Most pet owners have great affection for their pets and choose to adopt out of love. They want to provide the best life possible for their furry companions and often worry about their well-being.
How do I keep my pet from harm? What do I do to ensure my pet’s health and happiness? Why is my pet behaving this way?
These are things we’ve all questioned from time to time.
Most owners know that caring for their pet involves more than just making sure they have the essentials—food, water, and shelter are the bare minimum. So what DOES it take to provide your pet with a happy and healthy life?
At BCARL, part of our mission is to help pet owners become the best possible guardians of their pet’s overall wellness.
We’ve outlined a few basic guidelines to help you along your pet-parent journey.
Feed Your Pet a Balanced Diet
Provide species specific food that is rich in the specific nutrients your pet requires. Make sure you are purchasing the correct food for each stage of their life, as young animals have different nutritional needs than senior pets.
Don't Share Your Food
It's hard to resist your dog when he is sitting at your feet as your family is gathered around the dinner table, but highly processed human food is not fit for your dog. In fact, by giving in and feeding your pet inappropriate foods, you can negatively impact his health. Human food can cause obesity, which increases the chances of your pup developing a range of debilitating illnesses including heart disease, joint issues, and diabetes.
Ensure Your Pet Maintains a Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight will help your fur baby live a longer life. Often, as pets age, they may slowly add pounds. This is normal. But, if you notice that your pet has been gaining a little too much weight, you can help him lose it slowly by reducing his calories and helping him lead a more active lifestyle.
Conversely, your little guy may occasionally have trouble gaining weight. This could happen for a variety of reasons. He may be recovering from an illness or injury, or he could be a picky eater. However, there could also be a serious underlying issue that needs to be addressed by a medical professional such as:
Tooth and gum disease
Underlying medical issues (cancer, kidney disease, diabetes, heart disease)
Malabsorption (difficulty absorbing nutrients from food)
Maldigestion (difficulty breaking down food)
Since there are so many potential causes for weight issues, the best thing you can do if you notice that your dog or cat is losing (or gaining) weight is to visit your veterinarian. Treatment will depend on what your veterinarian determines is the underlying cause of your pet’s weight loss.
Schedule an Annual Vet Visit
Your pet should have a yearly checkup, even if he seems healthy. Your veterinarian will be able to assess his health and advise you concerning any health issues, including helping you set a vaccination schedule that makes sense for your pets. Your vet will likely vaccinate your pet against potentially deadly diseases such as distemper, parvo, panleukopenia and rabies. Regular vet care will decrease the chance of your pet falling ill, protecting their health in both the short and long terms.
Spay or Neuter Your Pet
Spaying and neutering your cat or dog extends their life expectancy and helps prevent overpopulation. Spay and neuter procedures are routine and safe surgical procedures that can also help prevent medical and behavioral problems from developing in your pets. It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give to your pet and your community.
Provide Regular Exercise
Regular exercise is an important part of keeping your pet healthy and keeping them from getting restless, especially if they are at home by themselves a large portion of the day. Take your dog for a long walk or consider visiting a local dog park.
Additionally, cats and dogs both need mental stimulation as much as they need physical activity. Make sure your cat has ample toys and scratching posts for play and stimulation. Mental stimulation can help your guy or gal by challenging their brain in fun ways that can boost happiness. Keeping a dog occupied throughout the day while you’re at work helps prevent boredom, which lowers the risk of your little guy becoming frustrated and latching onto negative behaviors. Use puzzle toys, Kongs, and other games to give your dog some regular fun and stress relief.
Consider Pest Control
Many vets recommend keeping your pet on year-round heartworm and flea control medication as a preventive measure, even if they’re inside pets.
Make Sure Your Pet Wears a Collar
According to Ohio law, your dog is legally required to wear a tag issued by the county auditor while outside.
Generally speaking, it is always a good idea to have your cat or dog wear a collar, regardless of the law in your state. If your pet wears a collar it will not be identified as homeless should he or she go missing. Moreover, a collar provides a way for you to restrain your pet if necessary. If your pup is on the loose, he can be held in place until you’re able to better secure his safety.
Get Your Pet Chipped
While it might cost a little, having your pet chipped will keep them safe should they ever go missing. It's a fairly simple process that will give you peace of mind as a pet parent.
Consider Leash Training
Teaching your dog proper leash control is an important component of dog ownership. All dogs, regardless of size, age, or lifestyle, should be taught basic leash skills. Walks are a beloved part of your dog’s life, both for exercise and socialization. That’s why it’s important to know the basics of leash training.
All of these tips are integral components of providing a happy, health lifestyle for your cat or dog.
But, most importantly, don’t forget to give your furry fellow lots of love and attention!
Just like humans, our pets need to feel loved in order to be healthy and happy.
They bring so much joy, love, and laughter into our lives, and it’s important that we give back to our loyal companions. This will most likely be the easiest part of being a pet owner. After all, they are our best friends.