Owning a pet can prove to be a huge responsibility both in terms of time and commitment. Just as you would make accommodations for a new child or member of the family, pets may require a variety of special considerations to keep them safe, healthy and happy. When bringing a new pet home as a member of the family, it is worth considering what can be required from you and your family.  Have a look at this new puppy checklist.

Roughly 24% of UK adults have a cat and 26% own a dog[1], making them the most owned pets in the country. These pet owners understand the importance of proper day-to-day supervision, maintenance and love that these pets need.

With this in mind, how exactly should dog and cat owners treat their pets? While each situation may require unique considerations, pet owners in general should follow a set of ideal guidelines when caring for dogs or cats. As such, let’s examine seven ideal care tips for any dog or cat in the home.

Schedule Regular Vet Visits

Pet owners who see abrupt changes in their pet’s behaviour may rush to the vet to see what ails them, but ideal treatment for your dog or cat doesn’t involve merely emergency visits. Regularly scheduled check-ups are generally recommended by vets, with once per year being a reasonable frequency for such visits[2].

Vets can inspect your pet’s overall health and evaluate a plethora of conditions during these check-ups. Regular visits may detect emerging health conditions or illnesses earlier, which in some situations may make treatment possible (or at least easier). Regular vet visits may also be an opportune time to consider other perks for your pet, such as vaccinations, microchipping and flea & tick treatments.

Evaluate Pet Insurance Options

Nobody wants to spend more money than is required for any service or procedure. The same is surely true for both you and your pet’s health. As such, evaluating how much impact pet insurance can have on your long-term costs is a worthwhile consideration. Pet insurance may reduce your overall costs when your loved one is in need of urgent medical attention.

There are a variety of pet insurance options available to consumers in search of coverage. As one example, you can find pet insurance for both dogs and cats in the form of Maximum Benefit & Lifetime coverage. Even for pets in remarkably healthy condition, there may come the day when expensive or complicated medical procedures are necessary: having pet insurance may prove to be very useful in such circumstances.

Invest in High Quality Food

Many pet owners consider several factors when shopping for pet food: cost, weight & density, and quality are among the most common considerations. There is also some subjective debate over the benefits of wet or canned food compared to dry food or kibble. Generally speaking, the nutritional content of the food in question is more important than whether it comes in dry or canned form[3].

As such, evaluating exactly what ingredients are used in a particular food, its precise nutritional content and the processes those ingredients undergo is a better use of your resources. Pet owners who invest in high quality food options for their dogs and cats may discover that the nutritional quality is superior. There are also many “human-grade” dog and cat food options on the market now for those who wish to give their pets an experience similar to their own.

Maintain Proper Grooming Habits

Both dogs and cats have natural grooming habits designed to maintain their internal and external health. Many dogs shed excess fur during warmer periods, while cats’ tongues are optimised for cleaning their fur. Despite these natural biological and evolutionary advantages, pet owners should not forgo assisting their pets with other tasks of grooming.

Brushing your dog’s teeth can help stave off a variety of illnesses, such as gingivitis, tooth decay and organ damage[4]. Investing in a high-quality pet brush and using it regularly will aid in the distribution of natural oils throughout the coats of dogs and cats, remove tangling and excess fur, and improve blood circulation[5].

Consider Spaying/Neutering

Virtually every vet – barring a specific condition affecting your cat or dog – will recommend spaying or neutering your pets at an early age[6]. On a large scale, this policy helps reduce the number of stray or unwanted cats and dogs in urban and rural environments alike. On an individual scale, and with regard to your pets specifically, the benefits are a bit more tangible.

For example, benefits of spaying and neutering your pet dogs include an improvement in bad behaviour, reduction in risk of various diseases like prostate cancer and breast cancer, and a decreased chance of messy or unwanted encounters within the home during heat.

Don’t Forget Toys

Dogs and cats aren’t so different from us: they need food, water, shelter – and outlets for energy, aggression and attention. Just as you wouldn’t likely appreciate being left at home with nothing to do, your pets also enjoy occasional outlets of entertainment.

Toys serve a variety of purposes for both dogs and cats[7]. One key benefit is exercise: toys can help expend pent-up energy during the day, ensuring that your dog or cat doesn’t keep you awake at night. These toys can also provide your pets – particularly dogs – with a form of mental stimulation that regulates behaviour in general. Play time can also be a fun experience for both pets and owners to bond and allows owners to show a bit of extra affection and attention to their pets.

Watch Your Pet’s Weight

Most are quite familiar with the health risks and problems that overweight people face, but may not be aware that such conditions can impact both dogs and cats. Rewarding your pet with a treat may seem like a good idea – and occasionally, it is – but an excess number of calories can add up quickly. For pets under 25 kilogrammes, the absolute minimum intake is 30 calories per day per kilogramme (plus an additional 70 calories); most pets need 1.6 to 1.8 times this figure to maintain a healthy weight[8]. Click here to calculate how many calories your dog needs.

Failure to maintain proper weight for your dog or cat can potentially lead to a plethora of illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease and various cancers[9]. Even without the presence of such ailments, your pet may find it difficult to move about or otherwise enjoy life as freely with extra weight clinging to them – so watch their weight and give them some help along the way.

With these seven specific care tips, pet owners can navigate the most common obstacles in owning a dog or cat. The advice here can improve pet health, lift mood and may even create stronger bonds between you and your pet. As such, exercise your responsibility as a pet owner and give your loved ones the lives they deserve.

[1]     https://www.pdsa.org.uk/get-involved/our-campaigns/pdsa-animal-wellbeing-report/uk-pet-populations-of-dogs-cats-and-rabbits

[2]     https://www.purina.co.uk/dogs/health-and-nutrition/when-to-see-a-vet/the-importance-of-regular-vet-check-ups-for-dogs

[3]     https://www.petfinder.com/cats/cat-nutrition/wet-or-dry-cat-food/

[4]     https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/5NvL7qyhd2ZFXmHzSLT7RBC/the-trust-me-big-experiment-what-s-the-best-way-to-keep-your-pet-s-teeth-clean

[5]     https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/cats/health/grooming

[6]     https://www.bva.co.uk/take-action/our-policies/neutering-of-cats-and-dogs/

[7]     https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/dogs/environment/toys

[8]     https://www.vetknowhow.co.uk/blog/how-many-calories-does-my-dog-or-cat-need

[9]     https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/general/obesity