Pet Care

Choosing a Vet
Identifying Your Pets
Children Taking Care of Pets
Dogs and Exercise
Feeding Your Cats
Pet Birds: Feeding
Pets and Cutting Costs

Tip #46: Choosing a Veterinarian

Two veterinarians with two dogs

When you're looking for a new veterinarian, you have several options from which to choose. You can check with friends, neighbors and relatives for recommendations or you can inquire with local animal shelters for suggestions. A veterinary clinic that is close to your home is not only convenient, it also helps in the event you need to rush your pet to emergency care. In addition to good communication skills, a soft touch and a compassionate demeanor are all nice traits in the veterinarian who cares for your pet.

It's also a very good idea to check out the veterinary hospital before you choose a veterinarian to care for your friend. You can observe how the veterinary staff interacts with clients, what hours the hospital is open and what type of payment arrangements they accept. Make sure the facility is clean and the animals seem happy and well cared for.

Tip #47: Identifying Your Pets

Dog at the shelter

Don’t walk your dog outside your yard without a collar and leash. Your dog should always wear a collar with ID pet information tags and contact information. That way, if your pet ever runs away or gets lost, you will have a better chance of someone returning him to you.

You can also have an identification microchip implanted in your dog. The implant does not hurt, and any agency with a reader, such as a veterinarian's office or animal shelter, can read the chip and identify the owner. Many veterinarians now perform this service because it is a very good safety measure for your dog. Your pet information is stored on the chip so you can be contacted quickly and easily in the event your lost pet is found and taken to an animal shelter or veterinary hospital.

Tip #48: Children Taking Care of Pets

Young boy walks with dog

Owning and caring for a pet is a wonderful life lesson for children. However, make sure your kids are ready for the task.

Most experts recommend the child be six or seven before taking on the responsibility of caring for pets, but no matter the age, the maturity of the child is the main thing to consider. Children must understand that they can hurt pets if they treat them too roughly, and that the pet is depending on him or her for survival and love. Rough play can also make a dog aggressive. Children should know that rough tug-o-war and other aggressive play may over-stimulate their pet and cause them to bite. Make certain that your child is conscientious enough to take on this responsibility, or you'll be the one who ends up taking care of pets in the home. Allow your child to help pick out the pet as well, so he or she feels a sense of kinship and love for the animal.

Tip #49: Dogs and Exercise

Dog jumps through agility course

All dogs need daily exercise, but some more than others. Most dogs will be happy and healthy with daily play routines and walks twice a day, but some breeds, like the border collie, are extremely active and need more play time and exercise. If you have a large dog, make sure your yard is big enough for him to run and play, or take your pet to a dog park or another area where he has plenty of room to run. Never exercise your dog vigorously after a meal. Some breeds are prone to bloating and twisting their stomachs. Running or vigorous exercise after a meal is thought to be one of the causes of this condition.

Don't over-stimulate your dog, however. Your dog should be tired but happy after an exercise session, not exhausted. Dogs that get regular exercise are happier and healthier, so make sure your dog has plenty of playtime and exercise every day. If you're not sure how much exercise is right for your dog, ask your veterinarian for more advice.

Tip #50: Feeding Your Cats

In the world of veterinary science there are different philosophies on how to feed cats. Cats are carnivores; some believe by giving them only kibble or wet food we've turned them into vegetarians and created new health conditions. There are veterinarians who believe that meat is the only thing cats should eat. Others believe in a combination of types of food.

Cat eats kibble

When feeding your cat, it is important to know you have options that depend on your lifestyle and your cat’s health needs. Options include a raw meat diet, dry kibble and/or wet cat food. There are now stores, like Whole Foods, that sell pre-packaged containers of meat specifically for pets. Kibble is beneficial to cats as it helps maintain healthy teeth and ward off plaque.

Always feed cats a high-quality food that does not contain additives or fillers. Additives fill up your cat but lack quality nutrition. To compensate, he will eat more food to get the vitamins, minerals and nutrients he needs every day. This makes for an overweight cat. And contrary to what a lot of people think, many cats are lactose intolerant, so don't give them milk!Always ask your veterinarian for advice on what to feed your cat. Only your veterinarian best understands your cat's behavior, lifestyle, and dietary requirements.

Tip #51: Pet Birds: Feeding

Pet birds do not get enough nutrition from seed-only diets. They should be fed a variety of these foods for the best nutrition:

  • Seed mixes: Avoid seeds from the supermarket; buy from a reputable bird or pet store instead. Use a mix formulated especially for your type of bird.
  • Birds love fresh greens and vegetables. You can feed them a variety of greens, just make sure they are washed thoroughly and do not contain any pesticides. You can feed birds cooked vegetables, too, if they enjoy them.
  • Fruit should make up a part of any bird's diet. Peaches, pears and bananas are some of the best choices. 
  • Pelleted foods: Bird food now comes in pellets that are more nutritionally complete than seed mixes. Use these pellets and supplement with fruits and greens.

If you choose the right diet, you'll enjoy years of companionship with your feathered friends!

Tip #52: Pets and Cutting Costs

Veterinarian with dog on exam table

There's no doubt about it: owning pets is expensive. But there are a few clever ways to cut costs. Even though it may seem expensive, don't skimp on veterinary visits. These check-ups can detect health problems before they progress, preventing catastrophic illnesses or surgeries by catching diseases in their early stages. Veterinarians also perform dental check-ups, an extremely important preventative measure since dental issues are the leading health problem in both dogs and cats.

Make sure your pets get regular vaccinations to prevent illnesses. Spaying and neutering is also a money saver because it reduces the risks of myriad health problems and unwanted breedings. Spayed or neutered animals also statistically live longer lives.

Feed your animals high-quality pet food. Better ingredients in high-quality pet food maintain good health, and your pets actually have to eat less of it to get the nutrition they need.

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