As we approach another new year, I ask all pet owners to include among their resolutions to ensure their pets will also have a great year of health and happiness.
Every pet deserves to be raised in a healthy and loving environment. Remember, pets depend on their owners for all of life's necessities, including proper food, complete medical care and and attention.
Here are tips for caring for a pet:
1. Take your pet to your veterinarian at least once a year for a complete physical exam and recommended vaccinations. Remember older pets (those older than 7 years) should be seen at least twice a year. This allows your veterinarian to provide basic preventive medicine.
2. Spay or neuter your pet. By doing this you will have a pet that is now focused on the family and much more likely to live longer.
3. Discuss proper nutrition with your veterinarian. This can be extremely helpful due to the overwhelming amount of products available in the pet food market.
4. Never feed table scraps. This can cause serious medical problems with your pet's gastrointestinal tract, which equals serious damage to carpet and furniture and lots of frustration! It also results in finicky eaters and lifelong beggars.
5. Monitor your pet's weight. If you can't feel the rib cage, your pet is likely to be overweight.
6. Keep fresh water available at all times. Change the water daily.
7. Securely attach a rabies tag and an identification tag to your pet's collar. It is now also highly recommended to provide permanent identification for your pet with either a microchip or a tattoo.
8. Walk or exercise your pet daily. It will do both of you good.
9. Use pet dental products on a regular basis to prevent tartar formation and gum infections.
10. Never give your pet real bones; they can be splintered and dangerous to any size pet.
11. Begin obedience training when your pet is young. It is always easier to prevent than to correct behavioral problems.
12. Set firm and consistent rules against jumping on people or furniture.
13. Remember praise works better than punishment.
14. Use heartworm prevention for dogs and cats for their entire lives.
15. Keep your pet in a fenced yard. Always use a leash outside of your yard or house to prevent your pet from being lost or hit by a car.
16. Provide adequate shelter for outside pets: Shady area, protected from wind, rain and temperature extremes.
17. Keep all pets properly groomed in order to maintain basic hygiene, which absolutely results in better health. Remember to use a shampoo balanced for your pet's skin rather than human (even baby) shampoo.