veterinarian_dogTaking care of your first pet can be a bit overwhelming. They always seem to be finding trouble around the house. While some of these can be dismissed as a part of having a pet, a few precautions can make life easier for both you and your loved one. So here goes:

1. Quarterly Physical Exams are Vital

Just like humans, your pet can get heart problems, develop arthritis, or have a toothache. The best way to prevent such problems or  catch them early is to see your veterinarian every three months.

These vet visits should touch on nutrition and weight control, as well as cover recommended vaccinations, parasite control, dental exam, and health screenings. 
2. Prevent Parasites
Fleas are the most common external parasite that can plague pets, and they can lead to irritated skin, hair loss, hot spots, and infection. Fleas can also introduce other parasites into your cat or dog. All it takes is for your pet to swallow one flea, and it can to end up with tapeworms, the most common internal parasite affecting dogs and cats. What’s worse is these tapeworms can spread to humans. Year-round prevention is the key, with regular flea and intestinal parasite control.
Because some parasite medications made for dogs can be fatal to cats, talk to your vet about keeping your precious pets worm-free, flea-free — and safe.
3. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Many dogs and cats in India are overweight or obese. And just like people, obesity in pets comes with health risks that include diabetes, arthritis, and cancer. Overfeeding is the leading cause of obesity, and keeping our pets trim can add years to their lives.
Because pets need far fewer calories than most of us think — as little as 185-370 a day for a small, inactive dog; just 240-350 calories daily for a 4 kilogram  cat — talk to your vet, who can make feeding suggestions based on your pet’s age, weight, and lifestyle.

4. Mutts may be healthier than pure breeds
 Thinking of getting another dog or cat? Before you pass over a mixed breed because you think pure breeds are healthier, consider this: A mutt may cost you less in vet bills in the long run. Veterinarians have long suspected that mixed breeds have a leg up when it comes to health. When you breed for certain physical characteristics, it often increases the weaknesses of that breed. Saint Bernards, for instance, are known for their giant heads and small back ends. But those traits actually set them up for severe hip dysplasia. However, when a dog or cat has a more varied genetic make-up, it’s less likely to develop health problems that commonly affect those breeds.
5. Get Regular Vaccinations

For optimal health, pets need regular vaccinations against common ills, such as rabies, distemper, feline leukemia, and canine hepatitis.

How often your dog or cat needs to be immunized depends on their age, lifestyle, health, and risks, so talk to your vet about the vaccinations that make sense for your pet.

6. Spay/Neuter Your Pets
Eight million to 10 million pets end up in Indian shelters every year. Some are lost, some have been abandoned, and most are homeless.
Here’s an easy way to avoid adding to that number — spay and neuter your cats and dogs. It’s a procedure that can be performed as early as five months of age.
Spaying and neutering doesn’t just cut down on the number of unwanted pets; it has other substantial benefits for your pet. Studies show it also lowers the risk of certain cancers, and reduces a pet’s risk of getting lost by decreasing the tendency to roam.
7. Provide an Enriched Environment
An enriched environment is another key to the long-term health and welfare of your canine and feline friends.
 Pets need mental stimulation, say the pros, which may mean daily walks for your pooch, and scratching posts, window perches, and toys for your cat. It means play time with you, which not only keeps your pet’s muscles toned and boredom at bay, it also strengthens your bond with your four-footed companions.
8. Pets Need Dental Care, Too
Just like you, your pet can suffer from gum disease, tooth loss, and tooth pain. And just like you, regular brushing and oral cleanings help keep your pet’s teeth strong and healthy.
Dental disease is one of the most common preventable illnesses in pets, yet many people never even look in their pet’s mouths.
It’s estimated 80% of dogs and 70% cats show signs of dental disease by age three, leading to abscesses, loose teeth, and chronic pain. In addition to regular dental cleanings by your vet, periodontal disease can be avoided by proper dental care by owners. Owner care includes brushing, oral rinses, and dental treats. Your vet is a good source of information about the same.
9. Never Give Pets People Medication
Medicines made for humans can kill your pet. NSAIDs like ibuprofen  and antipyretics like acetaminophen are  the most common pet poisoning culprits, but antidepressants, decongestants and muscle relaxants are just a few of the human drugs that pose health risks to pets. Human drugs can cause kidney damage, seizures, and cardiac arrest in a dog or cat.
If you suspect your pet has consumed your medication — or anything toxic, be sure to immediately check with your vet, and if it is during evening or weekend hours when your regular veterinary clinic may be closed, check for a local 24-hour emergency veterinary clinic and take your pet there for an examination. Many metropolitan areas have these clinics.

10. Proper Restraint in a Vehicle
You buckle up for safety when you’re in the car, shouldn’t your pet? Unrestrained pets in a car are a distraction to the driver, and can put driver and pet at risk for serious injury.To keep pets safe in transit:
  •  Never allow pets to travel in the front seat, where they’re at risk of severe injury or death.
  •  Don’t let dogs ride with their head out the window. This practice puts them at risk of being thrown from the vehicle in the event of an accident.
  •  To keep pets safe, confine cats to carriers, and then secure the carrier with a seatbelt. For dogs, there’s the option of a special harness attached to a seat belt, or a well-secured kennel.