Pets are an intrinsic joy and bring an incredible amount of unconditional love to our lives. However, they also require consistent maintenance to ensure that they live a long, healthy, and happy life with us. Whether you’re just bringing home a new puppy or kitten, or you’re a seasoned pet-parent, keeping up with everything your pet needs can be a daunting task, so let’s take a look at some of the basic pet care you’ll need to perform for your pet throughout the year.
Let’s face it: dogs and cats have terrible breath. That’s never going to go away. Both cats and dogs need regular dental cleanings to avoid painful abscesses, gingivitis, and other bothersome dental problems. Ideally, you should brush your dog’s teeth daily, but perhaps your schedule doesn’t allow for this, especially if your pup doesn’t make it easy for you. In that case, try to brush his teeth at least 2-3 times a week, and provide cleansing dental chews on the days you don’t brush. Cats and dogs should have a thorough dental cleaning at the vet at least once per year.
Without regular nail trimming, dogs’ nails can grow too long and cause pain and discomfort when walking. Untrimmed dew claws can actually grow into your dog’s skin and then requires surgery to remove. Trim your pup’s nails every two weeks for “lazier” dogs, and every 2-3 weeks for active or working dogs whose nails are naturally kept at bay with regular wear-and-tear. Cats will generally keep their nails worn to a manageable length if they regularly use a scratching post (hopefully not the couch, your legs, other pets), but check them every two weeks and clip back if needed. Clipping your cat’s claws will reduce the amount of damage they do to your furniture and skin if you end up on the receiving end of a random attack.
Microchipping your pet is important, especially if he or she roams the neighborhood or otherwise spends lots of time outdoors. Yet, many pet owners tend to “chip and forget,” so the information included in the chip becomes outdated and inaccurate. This can lead to complications if the pet goes missing, as a shelter or rescue may not know where to return the pet. Check your pet’s microchip information annually and update with any changes in address or contact information so your pet can be easily returned to you if lost.
Vaccinations are crucial to your pet’s health. They prevent deadly and painful diseases, and many municipalities require pets to be registered and up-to-date on vaccinations at all times. Different inoculations are required at different time intervals; check with your veterinarian to see what shots your pet has had and what’s due, and work together to create a yearly timeline for vaccinations.