A few days ago I discussed ‘Choosing the right pet for your lifestyle and environment’ in Part 1 of this series, now let’s go on to Part 2.

Now as I said before, there are not rules, just some good, solid basic guidelines for your pet’s health and happiness!

Provide your pet with proper health care. Choose a good veterinarian, have your pet vaccinated, and monitor your pet’s health regularly.

  • Keep Your Pet Healthy – Once you choose a pet it becomes your responsibility to see that the animal gets proper health care. Granted, that can entail time and money, but it is an essential part of keeping a pet. Generally, proper health care for your pet will involve the following:
  • Choosing a good veterinarian – Some people find veterinarians in the Yellow pages. Others choose a vet by his/her proximity to their homes. While location is an important factor, it doesn’t guarantee that a vet will provide your pet with the best treatment. The best way to find a vet is through word-of-mouth referrals from satisfied customers. Ask your friends, neighbors, relatives and co-workers for referrals. You also can get referrals through veterinary associations. For example, the American Veterinary Medical Association can refer you to state associations which can in turn help you find a qualified vet.
  • Having your pet vaccinated – Making sure a dog or cat gets the vaccinations it needs is one of a pet owner’s most important responsibilities. Even animals that seldom go outside need to be vaccinated. For example, dogs need to be vaccinated for canine distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis (‘kennel cough’), parainfluenza, and parvovirus. These immunizations are usually given as one vaccine called DHLP-P. Vaccines given separately include rabies, heartworms, and Lyme Disease.Ask your vet about the required vaccinations for your dog or cat. It’s important that you are familiar with your pet’s immunization history and needs.
  • Giving your pet regular ‘home exams’ – You can, on a weekly basis, examine your pet for any signs of illness or disease. This will enable you to detect problems early enough to begin effective treatment. The best time to conduct such an examination is when you are grooming your pet. Check your pet’s eyes, ears, mouth, nose, abdominal area, legs and paws, and tail end. Also observe its eating, drinking, and elimination habits. Note anything that could indicate a potential health problem. Consult your vet for proper treatment.
  • Being on guard against allergies and pests – Like humans, dogs and cats can suffer from various allergies. Add to that, the discomfort of pests, such as fleas, and an animal’s life can be pretty uncomfortable. Pay attention to your pet’s skin. If it’s red or scaly, or if your pet displays extreme itchiness, it could be the result of an allergic reaction. Depending on the cause, you should remove the source of the allergy from the pet’s diet or environment. Allergy shots or therapy with drugs also may be required.
  • Fleas can be a particularly nasty problem. These minute, bloodsucking insects are the cause of the most common skin disease in dogs and cats. And they can be difficult to get rid of. The key is to detect signs of infestation early enough to begin a safe and effective control program. When grooming your pet, run your hands through the animal’s coat from head to tail. Look for fleas and ‘flea dirt.’ a combination of flea feces and dried blood. Using a special flea comb (found at most pet stores) can help you in your flea detection.
  • If you discover a flea infestation on your pet, you can try one of several possible treatments. Flea shampoos are usually effective in killing the pests that are on your pet, but they don’t prevent a new infestation. Flea collars and tags can be effective at repelling fleas but may not kill them. Flea powders effectively kill fleas and prevent new infestations. However, such powders are messy to use and don’t adhere well to animals with short coats. Ask you vet about the best treatment for your pet.
  • You also can use a commercial ‘fogger‘ to eliminate adult fleas in your house. Be sure to follow the product’s instructions carefully. Regular vacuuming can help get rid of fleas that are in the egg stage. And washing your pet’s bedding in hot water on a weekly basis also can reduce the risk of flea infestation.
  • Treating your pet for worms – Symptoms of worms include runny nose and eyes, enlarged belly, unusual appetite, diarrhea, loss of weight, and a dull coat. If you notice any of these signs, consult your veterinarian.
  • A puppy should be taken to a veterinarian for a ‘check-up’ when it is about six weeks old. The vet will examine your pet and treat it for worms. Worming can be repeated at eight and twelve weeks, but should be done under the supervision of your vet.

Keep an eye out got Part 3 coming soon. 🙂

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