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8 Ways to Be a Proactive Pet Parent

By Colleen Williams
January 15, 2015 • 3 min. read
Cat grooming

Grooming is an important part of your pet’s preventative healthcare. Image via Commercial Creative Commons on Flickr.

We all know the best care is preventative – an apple a day keeps the doctors away for humans. But what about pets? Luckily there is some preventative care all pet parents can do to keep their furry family members healthy.

1. Brush your pet’s teeth!

While it may seem daunting to wrangle your pet into accepting a toothbrushing, it’s very important to their overall wellbeing. Your pet’s dental health can impact more than just their chompers.

Gum disease, cavities and abscesses are all very common yet painful conditions both dogs and cats can develop. They can also have far-reaching effects, affecting your pet’s ability to eat, chew and swallow. Without the proper nutrition, your pet may become fatigued or show signs of depression.

2. Practice good grooming.

Not only will your pet be camera-ready, you’ll also be aware of any skin, fur, paw or claw abnormalities. Whether your pet is low or high maintenance, grooming your pet is a great way for a quick physical check.

If you take Fido or Fluffy to a groomer, request a once-over. Many groomers will mention any unusual bumps, lumps or otherwise as they see them, but it can’t hurt to ask. For the more DIY pet parents, start with a thorough brushing of your pet, noticing if there are any sensitive areas on the skin or fur. When you clip your pet’s nails, inspect for any paw scrapes, split nails, or plants like foxtails.

3. Get moving with your pet – daily.

Keep up your New Year’s Resolutions for your pet – and yourself! Talk your pooch for a quick stroll every day. Dog exercise needs vary by breed, age and any medical conditions, but all pets can benefit from a daily walk around the block.

However, puppies and some older dogs may not be able to tolerate walking on hard surfaces like pavement. Invest in some dog booties to protect your pet’s paws – especially in winter – and consult your vet if you’re unsure.

4. Watch out for weight!

Pet obesity is becoming a serious issue – over half of all U.S. cats and dogs are overweight. Too much food and not enough exercise for your pet are the main contributors to weight gain.

Follow the dietary guidelines for your pet’s specific age and activity level as recommended by the label on your pet food or your veterinarian. If your pet has any specific dietary needs or medical conditions, consult your vet before making any changes to portion sizes or type of food.

Dog ball

Spend some quality time with your pet, whether it’s playing fetch or teaching Fido a new trick. Image via Commercial Creative Commons on Flickr.

5. Play with your pet’s brain, too.

Keeping your cat or dog healthy and happy involves more than just their body! Spend some quality time with your pet, whether it’s playing fetch, teaching Fido a new trick, or busting out the catnip.

This is especially important if you’re a working pet parent who can’t bring your buddy to the office. Pets get lonely too!

6. Pet-proof your home.

Most injuries to pets are accidents, usually ingesting something not so pet-friendly. Antifreeze, electrical wiring, blinds cords, toxic plants, socks, cleaning supplies, and a crazy long list of off-limits foods are all hazardous to cats and dogs alike.

Once a month, go through your house, pet-proofing and removing any of the hazards above. Automotive and cleaning chemicals should be stored out of paws’ reach or in cabinets with child locks. Hang up all cords that are within easy reach of your pet to prevent strangulation.

Lastly, do research on pet-friendly plants before bringing anything home. And beware – your puppy or kitten may see potted plants as an exotic new litter box.

7. Say yes to a yearly checkup!

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 90% of pet parents with dogs and 75% with cats agree that routine checkups are important. However, actions speak louder than words – many pet parents don’t actually get these checkups, citing issues like affordability.

Just because your pet isn’t visibly ill or injured doesn’t mean they don’t need to get checked out! The key to prevention is stopping a condition before it develops or worsens. A vet exam fee is a small price to pay compared to full-blown treatment for issues like cancer, diabetes or intestinal obstructions.

8. Get pet insurance. 

We may be a little biased, being a pet insurance provider, but we truly believe in the peace of mind it gives pet parents. Covering most non-preexisting conditions, a pet insurance policy ensures you’ll never have to make hard decisions about your pet’s health.

When the choice is between your furry family member and your finances, we all know which one we’d choose – but sometimes the choice isn’t so easy. No pet parent should have to make that call, which is why we’re firm believers in the power of pet insurance.

colleen williams
By Colleen Williams

Over the past decade, Colleen has written about health, wellness, beauty, and even pets for The New York Times, The Cut, Refinery29, xoVain, Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, and Seattle Met Magazine, as well as many beauty brands. She has a BFA in Art History from the University of New Mexico and an AAS in Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design in New York.

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