Often times the best of intentions go by the way side with that list of New Year’s Resolutions being broken by January 3rd. We’re embarking on Month Two of 2013, so it’s time to reassess and catch up on anything you bombed out on or that wasn’t on the list to begin with. That should include enhancing the relationship with your dog or cat and taking even better care of them. Set realistic goals that you can practice for a lifetime!
1. REALLY GET TO KNOW YOUR PET! Knowing what is normal can help you more quickly determine when something is not. Do a weekly Head-to-Tail Check feeling for lumps and bumps; noticing the condition of the skin and coat and feeling for any tender spots. Also pay attention to your pet’s habits — is he drinking more than usual or asking to go outside more frequently? Any change in habit can be a tell tale sign of something “not quite right” and should not be ignored. Getting prompt medical attention could be a lifesaver!
2. DON’T SKIP ANNUAL VETERINARY VISITS! Unfortunately our dogs and cats don’t live as long as we do, so each calendar year for them compares to approximately 7 years worth of physiological changes in us. Have your Vet examine your pet and if you haven’t already, spay or neuter your dog or cat! Doing so will lower the risks of many cancers as well as the number of homeless animals, and…if you didn’t know it, 80% of all dogs and cats hit by cars are un-neutered males!
3. SOCIALIZE & OBEDIENCE TRAIN. An obedient dog is less likely to get into trouble. He’ll “leave it” and not ingest poison and will “stay” out of traffic. Good mannered pets are welcomed family members able to go on outings and be part of gatherings. A well-socialized dog or cat is less likely to bite a person or get into a fight with another animal. Exercise does a canine, feline and human body good and besides keeping joints limber, it provides much-needed oxygen to the brain, so exercise, train, socialize and spend good quality time with your pets daily!
4. READ PET FOOD LABELS! Know which human foods are dangerous to your four-legged best friend and don’t create your own dishes until you become knowledgeable in pet nutrition. Just because it’s good for humans does not make it good for Fido or Fluffy! Read ingredient labels and know WHAT you are putting into your critter’s body. Fillers and chemicals you can’t pronounce do not a healthy pet make. Look for a high quality protein listed first on the label — no by-products and what the heck is “meat?” Have you ever seen a “meat” roaming on the range? Do keep your pets at a healthy weight where you can feel the ribs, but not see them.
5. PLAN FOR THE UNEXPECTED by learning Pet First-Aid & CPR before you need it. Have at least one well-stocked pet first aid kit on hand, know where your nearest 24-hour emergency animal hospital is and have a means to pay when the worst happens. Also, develop a Disaster Preparedness Plan for the WHOLE family…two-legged, four-legged, feathered, finned and scaled. Dangers lurk everywhere and don’t think it won’t happen to you!