Do you own a pet? Or are you considering adopting a pet? A pet requires specific care and commitments. Here are ten things that every pet owner or potential pet owner needs to know in order to give a pet the happy, healthy life he or she deserves!
- Do Your Research: Before bringing a new pet home, get to know as much about that animal as possible. Learn about diet, housing, behavior, common health conditions, activity requirements, grooming needs, etc.
- Routine Veterinary Care: Routine examinations, vaccinations, spay and neuter procedures and dental work can help prevent an enormous number of health conditions. A physical exam can reveal a condition early and allow you to start treatment before it becomes more severe.
- Veterinary Funds: Taking care of a pet’s medical needs is part of the responsibility that goes with taking home that new puppy or kitten. Credit options may be available to you, but are not a guarantee. Consider pet insurance and adding a bit more to your savings account every paycheck.
- Don’t Delay: It is tempting to avoid veterinary bills by just hoping your pet gets better on their own. Unfortunately, there are many instances of pets suffering and even dying from conditions that have straightforward solutions if treatment is started right away. Waiting to seek veterinary care often results in the pet being more sick at the time of treatment. This means the necessary treatment may be more involved and expensive.
- What to Feed: You should know what food is appropriate for your pet. Kibble can be formulated with all the nutrition and vitamins that your pet requires. You should use a brand and type of food that was designed specifically for the species (dog, cat, ferret, etc.) of your pet. Special diets are also available for a variety of ages and health conditions. Discuss these diets with your veterinarian. Avoid feeding human food.
- Don’t Overfeed: Overfeeding is very common, and obesity can lead to a variety of metabolic and musculoskeletal problems. Your veterinarian can help you determine the appropriate amount to feed.
- Housing: The environment your pet lives in plays a huge role in both preventing and causing a variety of health and behavioral problems. Dogs should be indoor pets or have adequate outdoor shelter. Cats need places to hide and play. If you have multiple cats, you need multiple litter boxes and water bowls. Make sure the environment is safe and “pet proof”. Ensure that there are no toxins, medication or objects pets can swallow or otherwise injure themselves on.
- Control: Cars, other pets, wildlife, and people are all potential threats to a free-ranging pet. Bites, lacerations, severe trauma, infectious diseases and more can all be prevented if you maintain control of your pet. Keep your dog in a fenced-in yard and/or walk it on a leash. Find dog parks where small dog exercise areas are separate from large dog areas. Keep your cat indoors.
- Surf Carefully: The internet is full of information on just about every symptom or ailment that Fluffy might have. Consider the source of that information; is it an authoritative veterinary organization, your own veterinary clinic, or are you in the comments section of a YouTube video? Don’t try to Google-diagnose Fluffy’s condition. The best thing you can do is provide your veterinarian with a thorough description of the symptoms that you have noticed.
- Exotic Pet Care: Unfortunately, it is common for exotic pets to see their veterinarian for illnesses that could have been prevented by proper housing and care. For reptiles, birds and small mammals living primarily in enclosed environments, you need appropriate bedding material, adequate access to water and food, proper temperatures, lighting, suitable perching or hiding structures and some safe enrichment items. Clean regularly and often. Thorough research is particularly important with exotics because of their diversity.
If you have questions about your current pet’s care or if you have questions that you want answered before adopting a certain type of pet, contact your family veterinarian for more information. If you do not have a family veterinarian yet, there are plenty of options in the Twin Cities area, such as one of our member clinics in your neighborhood.