Animal and Pet Care

Naturally we want our pets to be happy and healthy. As members of our family - and yes, many people treat their pets like close relations - it's our responsibility to keep them looked after in every aspect. This doesn't just include giving the animals water and food, but in fact looking after their complete health, such as making sure they get plenty of exercise (this helps us too as an extra benefit) and making sure they are cleaned regularly and feel cared for and loved. In return they give us a very real physical and psychological benefit from having them in our lives. It's a win-win situation.

Feeding Facts

The Right Food - Always be sure to provide your pets with the food that is suited to them from a nutritional perspective first and formost. While it's true a dog will happily share your dinner with you, the contents of that food is not best suited to him and may cause long term health concerns. It's best to check with your veterinarian on what the best choice of food is for your pet. Keep in mind that an animals nutritional requirements can change with age or environment and be sure to match their food with whatever it optimal. If you serve your pet processed food, be sure that the first ingrediet listed on the packaging is what you expect it to be. For example, for dog food, the first ingredient should be meat and not "some meat related by-product that someone stuck in a can".

Mealtimes are Important - Depending on the animal your pet may be willing to eat simply because it is bored. This can lead to weight issues that can seriously affect the health of your animal. Determine the best times for your feeding schedule and do your best to stick to it.

No Mooching - Do not feed your pet table scraps. Not only are they high in fat and calories but it is unlikely that your food is nutritionally suited to your animals. Do not let hte animals tell you it's ok, it's a trick!

Great Grooming

If you want your pet to look great and be healthy, you should regularly groom them. This includes brushing them often (many pets grow to absolutely love being brushed, but they have to get used to it first), and giving them an inspection to make sure they aren't in need of treatment for a small injury or infection. Checking regularly for small things can prevent them from growing into big problems later.

Areas to Check:

  • Ears - Check the ears for infection, if you see any discharge or odor take your pet to get checked out by a vet.
  • Eyes - Animals tend to not enjoy getting their eyes checked but a quick peak can be very useful in maintaining their health. This is also a good time to trim any hair that might get into their eyes.
  • Feet - Just like us, our pets have toe nails that grow over time. Even if you use a scratching post or similar tool to help your pets take care of their nails, you may have to trim them from time to time. The key here is to check regularly so that the nails don't get in the way when they walk or grow into the animals paws, which can happen over time and is painful to your pet to fix. When trimming their nails, be sure not to cut the nails too close as that will cause the animal to bleed and likely be very upset with you. Nail trimming is essential for maintaining good health. If a dog's nails are allowed to grow, they will curl over into a spiral shape; walking will become increasingly painful to the dog as they grow, putting pressure on the dogs toes (a bit like walking in shoes that are too small). Uncut nails may curl so far that they pierce the paw pad, leading to infection and debilitating pain. If one does not trim a dog's nails on a monthly basis the quick will grow along with the nail, making it nearly impossible to cut properly. Owners may choose to trim nails themselves or may opt to take their pet to a groomer or veterinarian. Nail trimming is done with a nail clipper. There are two main types of nail clippers, the guillotine clipper and the standard scissors nail clipper.
  • Teeth - The health of your pet's teeth is vital to the long term health of your animal. Over time plague and wear can cause disease to your animal, leading to infection of the gums and tooth loss. Just like us, our animals should get regular dental checkups.

Wonderful Walking

Pet walking is both a pastime and a profession involving the act of a person walking with an animal, typically from the pet's residence and then returning. This constitutes part of the daily exercise regime needed to keep your animal healthy. It also provides exercise and companionship for the walker.

Dog Walking

A study by Michigan State University showed that people who walk their dogs are 34% more likely to meet expected levels of exercise, with a recommended level of 150 minutes of activity such as dog walking per week. Matthew Reeves, the co-author of the study said, "There is no magic bullet in getting people to reach those benchmarks but walking a dog has a measurable impact."

Professional Walkers

Professional dog walkers, both individuals and businesses, are paid by dog owners to walk their dogs for them. Some dog walkers will take many dogs for a walk at once, while others will not. Also growing in popularity is dog running. Dog runners are professionals who will take your dog running, usually between 1 and 10 miles for a set fee, usually not more than 2 dogs at a time. In some jurisdictions dog walking businesses must be licensed and have animal first-aid-trained employees. Professional dog walking services can be obtained locally or thorough online referral services.

Wresting your Animals with Soap and Water - the Art of Bathing

Dogs can be bathed by being sprayed with a hand-held shower head, or doused with water from a bucket. Often, one bath will not make a dog truly clean. A second bath is excellent to ensure the entire body has been cleaned. Dogs should be bathed with warm, not hot water, in order to make it a more enjoyable experience. Dogs with a heavy or matted coat should never be bathed without first being completely brushed out or clipped of any mats.

Many types of shampoos and conditioners formulated for dogs are available; however, using a shampoo without mixing it with water may be a bit strong for a dog that's just getting a touch-up bath. If the dog isn't filthy, water is mixed with shampoo in a 1:1 ratio to make it easier on the dog and to make sure it rinses entirely. If any shampoo remains on the dog after the bath, it may become irritating to the skin. Most dogs do not require frequent bathing; shampooing a coat too often can strip the coat of its natural oils, causing it to dry out.

As a sidenote: before you do sudzy battle with your pet, be sure to cut off their line of retreat. Closing the bathroom door prior to the beginning of the process will make it easier to keep them in the water when you take your eyes off them for a second to look for the shampoo.