Oh my, there is so much more to caring for a doggie and kitty than giving belly rubs and giving them yummy treats! If you’re thinking about joining the paw-some club of being a pet parent, please read to help you prepare for your new furry friend and give your pet the best life possible! Please call your local veterinarian before attempting to do any of the following.
Spay & Neuter
Spaying and neutering helps animals live longer and healthier lives by eliminating or reducing many health problems. Perhaps the most important health benefit of spaying/neutering your pet is the elimination of certain cancers. It will also help in reducing unruly behavior, and save on overall cost of pet care. By spaying and neutering you will also greatly help to reduce the number of homeless pets euthanized every year. Many shelters across Hawaii Island are overpopulated with stray cats and dogs. Not all of them find loving homes before their time is cut short to make room for the next batch of strays. Unlicensed over-breeding is also a factor in the increased number of pets on the island.
Always check with your local veterinarian as to when and which shots your pet needs. Having the proper vaccinations will help protect them against harmful and/or deadly viruses, including viruses that are even transmittable to humans.
Despite the old conventional wisdom that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a humans, dogs and cats can still develop problems like tartar and plaque buildup and gingivitis. But it’s not just bad breath and yellow teeth you have to worry about. As with humans, these dental problems can actually lead to life-threatening infections and issues including heart, liver, and kidney disease. So, be sure to brush your pet’s teeth at least every other day. Skip the table scraps and give him specially formulated dental treats and chew toys. Instead of wet food, ask your vet to suggest dry foods that will slow down the process of tartar and plaque buildup.
Dogs need exercise to burn calories, stimulate their minds, and keep healthy. Exercise also tends to help dogs avoid boredom, which can lead to destructive behaviors. Supervised fun and games will satisfy many of your pet’s instinctual urges to dig, herd, chew, retrieve and chase. Depending on your dogs breed or breed mix, sex, age and level of health, the exercise level varies. For some a couple of walks around the block every day and ten minutes in the backyard probably won’t cut it. Like their canine counterparts, cats also need plenty of aerobic exercise. Get kitty fit with rousing play sessions, such as chase and fetch with furry toys, small balls or toy mice.
Premium-quality dry food provides a well-balanced diet for adult dogs and may be mixed with water, broth or canned food. Your dog may enjoy cottage cheese, cooked egg, fruits and vegetables, but these additions should not total more than ten percent of his daily food intake.
Puppies should be fed a high-quality, brand-name puppy food. Please limit “people food,” however, because it can result in vitamin and mineral imbalances, bone and teeth problems and may cause very picky eating habits and obesity. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times, and be sure to wash food and water dishes frequently.
If you’re responsible for taking care of kittens in the first few months of their lives, you need to be prepared to move them from a diet of milk to regular kitten food. Adult cats should eat enough of a high-quality, nutritious food to meet their energy needs and to maintain and repair body tissues. The amount you feed your adult cat should be based on his or her size and energy output.
Micro Chip & Tags
The least anyone can do for their pet is to get them microchipped either at their local veterinarian clinic or animal shelter. Most animal shelters like the Hawaiian Humane Society offer to microchip for $20. It’s a quick and easy process that only takes a minute to inject the chip in the back of their neck with a needle. If you should ever lose your pet, at least those who find him will be able to identify him and bring him back to you. Also, make sure to keep your contact information updated on their ID tag and with your veterinarian.
For more dog or cat care tips please visit www.aspca.org/pet-care