1. Regular Tests are Important
Your pet can get heart problems, arthritis, or a toothache, just like you can. Seeing your doctor once a year is the best way to avoid these problems or catch them early.
Exams are the most important thing you can do to keep your pet healthy. Every year, you should take your pet to the vet for a checkup, vaccinations, a dental exam, and any other health checks that are suggested.
2. Have your pets neutered or sterilized
Every year, between 8 million and 10 million pets end up in shelters in the U.S. Some are lost, some were left behind, and some don’t have a home.
Spaying and neutering your cats and dogs is a simple way to stop adding to that number. It’s a treatment that can be done on babies as young as 6 to 8 weeks old.
Spaying and neutering your pet does more than just stop useless pets from being born. It also has important health benefits for your pet. Studies show that it also lowers the risk of some cancers and makes it less likely for a pet to get lost because it makes them less likely to roam.
3. Stay at a good weight
A lot of cats and dogs are too heavy or fat. And just like with people, pets who are overweight face health risks like diabetes, arthritis, and cancer.
Douglas says that overfeeding is the main reason why people and animals get fat. He also says that keeping our pets in good shape can add years to their lives.
Most of us think that pets need a lot more calories than they actually do. A small, inactive dog only needs 185–370 calories a day, while a 10-pound cat only needs 240–350 calories a day. Talk to your vet about what to feed your pet based on its age, weight, and activity.
4. Stay away from germs
Fleas are the most common external bug that can bother pets. They can cause itchy skin, hair loss, hot spots, and infections. Fleas can also make your cat or dog sick with other diseases. If your pet eats just one bug, it can get tapeworms, which are the most common parasites that live inside of dogs and cats.
The key is prevention all year long. It’s important to treat fleas, worms in the intestines, and heartworms regularly in places where they are common.
Some parasite medicines made for dogs can kill cats, so talk to your vet about how to keep your beloved pets safe, worm-free, and flea-free.
5. Make the environment more interesting
Your dog or cat’s long-term health and happiness will also depend on how well their setting is taken care of.
Pets need mental exercise, which could mean taking your dog for a walk every day or giving your cat scratching posts, window perches, and toys. It means playing with you, which keeps your pet’s muscles in shape and keeps them from getting bored. It also helps you get closer to your four-legged friends.
6. Get your pet a tiny chip and a tattoo
Without identification, only about 14% of lost pets ever find their way back home. Thanks to microchipping and/or tattoos, the pet can be found and brought back to its owner.
A microchip is put under the skin in less than a second. It is about the size of a rice grain. It doesn’t need a battery, and a vet or animal control officer can read it in seconds.
7. Pets Need Dental Care, Too
Just like you, your pet can get gum disease, lose teeth, and have pain in their teeth. And just like you, your pet’s teeth stay strong and healthy when they are brushed and their mouths are cleaned regularly.
Dental disease is one of the most common preventable illnesses in pets, but many people never even look in their pet’s mouth. About 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of oral disease by the time they are three years old. This can lead to abscesses, loose teeth, and pain that doesn’t go away. Periodontal disease can be avoided by taking care of your pet’s teeth, in addition to having your vet clean their teeth regularly. Care for the owner includes brushing, mouth rinses, and treats for the teeth.
8. Never give people medicine for their pets
Human medicines can hurt or kill your pet. In 2010, the ASPCA put human drugs on its list of the top 10 things that are bad for pets.
Most of the time, NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen are to blame for pets getting sick, but antidepressants, decongestants, muscle relaxants, and acetaminophen are also dangerous for pets. Drugs made for people can hurt a dog or cat’s kidneys, cause seizures, or stop the heart.
If you think your pet has eaten your medicine or something else that could be harmful, call your vet.