Responsible Pet Owners Month

by Dr. Shelby

February is Responsible Pet Owners Month, and is therefore a great time to brush up on your facts about what it means to be a responsible and loving pet parent. There’s no question that we love our pets, but we may not always do the things we need to do to ensure their optimum health and happiness for years to come. So, run down the following list of “Responsible Pet Parenting Essentials” and see how you’re doing!

  1. Is your dog or cat spayed/neutered? Neutering your pet is critical for reducing the pet overpopulation problem, reducing unwanted pregnancies, and cutting back on a number of health risks including life-threatening infections and reproductive cancers.

  2. Has your pet seen a veterinarian in the last 6 to 12 months? Your dog or cat needs a checkup from your veterinarian at least annually. Dogs and cats are very good at hiding illnesses, and annual exams for your dog or cat are just as important as taking your child to the doctor to make sure he is growing and developing properly, is maintaining a proper weight, and hasn’t developed any concerning problems. If your pet is over the age of 8 years, 6-month checkups are advised as well.

  3. Is your pet up to date on his vaccinations? You should discuss the proper vaccinations with your veterinarian while still taking care to not over-vaccinate. Rabies vaccines, in particular, are often required by state or county laws. Open the floor for discussion with your vet and find out exactly what vaccines your pet needs, what illnesses he is most at risk for that preventative vaccinations could help, and develop your plan!

  4. When was the last time your pet saw the dentist? February is also pet dental health month. Since your dog or cat doesn’t brush his teeth, he needs regular dental cleanings from your veterinarian as well! Even if he does allow you to brush for him, he still needs regular cleanings to help keep his gums healthy, just like we do.

  5. Is your pet microchipped? Microchipping your pet could save his life and help reunite you if you were ever separated.  It’s a quick, essentially painless procedure, and is much more likely to safely bring your pet home than just a collar and ID tag, which could easily get ripped off outdoors in the elements.

  6. Are you prepared for an emergency? Every pet parent should be prepared at all times for emergencies, which includes emergency travel gear (carriers, harnesses, leashes, etc.), food, and first aid supplies.

  7. Are you providing the optimum nutrition for your pet? Dogs are omnivores and cats are carnivores, and both require very specific diets for optimum health. You should carefully evaluate the food you’re feeding and speak with your veterinarian or a pet expert to find out whether your pet’s diet is ideal for his or her long-term wellbeing. Both cats and dogs also need access to fresh water at all times, and would all benefit from a pet water fountain, which encourages more drinking.

    Being a responsible pet parent requires time and commitment, as well as all the tender loving care you can provide. If you answered “no” to any of the above questions, February is a great time to be inspired to make positive changes for the health and happiness of your furry companion!