The responsibilities of pet ownership can be a bit overwhelming, especially for new pet parents.
However, it's really not that intimidating when we break it down into eight simple categories. If you aspire to be a good pet parent, your dog or cat will be much more likely to have a long, happy life if you focus on the following...
We recommend spaying or neutering all pets because the number of animals relinquished to and euthanized in shelters is directly related to the rate of accidental litters and behavior problems with intact (not neutered) dogs. If you adopt from a shelter, odds are your pet has already been spayed or neutered. However, if you found a kitten or adopted a purebred dog, you'll need to consider when it's best to take this step.
There are some recent studies suggesting that we should wait until animals are a bit older before performing these procedures. The problem with waiting is that the surgery (especially for females) gets more difficult and results in a longer recovery as they get bigger. A simple guide...
- In a small animal (cat or small dog), you can wait until skeletal maturity (about one year of age) before spaying or neutering.
- In a large female dog, consider spaying at about six months of age so that her recovery time will still be short.
- Because neutering male dogs is a relatively more simple procedure, they can wait until skeletal maturity. This might be as long as two years in a very large breed dog. However, you should not wait this long if there is any risk of roaming, mating with another dog unexpectedly, or aggression.
Get your pet microchipped as soon as possible. We usually do this during the spay or neuter procedure, but it can be done earlier. We know that you think you will always have your beloved pet by your side, but accidents happen. Fires, hurricanes, and car wrecks can result in a pet escaping and losing its collar and tags. A microchip will increase the chance of reunion by immeasurable amounts. Don't skimp on this simple way to keep your pet safe.
3. Regular Vet Visits
We recommend the following frequency for vet visits to extend your pet's life expectancy and save you money in the long run...
- Young pet - every three to four weeks
- Adult pet - yearly
- Senior pet - every six months
Vaccination needs vary for every pet. We assess your pet's lifestyle and then recommend vaccinations that will keep you and your pet healthy. Yes, YOU can be protected from diseases that your pet can contract, so vaccinating the pet keeps your family safer.
5. Parasite Prevention
It's unfortunately very easy for pets to share parasites with humans, so be sure to bring a fecal sample to the veterinarian for every wellness check-up to keep your family safe. Fleas are the most prevalent parasite among companion animals. These pesky pests are known to cause itching and irritation, but they can also transmit diseases to animals and people. Learn more in our blog post about flea control.
6. Wellness Testing
Wellness testing at your regular vet visits can catch diseases early when there is still much that can be done for your furry loved one. 30% of apparently healthy dogs have problems detectable in blood work, and 25% of apparently healthy cats will have an abnormality that needs to be addressed.
7. Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Our blog post which discussed how pet obesity is a growing problem laid out some key factors contributing to pet obesity and ways that we can help your pet be more fit. Pets who suffer from obesity have a reduced lifespan, a higher incidence of diabetes, urinary obstructions, arthritic pain, respiratory compromise, increased surgical risk, and much more. Keep in mind that any weight loss plan should be supervised by a veterinarian.
8. Dental Care
Dental care is very important starting day one. You certainly do not want to wait until your pet's teeth are rotting to intervene. Instead, we recommend home care including brushing, water additives, special chews or supplements starting at a very young age. If tartar begins to build up, it may be hiding more severe periodontal disease, and it is best to treat that early. If your dog or cat has a toothache, he or she will simply shift the food to the other side of his/her mouth. They don't need to live this way, so we'll evaluate your pet's dental health at every visit and recommend appropriate treatments.
Let Us Help You Be a Good Pet Parent
Bees Ferry Veterinary Hospital has the tools and knowledge to help you be the pet parent that you want to be. We would be happy to customize a plan in each of these categories for your individual pets. Please contact us for further information.