Resolutions To Kick Start a Healthy Pet Year

To kick off 2012, putting your best paw forward, here are some suggestions to keep your pets healthy and happy.

If at all possible, brush their teeth at least three times a week, but daily is best.  We’re talking about dogs and cats here; brushing a hamster’s teeth could be hazardous to everyone. Here is a video: Cornell U on brushing cats’ teeth.

Walk your dogs instead of just turning them out in the yard – I’m a big offender on this one.

Transport pets safely. It may not be a legal requirement – yet—but belting pets into cars is safest for them and all the other occupants of a vehicle. If belts aren’t possible, consider a divider to separate them from people while the car is moving. Do not let dogs hang their heads out the windows.

In cars, cats should be in carriers, how you get them in there is, unfortunately, your problem.

Brush fur at least once a week, although daily is best. Matts are painful and hard to remove once the knots are in there. Loose hair is often ingested, causing hairballs and other digestive problems, not to mention what it does to the couch.

Wash your hands or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after handling any pet, but be particularly cautious with exotic pets such as reptiles and hedgehogs. These species are more likely than most housepets to transmit infectious diseases. Exotics don’t belong in households with young children.

Teach your cat, dog, rabbit, bird to have its feet handled and trim the nails — or get it done professionally – regularly. For most housepets, nail trims every few months is sufficient, but it will be a tussle if that’s the only time you touch their feet.

According to the Chinese zodiac, the Year of the Rabbit is about to end. As we enter the new Year of the Dragon, make some resolutions to keep your pets healthy and remember what I said about exotic pets and young children. Rabbits are definitely a healthier choice than dragons.

Dr. Fiona Gilchrist

Hillcrest Animal Hospital

December 2011