Basic Pet Health Care Timelines


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.

 

Dental Cleaning

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.

 

Nail Trimming

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.

 

Microchip Update

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 Yet, many pet owners tend to “chip and forget,” so the information included in the chip becomes outdated and inaccurate.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

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.



29 thoughts on “Basic Pet Health Care Timelines

  1. Deanna Jones

    Thanks for posting this! I never know when I’m supposed to take my kitten to the vet, so having this pet care timeline will help me know when I need to do certain things to take care of her. Knowing to brush my kitten’s teeth at least 2-3 times a week seems like it should fit in my schedule. I’ll make note of that so that she’ll have clean and healthy teeth.

    Reply
  2. Paige Smith

    I have never really thought about implanting a microchip into my pet. This could be really good though, if my pet were lost or ran away. This article has some really unique ideas I have never thought about.

    Reply
  3. Sarah Hadley

    Thanks for sharing these tips and I would like to add one more thing that is pet insurance. You must have pet insurance plans to cover dogs and cats for injuries, illnesses & wellness care.

    Reply
  4. Raylin Sutter

    I have been considering having my pets get animal vaccinations. I have a dog and a cat. I live far out in the country and so I never saw it to be too necessary and something that I would do if I lived in the city. However, we are about to take them on a road trip with us and I am wondering if I should have it done. Are there any risks that I need to know about beforehand? I am very interested in keeping my pets as healthy as possible.

    Reply
  5. Joel

    Thanks for the tip about trimming my dog’s nails! I had no idea that would be an issue. I got a dog about 2 years ago and we’ve never bothered to check his nails. I’m going to do that now. Thanks again!

    Reply
    1. PetFirst Post author

      Joel: If you’re uncomfortable doing this yourself, many pet groomers and nearly all vet offices will clip your dog’s nails, and it’s normally very affordable. Plus, they probably get a little treat afterwards. 🙂

      Reply
  6. Cohen Jacobson

    So the chip doesn’t bother the pet over time and doesn’t get infected or anything like that? I’ve been hearing about it a lot lately and I”m curious to know more. It sounds really helpful, and I just want to make sure to doesn’t bring discomfort to our dog and cats. Thanks for the really informative post.

    Reply
    1. PetFirst Post author

      We’ve never had complications with a microchip, but you should speak with your vet about any possibilities in order to make an informed decision. The only discomfort should be the prick of the shot, as microchipping is just like getting a vaccination.

      Reply
  7. Eliza Cranston

    Thank you for the tips on making sure that my pet is healthy! I’ll be sure to take my dog to the veterinarian for teeth cleanings and vaccinations. Do you know which vaccinations are necessary for dogs?

    Reply
  8. Dave Ward

    There are pet dentists? I can see why they should have their teeth cleaned, though. Our dog has some pretty bad breath. He’s overdue to have his teeth cleaned. We’ll have to schedule that soon, I guess.

    Reply
  9. Kyle Ross

    These are some great tips, and I appreciate your advice to create a yearly timeline with your vet for vaccinations. My wife and I just got a puppy, and we want him to be as healthy as he can be. We’ll definitely consult a vet and find out what vaccinations he should get throughout the year and when he should receive them. Thanks for the great post!

    Reply
  10. Jordan Leavitt

    I really like how you said that, “Both cats and dogs need regular dental cleanings to avoid painful abscesses, gingivitis, and other bothersome dental problems.” I had no idea that you had to take pets to the dentist on a regular basis. I just got a dog for the first time and have no experience taking care of one. Thanks for the health advice on pets because it has answered a lot of my questions.

    Reply
  11. Dee Francis

    Your tip to microchip my pet seems really important for me to know about. I adopted a cat thinking that it would be okay to let her out every once in a while. It seems like there’s a chance that she could go missing, so having her microchipped with her information will help ensure that she’ll be returned to me if she’s found. Thanks for the tips!

    Reply
  12. Liz Lyons

    I did not realize that dental cleaning was such an important part of keeping my pet healthy. I have always believed if you give them a dental bone, then dogs would be ok. However I might start to brush their teeth as well.

    Reply
  13. Jason Strong

    My wife and I just got a new dog and we love him so much. We are trying to find the best ways to properly take care of him, but we had no idea where to start. This helped a ton and we are going to work hard and make sure that he has good teeth and that his vaccinations are done.

    Reply
    1. PetFirst Post author

      It sounds like he is in good hands! Good dental health can help prevent other issues from arising, and annual vaccinations are critical too.

      Reply
  14. Charles Kemp

    I know that vaccinations are pretty crucial. Is there some sort of packaged deal that you can get? I would love to have some help on that because I know how important each vaccination is. I would love to just get them all done at the same time. I don’t know if that is wise or not but it would be easier for me.

    Reply
    1. PetFirst Post author

      Charles, we always recommend talking to your veterinarian and see what they recommend. We recently published blogs about the vaccination schedule for dogs and cats. Please feel free to check them out to see the timeline for young puppies and kittens vs. older pets getting annual boosters.

      Dog vaccination schedule

      Cat Vaccination Schedule

      Reply
  15. Kyler Brown

    My wife and I recently bought a dog for our daughters, which basically puts me in the position of taking care of it. I really appreciated this post because I’m kind of clueless when it comes to pet care. I particularly liked you advice about vaccinations, which will definitely be something that I need to discuss with our vet. Thanks!

    Reply
  16. Jeffrey Goodman

    Vaccinations are so important for your pets good health. I highly recommend getting vaccinations for your pets to protect them from diseases. I got my cat vaccinated and my cat hasn’t been sick once.

    Reply
  17. Kenneth Gladman

    I think it can be easy to overlook your pet’s dental health, I am glad you brought it up. Along with the cleanings we get our dog teeth cleaning treats. There is no treating the breath, but the teeth can be healthy!

    Reply
  18. David Hawkins

    I really like that you have vaccinations on this list. Getting your pet vaccinated is an absolute must in my opinion. I would feel really terrible if my cat got sick and it was preventable by getting a simple shot. Thanks for the awesome tips and advice!

    Reply
  19. Hazel Adams

    I agree that it is important to have dental cleaning for pets. I think that it helps with their overall health. I think that you should do this at least once a year.

    Reply
  20. April Cook

    We just got a dog and want to do all we can to keep him healthy and safe. Will the vaccinations required be different depending on location? We split our time between two homes so we want to figure out if we will need different ones for each area. Thanks for all this great information!

    Reply
  21. Jorge McMillan

    I agree whole heartily that pets bring so much joy and unconditional love into our lives. Even though they require a lot of maintenance to ensure that they live long, like you mentioned, it is work the up keep and work to make that happen. I’m grateful for articles like this that point out how we can do that and the steps that need to be taken to keep our pets healthy.

    Reply
  22. Lillian Schaeffer

    These are some great tips, and I appreciate your advice to work with a vet to come up with a yearly timeline for vaccinations. My husband and I are going to be getting our first dog, and we want to make sure we take good care of him. We’ll definitely find a good vet, and we’ll work with them to come up with a timeline we can follow for vaccinations and things like that. Thanks for the great post!

    Reply

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