While most pet parents agree that adopting a pet can be one of life's most rewarding experiences, it is also a big responsibility. Since your pet will be totally dependent upon you, before you make the decision to bring a pet into your home, you should be prepared to provide your him or her with everything necessary for a lifetime of good health. Your pet will gladly repay you with a lifetime of unconditional love and companionship. In addition to routine veterinary care, below are several important pet care practices to incorporate with regard to your pet's health:
Nutritious pet food builds the foundation for your pet's good health. Feed your pet a high-quality pet food formulated specifically for your dog's or cat's life-stage. There are pet foods formulated for puppies and kittens, adult pets, senior pets, and pets with special requirements, such as weight-loss diets. Learn to read and understand pet food labels. Pet food ingredients are listed in order of total volume; the first few ingredients listed on the pet food label are therefore the most important. Michael Dym, VMD, recommends, "...two out of the first three ingredients listed on the label be meat." Avoid pet foods with fillers or by-products as main ingredients.
Did you know fleas can spread diseases? Cats and dogs can contract tapeworms from ingesting a flea infected with tapeworm larvae, and other diseases such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever also transmitted by ticks. Additionally, flea allergy dermatitis (hot spots) is one of the most common skin conditions in pets in which a pet is allergic to flea bites. Using a monthly flea and tick treatment can help reduce the risk of these diseases, making it an important step in providing well-rounded pet care.
Heartworm disease is nearly 100% preventable, and giving a monthly heartworm preventative takes a proactive step toward quality pet care and well-being. Heartworms are transmitted to pets through bites from a mosquito infected with heartworm larvae. For dogs, treating heartworm disease can be potentially life-threatening and painful. Unfortunately, for cats infected with heartworms there is no approved treatment. So it's best to prevent. Learn how buying your pet's heartworm preventative through PetMeds® can save you time and give you peace of mind in our article The Importance of Heartworm Preventatives.
Good dental health contributes to your pet's overall health, and the earlier you practice dental care, the better. If not removed, plaque on your pet's teeth will harden into tartar which can lead to periodontal disease. Familiarize your dog or cat with daily brushing using a toothbrush and toothpaste designed for pets. If your pet will not tolerate brushing, try a water additive or dental treats to help fight plaque and tartar buildup.
As your dog or cat ages, the cartilage in your pet's joints begins to wear, eventually leading to painful arthritis. Glucosamine for dogs and cats is among the most popular ingredient in many top-rated joint supplements. Many joint supplements also include chondroitin and MSM for cartilage and joint tissue health. Most joint supplements are available as a flavored chewable tablet or chew your pet will enjoy eating like a treat. Starting your pet on a joint supplement early on can help your pet stay active through his or her golden years.
Even when you provide your dog or cat the very best, he or she can experience unexpected illness or injury. Much as you have your own health insurance, you can protect your pet with a pet insurance policy. Depending on your pet's insurance plan, it may cover:
To help with pet care costs, consider pet insurance early in your pet's life. While many insurance programs have no upper age limit for enrollment, many plans will not provide insurance coverage for pets that are already ill or injured.
Although pet care can be a serious topic, it doesn't always have to be. Your pet treasures time spent with you. Set aside time each day to exercise, play, and hang out with your dog or cat. There are a wide range of pet toys for dogs and cats to provide hours of stimulating playtime. Plus, they help keep your pet occupied when you are away.