Those snuggles on the couch when you’re feeling sick, the wagging tail at the very sight of you, those moments of sheer contentment, happiness, and love. These are just a few of the intangible and priceless benefits and blessings of owning a dog or cat. How better to show your appreciation than by proving the best pet care possible!
Food – Each animal needs food to survive, but also to thrive. Cats require nutrients usually only found in a meat-based diet, while dogs have evolved to be able to garner nutrients from a much wider dietary scope. As with humans, dogs need a well-rounded diet for nutrition, containing protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, and minerals.
When looking for the right brand of food for your furry friend, a good starting point would be to check for the veterinarian and the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) approval. Any reputable pet food manufacturer needs to be able to prove that their food products meet these standards, so look closely at the label and packaging: ingredients (the first one listed will be the source of the food’s main protein), the “guaranteed analysis panel” (from the AAFCO), and a “nutritional adequacy statement” (which tells you if the food is meant for growth, weight loss, or maintenance, and other important info).
Yes, taste is important, but lots of foods that taste good are not necessarily good for your body, right? While you want your pet to like the food, what is actually in the food is more important. Unfortunately, most of the time, a higher priced food will provide higher quality ingredients, but you need to weigh the pros and cons to make the best choice for your pet and your wallet. Take into consideration the fact that better nutrition might help lead to fewer Vet visits and digestive issues. Or, perhaps the serving size is larger than that of a lower priced (and lower quality) food? That means the price might actually balance out in the long run.
Water – Water is a critical part of survival, for pets, plants, humans…you name it. So make sure that fresh, clean water is available to your pet 24 hours a day! Especially if your furry friend spends a good deal of time outside, you will need to ensure a clean, ever-ready water source. If heading out on vacation, remember to take a gallon (depending on how long you will be away) of your pet’s regular drinking water to mix with the water from travel, since abrupt changes in water can cause digestion issues.
Exercise – Cats are pretty low maintenance, in terms of exercise. If they want to play, they play. If they want to sit, they sit. If they want to sleep…you get the idea. But they will play, and do need mental stimulation in order to prevent health and behavior problems.
But dogs, regardless of the breed, need some form and degree of daily exercise. Play time is some of the best exercise both you and your pal can get. Fetch, a walk in the park, a run in the yard will all help to keep your pet healthy and happy. Play and exercise also help to curb your dog’s boredom, which is vitally important on several levels. Not only is a sedentary life not a healthy one, it can also lead to destructive behavior (chewing, scratching, gnawing, and generally wreaking havoc on your home and belongings) as well as behavioral problems (barking, biting, nipping, separation anxiety, just to name a few). Best of all though, play and exercise will give you time to bond with your furry friend, and who couldn’t use a little more bonding time?
Veterinarian care – Put in the necessary time and effort to find a reputable, skilled, qualified, and caring Vet for your Fido or Fluffy. Online sites such as www.ASPCA.org and www.HealthyPet.com (sponsored by the American Animal Hospital Association) will help point you in the right direction. Also, be sure to ask your family and friends for referrals; they will have great, first-hand, helpful information that you can count on. Remember, your Vet will not only be the one to treat your pet for preventative care (including annual checkups/shots), but they will also be the one you turn to if and when serious conditions or illnesses arise.
It’s simple, really. For all that love and all those snuggles and kisses they give you over a lifetime, your pet deserves the best pet care you can provide!