Keeping a pet comes with its own set of responsibilities. Along with scheduled trips to the veterinarian and a proper diet, dogs and cats also require regular grooming sessions as well. Indeed, a lot goes in to keep pets happy and healthy. It is up to the pet parent to ensure that their pet is taken good care of. When it comes to a pet, among the many things that are to be looked into are – veterinary care, water, food, shelter, expression of natural behavior, exercise and grooming. Herein, these shall be discussed in some detail.
Proper veterinary care is the right of every dog and cat maintained as house pets. In addition to scheduled vaccinations and regular health check-ups, it is also the duty of the pet parent concerned to pay close attention to any changes in the appearance or behavior of their pets. Many a times, complacency, when it comes to the welfare of your pets, can greatly complicate things over time. Always, make it a point to take your pet to the veterinarian if you do feel that there is something wrong with them.
For pet parents with money constraints, currently there are many clinics in America that offer free checkups for your pets. In addition to such free clinics, there are also various groups that help pet parents with a pet affected with any particular disease as such. For example, there is a “Diabetic Cats in Need” group as well as a “Help Your Dog Fight Cancer” group operational in America.
When it comes to veterinary care for your dog or cat, you can log onto the internet and look up the various services available. The different kinds of services include:
- End of life care
- Emergency care
- Affordable medications
- Condition and disease-specific assistance
- Low-cost general care
- Spaying or neutering services
All you have to do is log on and key-in the desired search.
Regular grooming sessions are quite important to maintain the optimal health and well-being of your pets. While a cat might usually require a minimal amount of grooming, dogs have to be groomed more, comparatively speaking.
A typical grooming session for cats and dogs involve the following:
- Paw care and clipping of nails
- Check-up of eyes
- Cleaning in and around the ears
- Cleaning the teeth
While a pet haircut or clipping or hair might not be required in every grooming session as such, a haircut, whenever given, is an integral part of the grooming process.
Always ensure that you use only products made specifically for animals. Human shampoos and conditioners, even the best quality ones, end up doing more harm than good when used on animals. Similarly, baby shampoos, though considered to be mild and harmless, are not suitable for using to bathe your cat or dog. Dental care products – such as toothpastes and toothbrushes – should also be made specifically for use on dogs and cats.
When you welcome a pet home, you are binding yourself to that pet’s fate for life. A commitment that should be kept at all costs. Along with providing a home for the cat or dog to call his own, you also have the responsibility of providing a safe shelter to the pet within the household. A place that your cat or dog can rest in and play as well. While for dogs, kennels in the yard are a better option; cats just require a padded area to curl up in. Ensure that your cat or dog has a comfortable shelter all year round. Provide suitable heating and insulation in the winter season, and adequate cooling apparatus in the sweltering heat.
Along with a proper diet and health check-ups, domestic pets – such as cats and dogs – also require adequate amounts of exercise. Cats are easier to exercise, in a way. Just provide them with some toys to pique their curiosity, and your cat will be busy for some time to come. Cats also do not require to be taken on a walk as such. Requiring minimal effort on your part, it is quite easy to exercise a cat.
Dogs, on the other hand, have to be taken out every day for a walk. Some dogs might require more strenuous exercise as compared to other breeds. For example, while a Labrador will be happy with a brief walk around the block, a Hound prefers to keep up the pace and might have to be taken over longer distances. However, if the dog is unwell or the season is adverse, plenty of options for exercising are available within the home as well. Dogs love to play fetch games. A simple Frisbee or ball can keep them busy for hours, provided they have a cooperating pet parent who is willing to oblige. Dogs are also seen to love bounding up and down the stairs. Chew toys are also quite a favorite among dogs.
Fresh and clean drinking water is essential for cats and dogs. Ensure that the water bowl is kept in an easily accessible place for your pet. Drinking water might have to be cooled in the summer season, and warmed up a bit in the winter season. Always select an appropriate water bowl, as per the specific breed of your cat or dog, to minimize the possibility of spills. There are many water additives available as well. As an aid to promote dental hygiene, these water additives can safely be added to the drinking water of your pets. Resulting in fresh breath, clean gums and teeth; water additives are a safe and easy way to manage the dental hygiene of your pet.
Proper dietary practices go a long way in ensuring the health of your pets. Cats are carnivores that require protein and fat rich food. With their natural predatory instincts, cats hunt even if they are properly fed at home. The sense of smell is quite marked in cats. As the smell of food is enhanced when the food is warmed up, cats usually prefer food that is somewhat warm. Cats prefer to have a number of smaller meals throughout the day, rather than concentrating on 1-2 large meals during the day.
Dogs also require a balanced diet to be happy and healthy. In addition to clean drinking water, dogs also need a diet fortified with proteins, minerals, vitamins and fats. Most of the commercially sold dog food brands have all the required nutrients in their products. While there are specific formulations for grown-up dogs, many dog food brands also offer a wide array of products targeted at puppies. In case of any doubt, consult with your veterinarian as to which would be the most appropriate dog food brand for your pet.
Express Natural Behavior
People associated with pets – such as, veterinarians, pet parents, behaviorists, welfare workers as well as others who are in close contact –generally agree on 5 Freedoms that a pet must have in order to thrive. These 5 Freedoms, laid down in 1965 by the Brambell Commission, are:
- Freedom from thirst and hunger
- Freedom from disease, injury and pain
- Freedom from distress and fear
- Freedom from discomfort
- Freedom to express normal behavior
Stress is caused to a pet if any of the above-mentioned 5 Freedoms are denied. While the people in close contact with cats and dogs generally take into account the other freedoms mentioned, the freedom to express normal behavior is mostly taken for granted. Normal behavior in cats and dogs should be acknowledged and the pet not punished for doing something that he cannot help doing. For example, clawing at things, chewing, marking territory are all normal behaviors. In order for cats and dogs to be happy, they must be allowed to mingle with others of their own kind. While dogs can meet other dogs whenever they are out for a walk or in the park, a cat can encounter kindred spirits while free-ranging in the vicinity.
To maintain their optimal health and well-being, cats and dogs require many things, such as – veterinary care, exercise, shelter, food, water and grooming. Along with providing such basic amenities, dogs and cats ought also to be allowed the freedom of expressing their natural behavior.