Most people already know that I’m an animal lover. Sometimes I volunteer at my local animal shelter, even if it is only to play with the animals to exercise them out of their cages. It’s hard not to leave the shelter feeling guilty that I didn’t take one of them home with me, but I have acquired enough of them to keep me busy.
Many of the animals brought to shelters are strays, most likely without any vaccinations or “fixed” from breeding. A pet’s vaccination is almost as important as a child’s immunization. Since most shelters offer mandatory vaccinations and spay or neutering with the adoption fee, all a new owner needs to do is keep up with the yearly vaccinations.
Vaccinations/Spay and Neuter
Around the ages of 12-16 weeks, a cat or dog should start getting its mandatory series of vaccinations. Worming for dogs can start as early as two or four weeks old. Other vaccinations for cats and dogs that are not mandatory include Lyme disease, kennel cough, feline leukemia, and infectious peritonitis. The earliest to spay or neuter a pet is around four months old. There are many affordable shot and spay and neuter clinics available for pet owners that don’t want to pay for the full cost of a veterinarian’s office visit.
If deciding on a regular veterinarian, consider asking these questions: Is a labwork fee included in the visit? Is there an overnight stay? Ask what is included in the price. Most younger animals only need minimum labwork.
Some veterinarians suggest using a name brand food for the first year of the animal’s life, because generic foods may have an imbalance of nutrients. Pickier pet owners may want to use organic foods. Many veterinarians now recommend reading the ingredients on the pet food labels, and if one of the first three ingredients is corn, stay away from it because like humans, animals have a difficult time digesting corn.
When weaning cats and dogs, use soft food and then gradually switch to hard food. Hard food decreases dental disease. Since dogs are more prone to dental diseases than cats, some owners like to get a weekly cleaning. Although most of us are guilty of giving little “treats”, constantly feeding your pet table scraps can be unhealthy because it’s not a balanced diet. Most of all, never feed chocolate to a dog, because it acts as a poison.
If your animal does not have a flea problem, do not bathe it in flea dip. Instead, use baby shampoo or other pet-qualified shampoo, and try to keep its ears dry to avoid infections. (I like to use Mane N Tail shampoo and conditioner on my dog.) Always use lukewarm water and keep them warm after a bath. Cleaning their bedding is also important.
Just like humans, animals need love in order to live happily. Dogs can protect us; cats can comfort us. Animals can be some of the best friends we will ever have. Taking care of them as they will us can help keep them around longer.