I am often asked how pet owners can make their fur children happier and more comfortable. You would think my answer involves more toys or various forms of pampering, but it's actually the simple, basic things that mean the most to our pets.
These items may seem like common sense to you, but let them serve as little reminders or perhaps new tidbits of useful information. Please share this list with your human children so that they, too, can become responsible pet owners one day.
Fur Children Basics:
1. Fresh water daily. This doesn't mean just topping off the water bowl (a lot of animals complain to me about that). They want a clean bowl and fresh water at least twice a day. Many cats also love drinking from cups or sink faucets. Indulge them; they will be so grateful!
2. Food that isn't chock full of by-products, sugar and ingredients that no one can pronounce. The first and second ingredients should both be a type of meat. Special treats should make up only 10% of your pet's diet. Stick with food that's appropriate for his/her age, energy level and health needs. Your pet will live much longer.
3. A collar that fits. If you can't get any fingers underneath the collar, it's too tight and is probably choking them. If you can get your whole hand under the collar, it's too loose and may slip off.
4. Spay/neuter your pet. There are an estimated 8 million animals in shelters with no homes, and it's up to us to help eliminate this crisis! Save lives by spaying/neutering and adopting from your local shelter.
5. Adequate exercise and play time. Dogs especially love to go for walks with their owners. Even if you have a huge, fenced-in backyard they can run around in, take them for a 30-minute walk every day. For cats, engage them with toys, laser pointers and cuddle time. This is so important to them!
6. Refuse to purchase an animal from a breeder or a pet store. Puppy mills and inhumane conditions SHOULD BE ILLEGAL!
7. Microchip, vaccinate and keep up with any medications. Many local shelters have reduced-cost services, so check them out before you go to a regular vet's office. The cost of your pet's microchip may go toward feeding a homeless animal. What's not to love about that?
8. NEVER leave your pet in a hot car. And if it's too hot to walk on the pavement with your bare feet, chances are good that your dog's paws will get burned. If you're too hot or too cold while outside, your pet is, too.
9. If your animal is domesticated, keep him or her inside and out of any nasty weather. How would you like to sit outside during a blizzard or a torrential downpour? They don't like it, either!
10. If you see a stray animal roaming the streets or see one that is being abused or neglected, please call your local Animal Care and Control agency. They will investigate the situation and help the animal if possible.
11. Instead of assuming that your cat or dog is being a brat by peeing in the house, rule out any medical issues first. He or she may be in real pain and in need of veterinary care. If it's a behavioral issue, try explaining what you'd like your pet to do by using mental pictures. Animals communicate telepathically, so the more you can show them images of what you're saying, the more they'll understand. Invest in an animal trainer to help with any behavioral issues.
12. The more love and respect you show your fur children, the more you'll receive from them. Animals are very sensitive to energy in the home, so if your family's energy is stressful, chaotic, unsettling or even violent, the animal will react accordingly. Try to provide a peaceful environment where they can feel safe and loved.