Every animal requires proper care and pet owners should be aware of any issues that relate to their specific animal. Keep in mind that a little preventive care can go a long way to maintaining your pet’s health.
Dogs: Regular brushing, bathing, and nail care are essential. Special care for puppies while bathing is needed – consult your veterinarian for specific recommendations. Be sure to protect your pet’s eyes and ears when bathing.
Cats: Regular brushing to prevent matting of hair is important. Cats rarely need a bath, but one can be given if necessary (be sure to use a shampoo designed specifically for cats or kittens – dog shampoos may be irritating).
Be sure to consult with your veterinarian regarding your pet’s diet. Check the ingredient label on pet food and special use foods for information on processing, water content and other components such as vitamins and minerals.
Dogs: The amount fed will vary with the type of food and the individual dog. Consult your veterinarian regarding the proper formulation to use and frequency of meals. The formulation and frequency of meals will change as your pet ages.
Cats: Consult your vet regarding an appropriate diet for your kitten. Dry foods have the advantage of providing a rough surface that will help reduce plaque and tartar buildup on your kitten’s teeth but canned foods can be fed/supplemented if desired. The amount fed will depend on the diet, as well as the age, size, and activity level of your pet.
Remember: If canned foods are left unrefrigerated, they can spoil. So feed your pet only at regularly scheduled times.
Be sure to have all new pets examined by a veterinarian to ensure that it has no major health problems and is started on a program of preventive care. Assuring your pet’s well-being requires regular care and close attention to any hint of ill health. Consult your veterinarian if your pet shows any of the following signs:
The shots your pet needs, and when, depend on your pet’s risk of infection, age, breed, and environmental exposures. Your dog should be checked for intestinal parasites, fleas and heartworm disease, and appropriate treatment should be administered when needed. Your cat should be checked for intestinal parasites, fleas, and ear mites and appropriate medications given for these problems.
Remember – Your pet is an individual and the need for specific vaccinations, timing of boosters, and risk factors for disease are best assessed by your veterinarian.
Thousands of dogs and cats are euthanized each year because there aren't enough homes for them. If you don't plan to breed, spay or neuter your pet.
Dogs: Spaying your female pet can help prevent cancers of the reproductive tract and may decrease the incidence of reproductive infections. Neutering your male dog will also prevent cancers and decrease the incidence of prostate problems. The incidence of more aggressive behavioral problems has also been shown to be reduced when dogs are spayed or neutered.
Cats: Spaying/neutering decreases the incidence of some tumors and reproductive infections. A male cat should be neutered if it will be a house pet because the strong urine odor of unneutered males will make your cat an unacceptable housemate.
Your veterinarian can discuss with you the benefits of spaying/neutering and the best time to schedule the procedure.
Dental care is an important part of your pet’s preventive health care. It is estimated that by age 3 years, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show some signs of gum disease. Bad breath is an early warning sign of gingivitis. Particularly at risk are small dog breeds which are more likely to develop tooth problems because their teeth are crowded into small mouths. Bad breath, a yellow brown crust of tartar around the gum line, pain or bleeding when the pet eats or when you touch its gums may indicate the presence of gum disease. Prevention is the key:
As with humans, heat stroke can kill or result in serious injury. During those warm humid days, your pet needs access to proper ventilation, cool clean water and shade.
Also, summertime means the celebration of the 4th of July. Fireworks and pets don’t mix. The sound of fireworks can terrify your animal. A pet’s ears are more sensitive than ours and loud noises may damage your pet’s hearing. If possible, keep your pet indoors.
It is best to keep pets indoors during the winter months, but if this is not possible, outdoor pets must be provided with shelter. Indoor pets should be kept in a draft-free, warm area with their bed elevated slightly off the floor. During cold weather remember:
Plants and other items associated with the holiday season can be toxic to your pet. Keep pets away from poinsettia plants, balsam/pine/cedar/fir, Christmas tree preservatives, snow sprays, holly berries and leaves, mistletoe, antifreeze, and more. Also, cats are often attracted to string-like objects, will eat tinsel, needles and thread, rubber bands, and other similar materials. Do not allow your pet to play with ribbons or yarn and do not put them around your pet’s neck.
Note: Do not allow friends or relatives to give your pet “special treats.” Holiday “treats” (fatty food scraps, bones from fish, pork, and poultry, and chocolate) can be harmful or toxic to pets.
It is important to be aware of your pet’s normal behavior, so you can recognize what is not normal. Your veterinarian’s telephone number should be kept with other emergency phone numbers. Never leave dangerous objects like pins, string, ribbon, or fish hooks within reach of your pet.
During the winter months, it is important to store all snow removal products out of the reach of pets and remove salt from your pet’s paws. Frostbitten skin is red or gray and may slough off. If your pet exhibits signs of frostbite:
Remember: a sick or injured animal is often in a frightened state, so if emergency first aid is necessary protect yourself (even if it is your own pet).
Family pets risk poisoning from all kinds of places: snakes; plants; perfumes and aftershaves; common household materials; pesticides; weed killers; fertilizers; paints – the list is endless. Most often, poisoning is accidental. Poison-proof your home - be sure to keep poisonous materials out of reach of your pet. If your pet is poisoned:
Over 50% of pet owners vacation or travel with their pet. In many cases that means airplane rides for your animal. Keep in mind – some ill or physically impaired pets cannot withstand the rigors of travel. Before undertaking any trip, consult your veterinarian – the age and size of your pet, time and distance of the flight/ride must be considered. If traveling to friends, a hotel, parks, campgrounds – make sure pets are allowed, bring a portable kennel and notify front desk/maid service.
Security procedures do not prohibit you from bringing a pet on your flight. You should contact your airline or travel agent, however, before arriving at the airport to determine your airline's policy on traveling with pets. Major airlines require that the pet be examined by a veterinarian no more than ten days prior to the date of travel so be sure to bring current health and rabies vaccination certificates. If you are planning to bring an animal on-board the plane with you, you will need to present the animal to the security checkpoint screeners for screening.
Note: Pet owners who are considering air transportation for the family pet are cautioned to carefully consider the use of tranquilizers or sedatives.
Transport crates are available from most airlines or pet shops, and should be purchased in advance so your pet can become acclimated to the crate prior to travel. The crate must:
NOTE: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) allows each airline to decide if they will allow you to travel with your pet in the passenger cabin. If an airline does allow you to bring your pet into the cabin, the FAA considers your pet container to be carry-on baggage and you must follow all carry on baggage rules. Travelers should also be aware that if the final destination is a foreign country or even Hawaii, there may be quarantine or other health requirements to consider.
When traveling by car, be aware of weather conditions. Do not leave your pet in the car when the temperature and/or humidity are high or when temperatures are near or below freezing. Your pet should be confined to a cage or crate to allow them to feel secure and to avoid having a pet under your feet while driving. Pets should not be allowed to ride with their heads outside car windows – particles of dirt can enter their eyes, ears, and nose, causing injury or infection.