May 2-8 was annual National Pet Week and Be Kind To Animals Week. This year's theme was "Promoting pet care and safety." Even though the designated observance has passed, we should strive to be kind to animals year-round.
Much of the focus of the designated educational week is on children, but pet lovers of all ages should learn how best to love and care for pets daily.
Pets need to be fed daily, and most dogs and cats are happiest when they get two meals per day. Feeding twice in a day allows smaller, more digestible meals, and a careful measurement of each of those meals allows you to better control your pet's weight.
Fresh drinking water is crucial. As hot weather approaches, encouraging your pet to drink even more water is a good idea. You can do that by changing the water daily, washing out his bowl at least once weekly and adding ice cubes for dogs to make the water cool, something many dogs like.
Spend quality time with pets. Dogs and cats alike need exercise. Dogs like to go for a walk around the neighborhood. Safety demands that they always be walked on a leash. Many cats can be leash-trained, and being seen walking your cat on a leash could lead to striking up a new friendship close to home.
Cats and dogs alike can be exercised right at home, too. Teach your pet to fetch. Both species can learn, and a fetching cat can keep both of you entertained for hours.
Another important aspect of quality time is showing your pet you love him or her. Spend time with a brush and other grooming aids to keep his or her coat shiny and healthy. Talk to your pet in soft, reassuring tones, and have time every day for him.
Most pets spend most of their day sleeping. Having a quiet place to escape to relax and get some really good sleep is important. If children are gone to school all day and grown-ups are at work, pets will find a favorite place and get a good, long nap, but if someone is home all day, there may need to be specified nap time for pets, just as for small children.
See your pet's doctor on schedule. Young puppies and kittens need to have visits about every three to four weeks through 4 or 5 months of age. Staying on schedule with these checkups is crucial. Not only can your new pet become sick because of missing a visit, but it isn't unusual for them to carry diseases and parasites that can make the family sick, also. These diseases are called zoonotic.
After your pet is fully grown, he or she still needs to see the doctor at least once a year. Physical examinations, testing for parasite burdens and vaccinations all are things needed to help your pet have a long and happy, healthy life.
- Dr. Jim Randolph is a veterinarian at Animal General Hospital in Long Beach, Miss.