Feb 15 2012

Celebrating Responsible Pet Ownership

Not only is February National Pet Dental Health month, it’s also Responsible Pet Owner month! How can you be a responsible guardian of your four-legged friend, and spread awareness for others to do the same? We’ve got some tips for you.

The epitome of pet responsibility is having your pets spayed or neutered. Dogs and cats who are not fixed run a much higher risk of roaming – even if they are indoor pets, they may try to get out and find a mate. If unaccustomed to the dangers of being outside unsupervised, they could easily get hit by a car, lost, or attacked by any number of creatures (have you heard about all of the coyotes in Atlanta lately?). Intact animals also are much more likely to get cancers of their reproductive organs. Breast, ovarian/uterine and prostate cancer can and do happen to companion animals, but neutering drastically reduces the risk. Pyometra is a painful infection of the uterus that intact female dogs and cats can develop. Even after expensive treatment, recovery is not 100% guaranteed. Avoiding these medical afflictions is much easier with an altered pet.

Preventive healthcare is another way to fulfill your obligation to your pets. Visiting your veterinarian before a problem manifests itself is critical. The earlier signs of underlying disease are caught, the more successful treatment may be. Keeping your pet’s diet, activity level and weight in check contribute to his overall well-being and quality of life, and his vet can make sure he is on track. Vets are trained to spot little things, and the examination equipment and lab tests are used to find symptoms unseen by the naked eye.

Cleaning up after your dog when you take him for a walk is also very important. Dog feces that is left outside gets into our waterways, contaminating it. It’s also against the law to leave out poo, and your neighbors will not be happy with you. Stepping in a doggie mine can ruin an otherwise perfectly good day!

Even if your pet doesn’t go outside, she should have identification. Rabies and name tags should be on her collar. In the event that she gets lost, a microchip is even more useful. If her collar comes off for any reason, she can still be identified by a vet clinic or shelter. However if you don’t keep your contact information updated they won’t be able to reach you, even if they have the microchip number.

Grooming is important too. Many people think cats don’t need any grooming, but they do. Regular brushing can cut down on hairballs and prevent tangles, especially on long-haired felines. Even though they clean themselves cats can develop skin problems and may need more care for that. Dogs need to be bathed regularly. Their nails may also need to be clipped, depending on how long they tend to grow. Walking on concrete can help wear them down a bit, if done regularly. Some pets need to have their anal glands expressed if they are unable to do it themselves, or they can develop problems. Overweight pets tend to need help with this more than svelte ones.

Lastly, make sure you get your pet some exercise! We all know that it’s important for our health, and the same goes for our furry friends. They get bored and sluggish if they don’t have any activities to keep them busy and moving. The pet obesity problem is growing, and the only way to prevent it invading our homes is to keep our cats and dogs fit.

What do you do as a responsible owner? How do you demonstrate responsible pet ownership to your friends, family, and neighbors?


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