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February is Responsible Pet Owners Month

February is a busy month for pet healthcare awareness. Besides being Pet Dental Month, it is also Responsible Pet Owners Month.

Here are some suggestions for being a responsible pet owner…

Spay or neuter your pet. To prevent the companion animal overpopulation from getting worse, spaying or neutering is the most effective means. The ASPCA estimates that five to seven million animals enter shelters nationwide each year

Schedule a semi-annual veterinary checkup. Most animals are experts at concealing pain and illness. That’s why it’s so important for your pet to visit the vet every 6 months for a full check-up. Remember, a healthy lifestyle and regular vet visits are the first steps to a long, happy life with your pet. Especially important are geriatric exams for senior pets. (Tip: have your pet’s oral health evaluated as well)

ID and/or microchip your pet. Current ID tags on your dog or cat’s collar are obvious must-haves, but having your pet microchipped great increases the chances of a reunion should your pet become lost. Make sure that the information on your pet’s microchip file is up to date.

Be prepared. Most first aid kits can be purchased fully stocked, but check from time to time to make sure the contents are fresh. And here’s a great list of the most important emergency supplies you should have ready should you need them in a hurry: water, food, medications, proof of ownership, proof of recent vaccinations, emergency help list, leashes, extra collars, pet carriers, ID tags, first aid kit, creature comforts (like a pet bed or familiar blanket and toy).

Travel Safely. Make sure your pet is secure in his spot and not bouncing around in the back or helping you drive in the front. One misplaced paw can cause a world of hurt, so teach your buddy early to respect the rules of being a safe passenger. Pet safety restraints are widely available now. (Also see: “Stress-Free Vet Visits for Your Cat“)

Pet proof your home. Dogs and cats are curious by nature, so there’s always the possibility that they’ll get into anything. Because of this, it’s important to avoid bringing potentially hazardous products into your home. Being aware of the dangers of certain houseplants, foods, medications, lawn care products, household items, and cleaning agents, and choosing more “bio-friendly” products are usually a good place to start. Here’s an extensive list from Pet Poison Helpline. Their number is 800-213-6680. Here’s a helpful list from Cornell University of plants that are toxic to dogs. And here’s one from The Cat Fancier’s Association for cats.

Feed your pet right. Nutrition is paramount for our pets, to keep them healthy, happy, and disease-free into old age. Today, we have healthier options when it comes to selecting a proper diet of dinners, treats and supplements for our furry friends. Do your research, read labels, and avoid any products that either come from China or may have Chinese ingredients as part of their products. Treats seem especially prone to recall, but dry and canned foods are also on the AVOID list. “Dog Food Advisor” puts out a free newsletter about dogs foods, recalls, and reviews.  Here’s a good general source for dog food ratings. And here’s a good general source for cat food ratings Again, the best advice is do your own research. There are also lots of places to find recipes for homemade dog and cat diets – but remember to balance their diets – whether you do kibble, canned, homemade or raw, even the best food probably needs supplements.

Teach children to respect animals. Teach by example! Children learn much of what they know by watching those around them, so one of the best ways to teach children is by showing them that you care about animals. Always supervise young children and dogs and cats. Teach children the proper way to approach a dog or cat. Teach them that staring at an animal is not good. Always ask the owner before approaching a strange dog. And remember, it’s never okay to stick your hands through anything to pet a dog. Ideas and educational materials for teaching kids to be kind to animals are available from the American Humane Organization.

The bottom line – do your research and make your pet’s life as trouble-free, healthy, and happy as possible, so you can enjoy life together for many,many years!

Some info courtesy of Webvet
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