Ask any new pet owners what they wish for their new buddy and “good health” or “long life” will probably be at the top. And it’s important to remember that health is about more than just diet and activity but encompasses your pet’s overall wellbeing and happiness.
Here are five ways to give your new cat or dog the best possible start in life!
- Be very hands on. Watch a mama cat or dog with her litter and you’ll see how much touch and interaction goes on among them all. There’s pushing, poking, cleaning, playing and cuddling, so keep that in mind as you raise your new pet. Help him integrate gradually into your home environment (whether quiet or noisy) and be sure to provide plenty of petting, holding and grooming. Let other people besides you give food and treats. Animals who are handled more when young are much easier to care for throughout their lives, and much more enjoyable to be around!
- Have the right tools on hand. Life with a pet can be a lot less messy and troublesome when you have the right tools on hand. For dogs, essentials like a comfortable bed (we love Muttropolis!), puddle pads, breed-appropriate toys, and a worry-free pair of nail clippers are essential. Speaking of the latter, I highly recommend the Zen Clipper because you can adjust it to clip just the amount of nail you want, completely avoiding any pain or bleeding. Also great to invest in early on is a sturdy carrier for travel and trips to the vet. For cats, you’ll thank yourself a thousand times over by getting a self-cleaning litterbox for indoor-only pets.
- Healthy foods from the start. Cats and dogs are carnivores so aim for a diet that’s high in quality proteins, and not loaded with grains, preservatives and fillers. The old saying “you are what you eat” applies to animals as well as people, and pets on a premium diet will enjoy longer life and more vibrant health, as well as added benefits like brighter eyes and a good-looking coat. For pets with food sensitivities or allergies, check out a nutritious additive like Brutus Bone Broth.
- Know what to expect. Based on breed, age, etc. Kittens are really great at some things (learning to use the litterbox, for instance) and really exasperating when it comes to other (climbing up screens and furniture). You will save yourself so much frustration (and household damage) by learning what to expect in terms of your cat’s behavior, and what provisions to put in place. Any reliable cat care book or website you can consult will be worth the read.
- Supervise young children. There’s an exception to the above tip about socialization: little children. Far too many parents are lax about this, choosing to be reactive rather than proactive (i.e. “No, Emily, don’t yank the kitty’s tail.”) Sadly, I’ve even seen YouTube videos showing a parent who lets a child terrorize a pet, and then berate or hit the pet when it lashes out in anger! The better approach is to keep very young children away from your new pet unless you are there to fully supervise the interaction (i.e. catch your child before he grabs the tail). Your pets will thank you greatly for this more compassionate approach rather than allowing them to be a punching bag or teaching tool.
Tell me how YOU keep your pets happy and healthy in a comment below!