If you’re like most Americans, your pets are furry family members. You lovingly pamper, protect and provide for them, doing your best to extend the lives of your faithful companions. The American Veterinary Medical Association says that a typical dog owner will spend nearly $6,000 on their beloved pooch’s health care. And who could blame you? One look into those soulful, loyal eyes and you’re reaching for your wallet. Take heart! These preventative measures can help you take a bite out of your pet care bill.
Bring home a pound puppy. Purebred animals are often at high risk for genetic disorders due to years of inbreeding. Also, the cost of adopting from a shelter is significantly lower than buying from a breeder or pet shop. And a mongrel mutt will love you just as much as a pedigreed poodle would!
Stay on schedule. Keep current on shots, heartworm deterrents, and check-ups to help ward off a number of ailments. Watch for any changes at home as well. Many diseases and disorders are much easier, therefore less costly, to tackle if caught early.
You are what you eat, and so are they! Don’t cut corners when it comes to pet foods and treats. Most low-cost chows and cookies are teeming with non-nutritious fillers and meat byproducts. Proper vitamins and minerals are needed to maintain everything from eyesight to skin to joints. Look for food and treats made using human grade ingredients. Another option is a homemade raw food diet. Talk to your vet about what’s best for you and your pet.
Clean up your act! Litter boxes and potty areas should be cleaned daily. Keep play areas separate from potties. Such places are a breeding ground for disease and bacteria. If your tail-wagger takes a roll in the mess, be sure to hose him down right away.
Get physical. We all need exercise, and Fido and Tabby are no exception. Make sure your pet gets playtime every day. Walk around the block, throw a ball or dangle a toy. Not only will it strengthen muscles and bones, but it’s also fun! And a happier pet is a healthier pet.
Pet-proof your home. Your pet may be attracted to toxic items around the house. Keep any poisonous plants out of reach. Clean up chemical spills – such as antifreeze – immediately. And no matter how much he begs, never give your dog chocolate! Even small amounts of these things can be lethal.
Keep that smile pretty! Poor dental hygiene can lead to joint problems and even kidney, liver or heart disease. Raw bones and dental chews help scrape off plaque. Your vet can also advise you how and when to clean your pet’s teeth at home.
Bug out. Take steps to thwart fleas, ticks and mosquitoes from attacking your pet. These parasites aren’t just itch-causing vermin. Their bites can cause deadly infections such as Lyme disease and heartworm. Protect your pet with vet-recommended shampoos and treatments. Make sure your home is free of standing water or piles of wood, which may attract these pesky pests.
Born to be wild? Don’t let your pet roam the streets. The dangers out there are countless: other cats or dogs, cars, tainted food, wild animals and traps, and, depending on where you live, venomous snakes, poisonous insects, even toxic toads! Spend some safe quality time outside together. Even cats can be leashed trained.
The most important tip is also the easiest to carry out. Love your pet! An animal that is truly cared for and valued will be more active, have its needs consistently met and, on the whole, be happier and healthier. And the bonus? You will be, too!