As a pet owner, you’ve taken an unspoken oath to ensure your pet receives the care necessary to remain happy and healthy. From loving your furry pal from the first moment you welcome them home, to holding their paw during their final moments, you’ve dedicated yourself to caring for your beloved companion. During Responsible Pet Owners Month, we’d like to celebrate you as a devoted pet caretaker who stops at nothing to provide high quality care for their four-legged friend. 

As a veterinary emergency clinic and referral center, we understand that keeping your pet healthy can be difficult, despite your best efforts. Illness and injury are part of pet ownership, but through preventive care, you can help your furry pal ward off medical issues. Follow these five practices of responsible pet ownership to help keep your pet healthy.

#1: Protect your pet with health insurance from the beginning

Before bringing home a new pet, you likely make a list of all the necessary supplies—food and water bowls, collar and leash, toys and treats, food and bedding. But what about checking out pet health insurance providers? Although you may not consider pet insurance as part of your furry pal’s wellness care, that financial safety net is essential for unexpected emergency illnesses and accidents. Pet insurance can cover a wide range of care options, including wellness care, dental cleanings, prescriptions, specialist treatment, and holistic care. You may choose to stick with a simple accident and illness plan, or a more comprehensive option that covers preventive care. Whatever you decide, ensure you sign your pet up for coverage the first day you welcome them home. You don’t want your puppy or kitten having an illness before you have insurance that then becomes a non-covered, pre-existing condition, so enroll your pet immediately for prompt, full coverage.

#2: Stay on top of your pet’s dental care

Periodontal issues affect much more than your pet’s mouth. Plaque and tartar accumulation and oral bacteria buildup create a host of dental problems. The bacteria can slip into your pet’s bloodstream through inflamed gum tissue, infiltrating the heart and kidneys and causing systemic disease. Since the majority of pets have some dental disease by age 3, starting a dental health regimen when your pet is young is essential for overall health. Combining toothbrushing and other at-home care methods with professional oral exams and dental cleanings provides the best care for your furry pal’s mouth.

#3: Manage your pet’s diet and exercise to maintain a healthy weight

More than half the U.S. pet population is overweight or obese, thanks to poor diets and inadequate exercise. Battle your pet’s bulge by understanding how many calories they require each day, and then make sticking to that number your goal. Use an online pet calorie calculator, or contact your family veterinarian for nutrition advice. 

Don’t forget the other half of the healthy weight equation—regular exercise. If you and your pet are stuck in a slump, change up your exercise routine by exploring different paths, participating in new activities, and playing with interactive toys. Incorporate at least 15 to 30 minutes of exercise into your daily routine, with more for high-energy pets.  

#4: Invest time and effort in training your pet

Behavior issues are among the top reasons pets are surrendered to animal shelters, yet many problems can be remedied through proper training, patience, and effort. Start teaching your pet basic obedience commands and good manners from day one, and add socialization activities to your four-legged friend’s training plan for a well-rounded regimen. Teaching your pet the ins and outs of acceptable behavior, and to correctly interact with their environment, will go a long way toward a happy, well-adjusted pet.

#5: Ensure your pet remains healthy through regular wellness care

Team up with your primary care veterinarian to ensure your furry pal remains in tip-top shape. Regular wellness care is much more than a round of vaccines, and your best resource for maintaining your pet’s good health. Preventive care includes screening tests, parasite prevention, physical exams, and advice from a pet care professional—your veterinarian.  

An added bonus as a responsible pet owner is always having your pet’s emergency veterinarian’s number handy in case of illness or injury. If your furry pal runs afoul of trouble, give our Pet Emergency Clinic and Referral Center team a call.