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The ABCs Of Pet Care

A Speed Course On Keeping Your Pals Healthy

Can it really be back-to-school time? How about a simple list of things you can do to keep your pets happy and healthy – a little schooling on pet care if you will. 

1. See your veterinarian regularly for preventive care, as well as when you have noticed a problem that has lingered longer than 24 hours. Proper preventive care protects against the multitude of common diseases just waiting for a host. Treating illness earlier rather than later improves the odds for a full recovery and/or better management of common chronic diseases for your pet’s comfort. Additionally, your veterinarian is your educated resource in the face of much misinformation on the internet.

2. Vaccinate your pets. Rabies vaccinations are required by law for dogs, cats and ferrets. Other vaccinations truly do protect against the microbial world just waiting for an opportunity to cause illness. The cost of vaccinations is pennies in comparison to the cost of treating preventable diseases.

3. Spay/neuter your pets – prevent unwanted pregnancies, undesirable behaviors and the risk of loss or injury from a pet following their romantic hankerings.

4. Get pet insurance – start a plan when your pet is a puppy or kitten. Insurance helps to cover wellness care but also helps give you more pet care dollars when faced with potentially costly illnesses or accidents.

5. Teeth really are important. Start early and brush daily. Get regular dental assessments and cleanings as needed. Good oral health and health care truly can add years to your pet’s life, keep them comfortable and make it much more pleasant when they breathe in your face.

6. Train your dog – every puppy needs to be well socialized and every dog benefits from training. This means proper classes with a trainer and continuing work at home every day. (Even cats can be trained).

7. Keep your cat indoors. There are so many risks in our urban neighborhoods, such as injury or illness from contact with feral cats, urban wildlife or being hit by a car.

8. Learn how to trim your pet’s nails or claws. Start when they’re young and calmly, efficiently trim nails regularly as a best practice in pet care.

9. Always use a leash on your dog outdoors, preferably a regular leash and not a retractable leash. Having a leash on your pet keeps them under control and safe.

10. Avoid the dog park. Dogs parks seem like great idea, but often are filled with poorly socialized, unvaccinated dogs. Check it out a few times at different times of the day before using.

11. Manage your pet’s diet. Control the volume fed by properly measuring, and keep them on a high-quality non-grain free diet. Keeping your pet at a healthy weight has a huge impact on their long-term health. Ask your veterinarian for nutritional information and review your diet choice with them.

Dr. Margot Vahrenwald is the owner of Park Hill Veterinary Medical Center at 2255 Oneida St. For more information, visit

Resources For Happy Pet Owners

1. WSAVA – World Small Animal Veterinary Association – Nutrition guidelines for selecting pet foods and Savvy guidelines for feeding dogs and cats.




2. Books for your shelf or e-reader

a. Dogs for Dummies by Gina Spadafori

b. Cats for Dummies by Gina Spadafori

c. Perfect Puppy in 7 Days: How to Start Your Puppy Off Right by Sophia A. Yin

d. The Cat Whisperer: Why Cats Do What They Do – and How to Get Them to Do What You Want by Mieshelle Nagelschneider

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