According to the National Pet Owners Survey, nearly 62 percent of all U.S. households owned a pet in 2009 – up from 56 percent about 20 years ago. The most popular are dogs, cats and birds; in numbers, that means nearly 94 million cats, 77.5 million dogs and 15 million birds.
Whether dog or cat, beloved companions through everyday life make us laugh every day and provide comfort when needed, in turn, we want only the best for dogs, cats and co.
The following tips show what Dog and Cat Owners can do to keep their pets happy and healthy for a long time.
Shortcut To Useful Tips
- 1 TIPS FOR A HEALTHY PET LIFE
- 1.1 Healthy Nutrition
- 1.2 A Lot Of Movement For Your Pet
- 1.3 Mental Challenges for your Dog and Cat!
- 1.4 REGULAR VACCINATIONS
- 1.5 CASTRATION
- 1.6 PREVENTION AGAINST PARASITES
- 1.7 ENSURE A HEALTHY WEIGHT FOR YOUR DOG OR CAT
- 1.8 CARE FOR THE PET’S TEETH
- 1.9 SKIN & FUR PROTECTION
- 1.10 STORE YOUR PET SAFELY IN THE CAR
- 1.11 THE RIGHT HYGIENE FOR YOUR DOGS AND CATS
- 1.12 PREVENT ACCIDENTS & INJURIES
- 1.13 PROTECT YOUR DOG AND YOUR CAT FROM TOXIC SUBSTANCES
- 1.14 PROTECT YOUR PETS FROM EXCESSIVE HEAT
- 2 Some Regular Routines To Ensure Your Pet’s Health
- 3 LAST BUT NOT LEAST
TIPS FOR A HEALTHY PET LIFE
A species-appropriate and natural diet is one of the most important factors for a long and healthy pet life. Unfortunately, like humans, many dogs and cats suffer from so-called diseases of civilization due to poor nutrition. Often, industrially produced feeds contain excessive sugar, grains, flavorings, etc., which can lead to diabetes, tooth decay, allergies, chronic digestive disorders and even cancer.
When feeding with ready-made food, you should make sure that the food has a high protein content but does not contain only muscle meat, as this is too one-sided for the animal in the long run and can lead to an excess of phosphorus, which is harmful to health. Good food, therefore, contains not only muscle meat but also offal, tendons and joints, which provide the animal with minerals such as calcium. After all, in the wild, your pet would also eat its prey animal with skin and hair.
Also, a high grain or vegetable content in the food sounds healthy from a human point of view but is not necessary for your pet. However, the food should have a small proportion of wild herbs and grasses, as your animal would also ingest these through the stomachs of its prey in nature.
Especially for cats, a permanent dry food diet is not advisable, as it will damage your pet’s kidneys in the long run. Kidney failure is a common cause of death in domestic cats. Furthermore, the dry food deprives the cat of fluid in the long run.
A deficiency that the cat can not compensate for even by increased water intake. In addition to kidney problems, feeding dry food can also lead to bladder stones and, because of hidden sugar, tooth decay and bad breath in your pet.
If you have enough time, consider preparing the food for your dog and cat yourself. So you know best what is in your pets’ food and can provide enough variety.
For older animals, you should adapt your four-legged friend’s diet to the needs of their age. For example, food supplements containing mussels and algae serve as lubricants for joints. But special diets for kidneys, heart and liver can increase the quality of life of your older pet again.
A Lot Of Movement For Your Pet
Exercise is healthy for humans and promotes well-being – physical activity also releases happiness hormones in pets, strengthens the immune system, stimulates circulation and trains the muscles.
Especially for indoor cats, which have little exercise, it is essential to be animated to exercise. We recommend keeping cats in the apartment, keeping at least in pairs, because the cat always has a playmate with whom it can dash through the house or the apartment.
It will never be boring, and the cats will have fun with the movement. In addition, you should try to play with your cats every day. Cats are playful creatures by nature and have a fundamental need to chase prey or feather dusters, balls and toy mice.
If your cat does not show enthusiasm for play, this may indicate health problems, as an animal in pain or lacking energy is understandably less animated to play extensively. In this case, you should make an appointment for a health examination.
Every dog needs exercise. How much and how often depends on age and breed. Young and small dogs (shoulder height up to 35 cm) should get between 15 and 30 minutes of exercise several times a day. It would help if you alternated between strenuous phases challenging the animal and calmer phases for rest. For large adult dogs, twice daily exercise at a calm pace of one hour each time and about 15 minutes of more brisk play is sufficient.
Dogs bred for performance, such as hunting dogs, greyhounds or huskies, have a particular urge to exercise. These dogs need to be exercised at least twice a day for half an hour of brisk play, balancing dog sport or swimming sessions, and the obligatory walking rounds.
On the other hand, you should not overdo it with exercise for bulky dogs with short noses, such as bulldogs or pugs. In this case, the walks should be shorter, and other types of physical exertion, such as search games, should be used.
In general, one should pay attention to variety in the movement. Don’t do the same rounds over and over again, but go for a bike ride, then another leashed walk through the forest, and the next time a trip to the dog meadow – this way, you can be sure that your dog’s urge to move is satisfied and the happiness hormones are just bubbling away.
Mental Challenges for your Dog and Cat!
For your dog or cat to remain agile and mentally young into old age, you should take care of the animal’s mental and physical fitness. It would help if you tried to play with your pet daily and challenge it with tricky thinking tasks. The earlier mental training is started, the better.
You can use the play instinct very well with cats to encourage them to exercise and perform mentally. For example, hide small treats in various places in the apartment or house so the cat can go on a treasure hunt according to its nose.
Also, food-toys, are helpful. Here food is hidden in the toy, and the cat must solve small riddles to get to the rewards. This toy also does not have to be expensive but can be easily made from shoe boxes or toilet paper rolls.
Even if it is more difficult than with dogs, with patience, you can teach your cat a trick or two, which will keep the house cat mentally challenged and fit. For example, with the help of rewards, you can teach the cat to come to you on command, retrieve the toy mouse, or give you its paw. The use of clickers has also proven successful in cat training.
Teaching commands to dogs is also considered a form of mental training. Of course, the owner has it easier here than cats because dogs learn more easily through imitation. Retrieving, nose work, and skill games are also part of the repertoire to keep the dog mentally fit.
An example of mental training is a simple search game that works without tools. You hide a treat in one hand and let the dog sniff out which of the two hands in front of his nose the treat is. The difficulty of the search game can be increased by hiding the dog cookies in different places in the house and garden or boxes and letting the dog search. There are also puzzle games where dogs have to move flaps or balls to get to the reward.
There is no limit to your creativity and ingenuity when it comes to games that keep the minds of dogs and cats fit. Just invent your games that will bring joy to your darling, challenge him and keep him mentally fit.
The most important preventive measure to protect your dog or cat from various infectious diseases is vaccinations. Depending on the species, there are different pathogens or diseases from which you should protect your pet at all times by vaccination.
These vaccinations against these diseases, which are life-threatening for your pet or transmissible to humans, are called core vaccinations or compulsory vaccinations. In dogs, these core vaccinations are distemper, leptospirosis, parvovirosis, rabies and the contagious liver infection hepatitis contagiosa canis.
Basic immunization against these diseases should be given to your four-legged family member as early as puppyhood. The vaccination recommendation is as follows:
- 8th week of life: distemper, HCC, leptospirosis and parvoviruses.
- 12th week of life: distemper, HCC, leptospirosis, parvovirosis and rabies
- 16th week of life: distemper, HCC, parvovirosis
- 15th month of life: distemper, HCC, leptospirosis and parvovirosis
- According to the vaccine manufacturer: rabies repeat vaccinations.
After basic immunization has been completed, vaccinations must be boostered regularly to provide full vaccine protection and maintain built-up immunity. Vaccination against distemper HCC, leptospirosis and parvovirosis should be repeated annually. Rabies vaccination is renewed every three years.
In the cat, the vaccinations against the feline rhinotracheitis virus and feline epidemic disease are mandatory vaccinations. Rabies vaccination is not required for indoor cats. However, if your cat is an outdoor cat or you are planning a stay abroad, rabies vaccination is mandatory:
Basic immunization for kittens also begins at eight weeks of age. The recommended vaccination interval is:
- 8th week of life: feline rhinotracheitis and feline epidemic pneumonia (RCP).
- 12th week of life: feline rhinotracheitis, feline epidemic pneumonia and rabies in outdoor cats.
- 16th week of life: Feline rhinotracheitis and feline epidemic pneumonia (RCP).
- Fifteen months of age: Feline rhinotracheitis and feline epidemic pneumonia (RCP).
- According to the vaccine manufacturer: rabies repeat vaccinations.
After basic immunization has been completed, vaccination against cat rhinitis and feline epidemic disease is refreshed once a year. Rabies vaccination for outdoor cats is usually renewed every three years.
In addition to the core vaccinations, there are other vaccinations, such as against kennel cough or Lyme disease in dogs or against the feline leukemia virus in cats, administered only at increased risk of infection. Our veterinarians will be happy to advise you whether additional elective vaccinations are recommended for your pet.
Neutering your dog or cat prevents unwanted offspring and has several positive effects on your pet’s health. Spaying drastically reduces the risk of mammary tumors and malignant changes in the mammary gland in both female dogs and cats. The risk of uterine infections and cancer is also eliminated if the uterus is removed.
Neutering the male dog prevents him from developing testicular cancer and lowers the risk of prostate cancer. Also, instinctive behavior, such as straying due to bitches in heat in the neighborhood, is eliminated, and with it, the risk of an accident when the dog goes love-blind on busy roads.
Also, neutered male cats go less often on extended forays, which reduces the risk of road death and infection with infectious diseases such as leukosis or the so-called feline AIDS, and also reduces the frequency of fights with other stray male cats. In general, neutering decreases the aggression potential of your male cat. Another positive side effect is that, in most cases, the marking behavior with urine stops in neutered male cats.
According to the Austrian Animal Welfare Act, neutering is mandatory for outdoor cats to avoid uncontrolled reproduction and, thus, animal suffering and overcrowded animal shelters.
PREVENTION AGAINST PARASITES
Parasites like worms and fleas are always annoying and unpleasant. However, a parasite infestation can lead to gross damage in animals with weak immune systems, such as young, sick, and old dogs and cats.
If the animal’s health balance is disturbed, the pests multiply rapidly, torment the host animal and can transmit serious diseases. A distinction is made between ecto- or external parasites and endo- or internal parasites:
Ectoparasites in dogs and cats include, for example, ticks, fleas, mites and hair lice. Preventive measures, such as spot-on preparations or flea collars, help against infestations of these parasites.
Endoparasites in dogs and cats include roundworms, tapeworms and giardia. There is no prophylaxis against internal parasites, but regular worming treatments can minimize the risk of worm infestation.
To protect your pet from annoying pests, we recommend you regularly take precautionary measures against parasites.
ENSURE A HEALTHY WEIGHT FOR YOUR DOG OR CAT
Not only does the quality of life decline in overweight dogs and cats, but a number of weight-related diseases that can lead to a shortened life expectancy go hand in hand with too many kilos on the scales.
Overweight pets are more susceptible to heart and respiratory diseases and have an increased risk of developing diabetes mellitus. In addition, the extra strain on tendons, ligaments and joints often results in osteoarthritis and reduced mobility. Obese pets also frequently suffer from skin conditions and cannot reach itchy areas.
You can tell your pet is suffering from obesity when the animal’s ribs are hidden under a layer of fat and can only be felt with heavy pressure. In addition, the neck and shoulder area is thick and bulging, the belly is sagging, and pronounced fat deposits can also be seen at the base of the tail and in the groin area. In animals with severe obesity, the animal appears almost roly-poly with no discernible waistline.
CARE FOR THE PET’S TEETH
If your pet has diseased teeth, it can lead to a number of problems that affect the well-being and also life expectancy of your pet. Tooth decay, tartar and periodontal disease can cause severe pain to the dog or cat, which also negatively affects food intake.
Because of the painful teeth, the food is hardly chewed, less food is consumed, or the food intake is completely refused, which leads to severe emaciation. In addition, there is the risk that with inflamed teeth, bacteria are distributed throughout the body via the bloodstream and can thus attack internal organs. The heart and kidneys are especially susceptible to such infections.
To keep your pets’ teeth healthy, it is recommended to avoid sugary foods and occasionally feed them chewy animal products, such as tendons, cartilage, dried pig ears or chews for dogs. The pets enjoy the chewing fun and, at the same time, scrape bacterial deposits from their teeth with the hard feeds. Other positive effects are that the nibbles strengthen your four-legged friend’s chewing muscles and improve blood circulation to the gums.
If you get your pet used to it at an early age, you can also perform dental care with a toothbrush and special toothpaste for dogs or cats. The toothpaste is also available with meat flavor and is therefore well accepted by many animals.
To keep an eye on the health of your cat’s or dog’s teeth, you should have the animal’s dentition examined by a veterinarian at least once a year. This way, the vet can remove tartar and gum pockets that provide breeding grounds for bacteria or pull teeth with gross damage under anesthesia to allow the animal to eat again without pain.
SKIN & FUR PROTECTION
The skin is not only your pet’s largest organ but also an important protective coat and indicator of how healthy your dog or cat is. If the coat looks flaky and dull, it is a sign that the animal is sick, has a deficiency, or suffers from stress or an allergy.
Triggers for skin diseases can also be food allergies, hormonal problems, as well as autoimmune diseases, in which the animal’s own antibodies attack the skin.
In young animals or animals with a weakened immune system, skin fungi are particularly common. These are often found on the face or ears of dogs and cats. Circular bald patches are also signs of a fungal infection. Here, caution is also required for you as the owner because the skin fungus can be transmitted to humans.
If you notice changes in your dog’s or cat’s skin or scaly and dull fur, make an appointment with us so that we can take a close look at your pet’s skin and initiate appropriate treatment measures.
STORE YOUR PET SAFELY IN THE CAR
There are always situations where you need to transport your pet in your car – for example, the trip to the vet, dog school or on vacation. You should secure your pet well during the car ride for the safety of your cat or dog, but also for your own safety and that of other road users.
To make it safe for your pet to ride in the car, there are several options depending on the size and temperament of your pet:
- You can transport large dogs in the car’s trunk if you drive a station wagon. Here we recommend a divider or net, which will not only prevent your dog from jumping over the back seat and irritating the driver but also prevent the dog from being thrown through the driver’s cabin in the event of an emergency stop or accident, injuring itself or passengers in the car.
- A transport box is recommended for cats and small dogs, preventing the animal from moving freely in the vehicle. In any case, the transport box should be secured by a belt or other measures. Otherwise, it could become a projectile in accidents.
- If you do not have a spacious trunk or your dog does not feel comfortable in a transport box, you can also strap the animal in the back seat with the help of its own dog safety belt, which is attached to the chest harness of the animal. The dog seat belt comes in different sizes. However, you have to ensure that the pet is not strapped too tightly, as this can lead to injuries.
- Dog car seats are also a more comfortable alternative for your four-legged friend. They offer the animal more free space than a transport box but still limit its range of motion for safety.
Please be aware that car rides can be very stressful for your four-legged friend. Avoid long and frequent car trips if your dog or cat is sensitive. For unavoidable long car rides, make sure to take regular breaks. Calm down and reward your pet during the drive to reduce the animal’s stress.
THE RIGHT HYGIENE FOR YOUR DOGS AND CATS
You should also pay attention to hygiene for pets. Make sure your four-legged companion is fragrant and clean. You will do something good for your nose and prevent many problems, such as matted hair, skin irritations, infections and parasite infestations.
Especially for long-haired dogs and cats, you should provide regular hair care. Especially in the hot summer months, dense fur can torment the animal.
But not only the animal itself should be kept clean. Dirty food bowls and their surroundings, sleeping areas and litter boxes are often stomping grounds for bacteria.
It would be best if you were especially regular and meticulous about keeping these hotspots clean. Therefore, regularly clean and disinfect objects with which your pet has a lot of contacts.
PREVENT ACCIDENTS & INJURIES
Numerous injury and accident hazards await pets that can threaten the animal’s health and life. For cats, in particular, falls from great heights pose a danger. House cats are skilled climbers, but sometimes they overestimate their balance, slip on wet ground or are startled by a noise while climbing.
Even though the famous saying is that cats always land on all fours, a fall from a window or balcony railing can be fatal. Therefore, it would be best if you secured windows and balconies with measures such as a cat net. You should also keep a small pet emergency pharmacy on hand just in case.
A real death trap for cats are tilted windows. Cats stuck in a tilted window and not discovered immediately die in agony because their blood circulation is interrupted. Even animals discovered in time are often paraplegic and must be euthanized. Never leave your cat unattended near a tilted window. Securing tilted windows with special grills from specialty stores is also possible.
Another risk of injury for dogs and cats is swallowing foreign objects. For example, cats often swallow threads, and the like, and dogs, in turn, chew toys, stones and bone fragments. Therefore, when buying toys, ensure they are not easily bitten.
Also, it would be best never to throw sticks at your dog. The stick may get wedged in the ground due to the throw, and the dog stakes itself with the wood due to the running motion. These injuries are severe and avoidable by using toys designed for this purpose.
Road traffic is also a risk that is often difficult to avoid, especially for outdoor cats. Make sure your cat is chipped and registered so the animal rescue or a veterinarian can contact you in the event of an accident. The same is true for dogs, of course. Male dogs, in particular, like to take flight if females are in heat in the neighborhood. In such cases, neutering is especially advisable to reduce the risk of accidents on the road.
ANNUAL PREVENTIVE CHECK-UPS FOR CATS AND DOGS
Timely prevention is better than a later cure. Therefore, we recommend an annual veterinary preventive check-up to identify health risks in good time and take appropriate measures for a healthy pet life at an early stage.
Depending on the breed, we recommend starting preventive examinations for dogs from the age of five to seven and cats from the age of seven.
During the screening, your pet will undergo a clinical examination and blood work will be analyzed. X-rays, CT scans or ultrasounds are also performed in suspected cases.
Schedule a preventive care appointment for your cat or dog every year to identify risks early and prevent chronic diseases.
PROTECT YOUR DOG AND YOUR CAT FROM TOXIC SUBSTANCES
Our kitchens and medicine cabinets hide many toxic substances from dogs and cats. Unfortunately, many things that taste good to us or are good in case of illness can have deadly consequences for pets.
The best-known example is chocolate. It and other cocoa products can lead to death in dogs and cats because the animals cannot process the ingredient theobromine.
Poisoning symptoms appear two to twelve hours after consumption in the form of vomiting, diarrhea, tremors and eventually heart failure. Caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, energy drinks or cola, can cause the same symptoms and consequences.
Onions, garlic and chives also risk poisoning dogs and cats. A sulfur compound in onion plants destroys red blood cells in dogs and cats even after consuming small amounts. The poisoning is recognizable by vomiting and diarrhea and later by the loss of appetite, weakness, increased respiratory and heart rate, pale mucous membranes and urine colored red-brown by the disintegrated blood cells.
Birch Sugar (Xylitol) is becoming increasingly popular because it does not cause tooth decay. However, it causes a strong insulin release in dogs, even in minimal quantities, which can lead to a life-threatening drop in blood sugar levels. In addition, birch sugar can severely damage the dog’s liver – to the point of liver failure.
Likewise, avocados, grapes and raisins can be toxic to four-legged friends. Non-toxic but incompatible for cats and dogs are dairy products. Since our pets are lactose intolerant, eating them can cause digestive problems, such as constipation and diarrhea. You should also never feed raw pork (especially from wild boar) as it may contain Aujeszky’s virus. The same goes for raw chicken meat because of the risk of infection with salmonella.
Medications pose another risk of poisoning for pets. A preparation that helps humans against pain, fever, inflammation or other complaints can quickly lead to symptoms of poisoning or even death in dogs and cats. For example, acetylsalicylic acid in aspirin is highly toxic to cats. Therefore, do not self-medicate your pet under any circumstances, but contact a veterinarian in case of complaints. Also, keep medications safely stored in the home so your pet cannot reach and eat them.
If you observe your pet consuming a toxic substance or showing signs of poisoning, such as vomiting, tremors, weakness, excessive salivation, or pinpoint hemorrhages on mucous membranes, do not hesitate and seek.
PROTECT YOUR PETS FROM EXCESSIVE HEAT
We all love summer, but our pets get hot under their fur when the temperature rises. The heat strains the animal’s circulatory system and can have fatal consequences in extreme situations.
Both dogs and cats need sufficient drinking water available during the hot months. You should make sure that the drinking water bowl is always well-filled. You can encourage cats to drink more with a drinking fountain. If you are out and about with your dog, you should take a water bottle with you and always offer the dog cool water to drink.
Large portions of food are difficult to digest when it is very hot. It is better to provide small portions and feed them in the early morning or the evening when it is cooler. In the summer, the stomach torsion risk increases in large dogs after large meals. You should leave wet food out for a short time during the hotter weeks, as it spoils quickly and flies lay their eggs in it.
Give your cat access to the bathroom to cool off, as this is often the coolest place in the apartment or house due to the tiles. If you want to cool down by airing, please ensure you never leave your cat unattended with the window open. The animal could become trapped in the window and die in agony.
For animals with light-colored fur and sensitive skin, apply sunscreen to sensitive areas such as the ears and nose to prevent the animal from getting a painful sunburn. In the case of animals with long, dense fur, you should trim the fur before the hot season.
When the temperature is very high, dogs should only be walked in the morning and evening hours. In addition, you should avoid doing sports with your dog, such as running next to your bike, during this time.
Under no circumstances may animals be left in the car. A closed vehicle can very quickly become a death trap when the outside temperatures are high. Dogs only have a few sweat glands and cool down mainly by panting. This is impossible due to the locked vehicle’s hot air, and irreparable organ damage and cardiac arrest can occur quickly. If you see a dog locked in a vehicle, do not hesitate to call the police. Only she can open someone else’s vehicle – you could save the animal’s life by doing so.
Signs of overheating in dogs are heavy panting and apathy. If the dog also begins to stagger, gets a glazed look, vomits, and the tongue turns dark, it is a sign that it has suffered heat stroke and is in acute danger of death.
Immediately place the animal in the shade, cool its legs first, and then the rest of the body with wet towels. Give the animal lukewarm, never ice-cold, water to drink and go to the nearest veterinarian as soon as possible.
Some Regular Routines To Ensure Your Pet’s Health
They say caring for a pet is like caring for your family. This stays true for pet owners because pets today are no longer just pets, they are actually and considered to be part of the family.
It is unfortunate to note that there are even some pet owners who just have a pet to accompany them at home. This is quite typical for all of those singles who have come to independently leave home to pursue their careers and only come to visit home sporadically.
Owning a pet is a means to maturity in some way, as one learns to be accountable for someone else other than himself even when that someone is a dog or a cat. Caring for another being is definitely a step to adulthood and sensibility.
Accordingly, the pet owner acts like a mother or a father to his or her pet. This means taking care of the pet’s needs and making sure that he is well and healthy. Here are two of the regular things one should do and incorporate in his or her routine to ensure that his or her pet is in the pink of health.
- Give a regular bath. Good grooming is essential especially when it comes to pets. If you leave your pet lounging around all day long being lazy and unkempt, do not be surprised to find fleas roaming around in his fur in a matter of days. Thus, a bath or (if your pet is that afraid of the water) at least a grooming session is in order and should be done regularly.
With the cases of pollution and quick spread of disease and infections these days, it is required that regular grooming must be done. Not sporadic, not every time you remember but regular. Make it a part of your routine. Remember a clean pet is a healthy pet.
- Give him regular meals. Just as you would need to eat three times a day, your pet also needs his regular dose of rations to keep him nourished and well energized during the day. Feed him the right kind of pet food. Make sure to not serve dog food to a cat and vice versa.
And do not think that because they are all pet food, they are the same because these foods have certain ingredients that are mainly made especially for a dog or a cat.
Make sure to serve the right amount. If you serve too little, you may leave your pet still hungry and starving. If you serve too much, you may well be wasting money on pet food that gets to waste. Serve your pet’s meals on time. As you would want to eat on time your dog would appreciate it the same way just as much.
If your pet is well feed and is eating healthily then he will be far away from getting pet infections and ailments. Some pet food may be a little expensive but think of how much you will be saving from visits to the veterinarian with such a healthy pet.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST
Show your dog or cat their love every day. Cuddling and caresses increase the animal’s well-being and, thus, its life expectancy. Your pet will thank you and return the love at every opportunity with a loyal heart.