Caring for a companion animal is a privilege that requires a lifetime commitment. During Responsible Pet Ownership Month, our doctors and veterinary care professionals encourage those considering a new pet to review just a few of the necessary responsibilities to keep Fido or Fluffy happy and healthy for many years.
- Select an animal companion suited to your home and lifestyle. Consider the size of your home, the number of hours you’re away each day, your activity level, and whether or not small children live or will live in your home. If you reside in a small apartment or condo or work long hours, a cat might be a good fit for your environment. If you enjoy exercising outdoors and are looking for a running or walking buddy, short-snouted dogs like English or French bulldogs – who are known for their breathing problems – will most likely have difficulties keeping up with you. Some rescued pets may have had unpleasant experiences with small children in their previous home so be sure to ask questions about who the pet lived with and their comfort level with babies and toddlers.
- Schedule and budget for routine preventative healthcare. Annual or semi-annual (for senior dogs and cats) visits allow our veterinarians to gather a complete and accurate snapshot of your pet’s health so that any changes can be addressed in a timely manner and monitored. In addition to regularly scheduled exams, preventative health care includes parasite detection and prevention and vaccinations. Early detection of illness can improve the chances of a good outcome for your pet, and may mean much fewer expenses for you in the long run.
- Arrange for appropriate socialization and training. Behavioral issues are the number one reason for relinquishment of dogs and cats to shelters. Appropriate socialization, which includes exposing puppies and kittens to new people, animals, stimuli and environments – during the first three months when sociability outweighs fears – is especially important. Every dog deserves a trainer who uses and educates owners about methods that foster mutual trust and respect to strengthen the human-animal bond and help eliminate unwanted behaviors. Appropriate socialization and positive reinforcement training can help reduce incidences of leash pulling, urinating outside of the litterbox, fence running, aggression towards other household pets, and separation anxiety.
- Have a microchip implanted. Microchipping is the most reliable and permanent form of identification for your pet. It is contained in a capsule, smaller than a grain of rice, and implanted just under the skin with a sterile applicator and is non-toxic, hypoallergenic and completely safe. One in three pets will be lost in their lifetime, many of whom were separated from their collar and id tag. After a microchip is implanted, keep the contact information registered with the company up to date with your current address and phone numbers.
- Prepare for an emergency or disaster. Severe weather or lengthy power outages may mean your family needs to take emergency action or leave home for a period of time. Always include your pet(s) when you practice an emergency evacuation procedure so they become familiar with the routine and don’t get left behind. Keep an emergency kit handy that includes your pet’s proof of rabies vaccination, medical records, prescriptions, microchip number, a current photo and first aid supplies so you have everything needed if your pet is injured and requires medical care or is separated from you.
For more information, please call us at (630) 598-0600.