Written by: Cally Worden
Having a pet to care for offers the ideal opportunity to teach your kids to treat animals with respect. Keeping your pet clean and healthy is big part of that responsibility. Whether your pet is traditional dog, cat, rabbit or guinea pig, or something more exotic, its care routine should be a natural part of family life. Looking after your pet not only reduces the risk of them becoming ill, but also helps to protect the humans in your family from exposure to germs and bugs which animals can carry.
Know your Pet
The care needs of each pet vary, even within pet types – a long-haired dog will require more grooming than a short-haired one, for example. Take the time to learn about your pet’s needs, and develop a health-check routine that ensures you have all bases covered.
Washing and grooming hairy pets can be fun, and offers the perfect chance to give your animal a careful physical check that will highlight any lumps, bumps, or foreign bodies that may need attention from the vet. Any claws, teeth, ears and crevices should all be checked regularly and cleaned/trimmed if necessary.
For smaller or less common pets that require less handling, such as mice, stick insects, fish, or reptiles, keeping their enclosures clean and fresh is vital. Ensure that their home environment provides them with everything they need to play, sleep, and hide comfortably, according to their needs. Be vigilant to any changes in their behaviour, and always respond – your pet can’t speak to tell you when he is poorly.
Pets have nutritional needs just like humans, and choosing the best quality food you can afford will go a long way towards limiting any risk of health problems for them. Good food not only helps your pet to grow, but keeps their immune system in good form, making it easier for them to fight off infections. Resist the temptation to indulge your pet too much too – excessive quantities of the wrong foodstuffs can quickly make your pet overweight, or lacking in the vital nutrients it needs to stay healthy.
Get to the Vet
Sadly there is no NHS for animals, and vet bills can make a dent in your finances. Nevertheless, you have chosen to take on the responsibility of a pet, and that includes getting regular check-ups. For certain animals such as dogs and cats, it is important to get an annual health MOT and vital vaccinations to offer protection from bacterial nasties. Avoiding these can lead to an emergency visit being required, which would cost you more, not to mention the trauma and distress for your pet. As the saying goes – Prevention is better than cure.
Pets don’t ask to become part of our families – we invite them into our lives. So do the right thing by your extra family member, and accord him the respect he deserves.