Adopting a Pet: Living Your Best Pet Life

1/1/2018

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Your pet adoption is complete, but your new life together is just beginning. Here's some information to help you get started living your best pet life.

A place to call home

A true home starts with a comfortable bed. A pet's bed is a truly sacred spot. While every other place in the house is shared, the bed is a place where your pet claims sole ownership. A good bed is not just a place to sleep. It's a safe zone to retreat when they are scared, sick, or injured. Create a soft spot that's big enough for your pet to lounge. Keep the bed in a consistent spot. If you're not sure where to place the bed, try multiple spots and see which one your pet favors. When your pet is asleep in their spot, let them sleep. You don't like to be awaken from your naps, neither does your dog or cat. Be sure to keep the bed clean, especially if your pet sheds.

Food and water are also fundamental aspects of pet life. There is no shortage of pet food brands and flavors from which to choose. Pets can be finicky when it comes to their diet. If you're not sure what your dog or cat likes, try smaller samples initially. Your pet should enjoy their food, but also be able to digest it properly. Any vommitting or diarhea after feeding should be cause to try another brand. Your new veterinarian might make recommendations when allergies, digestive issues, or weight concerns are present. Water should always be cool and fresh. Dirt and pet hair can contaminate your pet's water. Check their bowl daily to ensure the water is clean. There are some handy products that automatically circulate and filter water. If you happen to to adopt multiple pets, it's important to keep bedding, water, and food separate for each dog and cat

Obesity is a growing epidemic among pets. As an owner, it's tempting to feed your pet as much food as they want to eat. The desire to bond with pets leads many owners to feed their pets human food (feed from the table). Both of these are bad ideas, especially when combined with low activity or little exercise. While we're on the subject of food and feeding, it's important to understand that our pets are susceptible to many of the same health conditions as humans. This includes obesity and all the negative effects that come with it. Be sure to only feed your pet the amount of food they require. If you're not sure how much to feed, speak with your vet. If your vet prescribes a special diet for medical reasons, it's crucial to stick to that formula.

Cats have a few special needs, above just food and water. A litter box is a necessity for an indoor cat. Litter boxes range from simple plastic containers, to covered and odor-containing solutions. Whichever product you choose for the container, make sure you select a scoopable litter to make for easier cleanup. Cats also value a special place to scratch. Scratching relieves stress and helps with grooming claws. Cats will instinctively seek out a spot to claw away. A good scratching post could spare your carpet or furniture.

Live your best pet life

Get to know a good veterinarian

Your new pet needs a doctor for routine wellness, vaccinations, and of course illness. A veterinarian should see your pet within the first month of your adoption. This is to ensure your pet is truly healthy and free of illness. It also establishes your relationship with the doctor, in case a sudden illness occurs. A good shelter will make you aware of any injuries or illnesses your pet might have before you go home. However, not all adverse health conditions are discovered in the shelter, especially if your pet was only there for a short time.

Choosing a veterinarian can be difficult. Your vet office should be friendly, courteous, and treat your pet with the utmost care. They should also clearly discuss your pet's health with you and take the time to answer any of your questions. Many pet owners will also consider proximity to home or work when finding a vet. Some vet offices will allow pets to stay all day for their visits. If the vet office is close to where you work or live, you can conveniently drop off and pickup your pet during the week. Don't be afraid to ask your friends and family to recommend a good doctor. All vets will advertise good service, but word-of-mouth can be much more reliable in this situation.

Another reason to see a vet right away is to establish regular preventatives for your pet. Fleas and ticks are more than just a nuisance. For a dog or cat, they can cause skin irritation, anemia, or tapeworms. Flea collars or monthly topical treatments can repel these pesky critters and keep your pet safe. You'll also need a preventative for heartworm. Heartworm is a major concern, mainly for dogs, but cats are not immune. Heartworm is a curable condition for dogs, while cats can only be treated for the symptoms. It's better to use a monthly treatment to prevent heartworm. Only a veterinarian can prescribe the proper dose for topical flea and internal heartworm preventatives. Preventatives can be purchased through a vet clinic or through online merchants (provided you have the proper prescription), many of which offer automatic refill shipments to save time.

One final word on pet care. Always be truthful and honest with your veterinarian about your pet’s illnesses or injuries. Pets can’t speak for themselves when it comes to pain. Provide as much information as you can about how your pet has been acting, their symptoms, and any possible causes (ate something toxic, fought with another animal, etc).

What about health insurance?

Health insurance for pets is becoming ever more popular. Some companies even offer pet health insurance as part of their employment benefits package, alongside human health insurance. Advances in veterinary science have led to improved treatments for a wide variety of pet illnesses and diseases. But, the expenses for serious conditions and emergencies can really add up.

Much like human health insurance, individual plans and coverage vary. Some owners choose more comprehensive coverage, with lower deductibles and less out-of-pocket expenses. These plans are usually more expensive, but offer more coverage for more frequent veterinary visits. Other owners retain higher deductible plans, solely for emergencies. These plans are less expensive, and provide assistance mainly for sudden injuries or critical illnesses.

Consider your pet's age, breed, and any pre-existing health conditions when deciding if pet insurance is the right choice.

Staying fit

Dogs and cats need exercise. The health benefits are renowned. Exercise helps control weight (a growing problem among pets), maintains muscle condition, and helps with digestion.

What's not so well-known is how exercise benefits your pet's mental and emotional well-being. Exercise can help with behavior problems that stem from a lack of stimulus. Pet's aren't immune to boredom, anxiety, even depression. Regular activity keeps your pet engaged and helps burn off excess energy that can get them into trouble around the house. The amount of exercise depends on the breed and age of your pet.

Ways to exercise your cat

Ways to exercise your dog

Looking good is feeling good

Grooming isn't just about making your pet look good. Regular bathing, brushing, and clipping are essential to your pet's comfort and health. Dogs and cats have a way of finding dirt. While cats are capable of self-cleansing, excessive dirt from a trip outside might warrant a good bath. Dogs need a little more help in the bathing department.

Assuming your dog didn't just roll around in the mud, a regular bath every 2-3 weeks should suffice. Careful not to bathe too often, as this will dry the skin. Make sure to select an appropriate shampoo.

Brushing is also important to prevent matting. The breed of your dog and how you keep the coat length will determine how often you should brush. Longer haired dogs will need to be brushed more often, possibly daily for long, thick coats. Shorter coats may only need brushing after a bath.

Long nails can be uncomfortable, even painful if they grow back into the paws. Hopefully, you've purchased a scratching post to help your cat maintain their claws. A dog's nails will need to be clipped by hand. Nail clipping can be tricky. Make sure you understand how far to clip and how best to handle a nervous dog. If you're not sure or don't have the patience, obtain the services of a professional groomer.

When it comes time to trim the coat, most owners opt for assistance from a groomer. A trained groomer will specialize in cuts for all breeds. They also know how best to trim around the face, ears, paws, and genitals. Many groomers offer additional services like bathing, nail clipping, and expressing anal sacs. Don't forget to bring proof of vaccinations for your first visit. Groomers will require pets to be fully vaccinated for safety and sanitary reasons.

Track your pet with technology

There may come a time when your dog or cat gets loose, escapes the back yard, or roams too far from home. A lost pet is scary for both pet and owner. One of the best ways to help your pet return safely is microchipping. A radio chip with a unique identifying number is inserted under the skin. When a scanner passes over the chip, the number can be used to connect your dog or cat back to you. Vets, rescue shelters, and local animal control departments will check for a microchip whenever a stray pet is found.

Microchipping comes at a cost, but it works. Collars with tags can come loose, but chips will not separate from your pet and are much more reliable. Your adopted pet might come with a microchip already present. Be sure to ask the shelter for the hosting information. One of your first priorities should be to update the owner data to reflect your information. This can be done online. If your pet is not chipped (confirm this with your vet or shelter), look for low-cost microchipping events in your local area. This can save you money getting a new chip.

Best wishes for a happy life

Congratulations! You've saved a life and enriched your own at the same time. Owning a pet is a lifetime commitment. Pay attention to your pet. Show them daily love and affection, and they will recipricate ten fold. Your journey is just beginning. Make it a productive, healthy, and loving one.

Peace, Love, and Paws.

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