current rabies vaccination and a nominal fee will help guarantee your dog’s safety should it get lost or (God forbid) bite someone. A current rabies tag is like a ticket home should Animal Control find your pet at large.
Keep current I.D. on your pet: A collar with tags and microchip. Keep current pictures of your pet.
Pet-proof your home and yard: By spending a little time at your pet’s level and removing sources of danger (exposed cords, poisonous plants, antifreeze, household chemicals, baker’s chocolate, access to garbage cans, etc.), you’ll save a lot of money in vet bills… and maybe even your pet’s life.
Summertime Travel Tips
More and more people are choosing to vacation with their pets rather than boarding them or hiring a pet sitter. Here are some tips for safe and enjoyable pet travel.
- Never leave your pet, even for a few minutes, closed in a car. A car is like a greenhouse, and temperatures can rapidly reach 120 degrees, resulting in heat prostration and death. Even cracking the windows may not be enough, and also exposes the pet to contact by potentially malicious persons.
- Give your pet play breaks, as well as potty breaks. If your road trip has to be done in a rush, find other alternatives for your pet.
- Check out the pet policies of hotels before making reservations.
- Get your pet a seat harness or use a pet carrier. Never allow your pet to hang out the window or to ride loose in the back of a pick-up.
- Bring a jug of water from home as well as the pet’s normal food. Water in different parts of the county can have an unusual taste that your pet may refuse.
- When traveling by airplane, make sure you know the airline regulations for health certificates, travel as carry-on, or travel as cargo. Some airlines will refuse to allow pets on as cargo if temperatures in the destination or lay-over cities are outside a certain range.
- Make sure you travel with your pet’s medical records and proof of rabies vaccination. Make sure your pet is microchipped or has some means of permanent ID. No place is worse to lose your pet than an unfamiliar city.