Often when people get a new pet, it is an emotional reaction. Maybe it is a pet in need,
or just one that is irresistibly cute. But the truth is, being a good pet owner is a big commitment, not just in time and love, but financially as well.
Failure to understand what a pet will cost can lead to a breakdown in the human to pet bond, and the pet can end up homeless.
The initial cost of the pet is just the beginning. High quality, well balanced dog and cat food is expensive. Housing, bedding, grooming supplies, and toys can add up quickly.
It’s important to be conscious of the need for routine veterinary medical care including vaccinations, and prevention of parasites like fleas, ticks, and heartworms.
Puppies and kittens require a series of vaccinations, given over several visits, to build their immunity. The cost of spaying or neutering to prevent homeless animals can’t be overlooked. A mature pet might be more economical than a puppy or kitten.
Before deciding on a pet, talk to your veterinarian about what your new pet will need. Understanding the cost of being a good pet owner is important. It will help you make
a wise decision that you and your new pet can live with.
House training a new dog can be a challenge, and poor house training is a leading cause of pets being surrendered to shelters.
Dogs have a natural desire to keep their den clean, and will typically not eliminate in their sleeping area, when given the chance. This is the concept behind crate training.
Giving your dog a crate to stay in while unsupervised inside the home can keep them out of trouble, and facilitate house training. It should be a happy place for the dog with comfy bedding and toys. It should feel like the dog’s sanctuary when things are hectic in the house.
Dogs need plenty of exercise outdoors, and the crate should be used only to provide rest times. Care must be taken to insure that the dog gets walked every few hours to allow for healthy restroom habits. Young dogs need more frequent walks as their bladders and habits are still developing. Dogs should always be walked when they first wake up, as soon as they come out of the crate, after they eat, and before bedtime.
Crate training can be wonderful for dogs and people, but it can easily be abused if treated as a containment device without understanding the exercise and health needs of the dog.
Your veterinarian can be a great resource with training issues to help your dog be a cherished family member.
Dental health in our pets can be easily overlooked, allowing serious dental disease to develop.
In young animals, looking for misaligned and retained teeth that can lead to problems is important. As animals age, cleaning away build up and maintaining periodontal health becomes the focus.
By the time we notice the smell of bad breath or halitosis in our pets, dental disease is already significant.
Just like in humans, regular brushing of our pets’ teeth is ideal, but can be difficult. Starting this habit with young pets is a great idea and very effective. If not removed, dental plaque hardens to tartar within 24-48 hours and starts to build on the teeth.
Our pets can hide serious and painful dental disease that can only be found with a thorough dental exam, including x-rays. Anesthesia is usually necessary in most pets to allow a complete examination and cleaning to remove tartar and calculus from the teeth, smooth the surface of the enamel, and address the crucial area below the gumline.
Your veterinarian can help your pet maintain a healthy mouth and nice breath that you will notice every time they greet you.
Ticks cause very serious diseases in dogs, cats, and people. Tick control is important not only for our pets, but for us as well.
Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Ehrlichiosis are some of the diseases that ticks spread. Ticks transmit Bobcat fever, or Cytauxzoonosis, to cats, which is a fatal disease found mostly in Eastern Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri.
Ticks are hard to manage in our companion animals because, unlike fleas, they don’t reproduce on the dog or the cat. They have a life cycle stage in the environment on other animals that we have no control over. Tick control products, available as topical solutions or collars, work well but their effectiveness is reduced over time.
Physically checking your pet for ticks at the end of the day is important in tick infested areas. Ticks need to be attached for a few hours to transmit disease, so it is important to remove any attached ticks quickly. By checking your pet for ticks, particularly in the ears, around the neck, and between the toes, you can prevent disease before it starts.
Talk with your veterinarian about tick control to prevent ticks and all the diseases they carry.
Heartworms are very common in our area and can cause fatal disease in our pets.
In dogs, these large spaghetti-like worms live inside the heart, and lead to progressive heart disease. Adult heartworms produce their tiny larvae that circulate through the bloodstream to the surface of the dog’s skin. Mosquitoes transfer heartworms by ingesting the larvae with their blood meal, and then injecting them into the next animal they bite.
When the larvae are transferred to cats they migrate through the lungs and produce a serious asthma like condition. In cats, even one adult worm in the heart can be fatal. Heartworms can even cause disease in people when their immune systems aren’t functioning normally.
All it takes is a single bite from a mosquito for heartworms to enter the body and start their damage. Preventative medications for both dogs and cats are available from your veterinarian. These preventatives are given monthly to eliminate the larva before they develop. Yearly blood testing is done to ensure the worms are not present.
Protect your pet from the devastation of this disease by working with your veterinarian to prevent heartworms.