Pet Care for Your Dog or Cat – Keeping Them Healthy and Happy
Routine pet care is crucial to keeping our furkids in tip top shape right from the young puppy and kitten stage. Much like people go for dental check ups and take our vitamins to keep us healthy, keeping on top of your pet’s medical wellbeing helps ensure a healthy and happy life.
Maintaining quality pet care on a regular basis is like cleaning the house. Do it regularly, and it doesn’t pile up and become overwhelming. Ignore it, and you’ll eventually end up spending a few days sorting through it all.
So what exactly should you be doing how often? Pet care involves all sorts of things: vaccinations, tick and flea prevention, grooming, diet, microchipping, organising holiday care, check ups, pet insurance provisions, and more. Some of this needs to be done very regularly, and some of it semi-regularly.
Here’s the routine pet care that you should commit to for that new addition to your family. Or the old one!
Routine pet care
Instead of just bringing your pet in for veterinary care when something is wrong, scheduling (and keeping) regular wellness visits can actually reduce the chances of an emergency happening in the first place. Obviously these exams won’t eliminate all emergencies, but they can reduce the odds considerably.
Pet wellness care isn’t just about vaccinations (which are very important) – the true value is in the early detection of major illnesses or conditions that could put your pet’s health and safety at risk. Illnesses that, if left undetected, could result in emergency care, high-cost life-saving treatments, or worse…
1. Flea and tick prevention
Fleas aren’t just a summer problem! Even in winter, buildings and houses are often kept warm. That’s great news for us and our paw-tners in crime, but equally good news for those pesky fleas. They love heat.
Although flea eggs (often found in carpets and furnishings) can hatch and irritate your pet in winter, in summer the problem worsens. And they’ll irritate you too. Fleas know no bounds between human and pet.
Other than them being a bit gross, fleas can cause significant health problems. Firstly, there’s the itching, scratching, and skin conditions associated. But did you know they can also cause anaemia in pets? It might surprise you that flea anaemia can even be fatal.
Ticks love Australia, so tick prevention is a really important part of routine care here. The most common ticks found include the brown dog tick, paralysis tick, cattle tick, and bush tick. Tick-borne diseases can be very serious and even fatal to your pet. Dogs and cats can contract a variety of illnesses ranging from dermatitis to babesiosis to tick paralysis.
If your pets routinely venture into areas with long grass or bushland, exercise extra caution when it comes to checking for ticks. If you do find a tick, take it off and seek veterinary attention.
Double up on routine care to save time
There are loads of tick and flea treatments available nowadays (often as all-in-one treatments). They come as tablets or liquids; take your pick. The drops to be placed on the back of the neck are especially easy to administer. Adding such treatments to your routine pet care is key to stopping these pet pests.
You’ll probably find you’re administering a treatment every three months or so. When doing so, be very careful to give the correct dose for the size of your pet.
Make sure your dogs and cats are on an appropriate flea and tick treatment schedule for their region. Best talk to your vet about what’s appropriate for your fur baby’s individual circumstances.
2. Dental care
Regular dental care isn’t just for humans. Routine pet care should definitely include dental health and check ups.
Most pet owners don’t do this, but plaque and tartar build up can cause problems. What problems, you ask? Well, you know that stinky dog or cat breath? It might be caused by bad dental hygiene!
Pets can also develop gingivitis, tooth decay, gum disease and even abscesses. Gum diseases can lead to infections with wide reaching effects from liver problems to heart murmurs.
Pet owners should clean their pets’ teeth at least once per day with a toothbrush and pet-friendly toothbrush. In addition, dogs and cats should have their teeth cleaned professionally at least annually (but sometimes as often as every 3-6 months, depending on your pet).
It’s important to start this early in life, to prevent avoidable dental problems from cropping up. Your vet can guide you on when to start these treatments, as well as how often you need to do them. Plus, we have advice on how to clean your dog’s teeth and how to keep those cat teeth clean and sparkling too.
PD Insurance offers dental cover as part of our Deluxe Plan, which is our top tier dog insurance plan and cat insurance plan. Here’s an article explaining what you’ll normally be able to claim for with pet dental insurance.
A pet vaccination schedule is what most people think of when routine pet care is mentioned. They’re essential for puppies, kitten, dogs and cats. Even horses need annual vaccines.
There are many conditions pets and farm animals need to be protected against. For example, kennel cough. Kennel cough is a big one for dogs and cat flu is a big one for cats.
When puppies and kittens are born they usually get some protection from infections via drinking milk from their mothers. As they get older though, they need vaccinations to help them along.
A schedule for routine pet care vaccinations
Puppies and kittens will need more regular trips to the vet when they’re young to make sure they’re fully vaccinated. The schedule is normally two to three vaccines given at three to four week intervals initially.
As they grow, you still need to keep this up regularly. They’ll need a booster a year after initial vaccination. From there onwards, your vet can help you plan your dog vaccination schedule and cat vaccination schedule.
The frequency of vaccinations will depend on a lot of factors. For instance, your holiday pet care situation might dictate vaccine schedule. Or, your pet’s lifestyle might. This would all have to be considered in conjunction with how long any given vaccine offers protection for your pet. Read more about the different types of vaccinations and suggested schedules here.
Phew, that’s a lot of things to think about… Managing your vaccine schedule is just another reason to book a yearly check up with your vet! Dr Melanie Bowden says that taking your pet for an annual check up to proactively manage their health is one of the biggest steps you can take to help protect vet mental health too.
Worms are a common problem for cat and dog owners. Both these domestic pets are prone to picking up these parasites and there are usually no obvious symptoms.
It’s important that you worm your pet regularly as these parasites live in the intestinal tract and can make your pet very sick if left untreated. The most common types of worms are roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, lungworms and whipworms.
The parasites can be picked up quite easily by your new puppy or kitten, and it can take a bit of time for you to notice them. Sometimes, the initial symptoms can be very hard to spot so worms may go unnoticed even if your pet is suffering from them.
If worms are left untreated, your pet can get very sick. To be sure, the best way to handle worms is to keep on top of treatment as part of your routine pet care.
Puppies and kittens normally need worming every three weeks until they are six months old. After six months old, they can usually be treated every three months. If your cat regularly catches mice or birds though, you might need to worm them more often.
Most wormers nowadays can treat both roundworms and tapeworms at once. You’ll find them in topical (applied at the back of the neck usually) and oral (given to your pet to eat) forms. Your vet will be able to advise you on the best choice for your pet.
5. General grooming and maintenance
Your dogs and cats need a bit of beauty care too! But not just for vanity. Though, could you blame their beautiful faces for wanting a bit of sprucing up from time to time? Some grooming might be for aesthetics, but basic grooming is usually necessary for your routine pet care.
Your pet’s nails for instance, need to be regularly inspected. Some pets have lifestyles which require minimal trimming and clipping of their nails. For example, if you have indoor cats (your cat-scratched couch is probably cringing right now), dogs who don’t go outside too often, or older pets, they might need to have their nails trimmed. Smaller dogs also tend to be more likely to need their nails trimmed than larger dogs.
Keeping nails or claws short and well-maintained will keep your pet comfortable.
It’s also good to keep an eye on your pet’s coat condition. Both cats and longer haired dogs usually enjoy a good brushing, which will stop them from getting matted hair that can cause skin problems. Some dogs or cats might need professional grooming to keep them looking at their most beautiful. Schnauzers, for instance, look amazing after their specialised cuts!
Unlike cats, dogs can have regular baths, which is also a good time to check them over thoroughly for any sores or lumps and bumps. Tempted to bath your cat? Find out why we suggest you don’t give your cat a bath most of the time. And while you’re at it, speaking of beauty care, check out our 10 ways to pamper your cat.
6. Diet and exercise
Having a healthy pet is the main aim of any pet care routine. Insurance can help protect them, but you should also be proactive about your pet’s health. Diet and exercise forms a major part of pet health, and as the pet parent, you have almost full control over it.
Pet obesity is on the rise in Australia. Overfeeding and under-exercising can make your pet overweight or obese. This can cause all kinds of health issues, from diabetes to arthritis to heart disease.
The solution? Better feeding and exercise regimes. As a start, check out our dog exercise requirements by breed, exercising your dog without walking, and how much exercise a dog needs. Of course, each pet is an individual. It boils down to doing the right amount and type of exercise for your cat or dog. Some will need more physical stimulation than others, dependent on breed, age, temperament, health, and other factors. But just as for humans, some exercise and movement is generally good for most animals.
Then, find an appropriate and nutritionally balanced diet for your pet by working in conjunction with your vet. All pets have individual nutrition needs, dependent on breed, age, size, allergies, and overall lifestyle. You might opt for something like raw food, or a quality kibble. Both are fine, but make sure you’ve done your research and know the reasons for feeding a specific diet.
And remember, treats are part of your pet’s calorie count. So if you often sneak them some tuna, peanut butter, or chicken, know this could be contributing to that extra weight. Think of treats the way you think of chocolate or chips for yourself – fine for occasional indulgence, spoiling, and enjoyment. But not a staple part of their diet.
Non-routine wellness and healthcare
Aside from regular wellness checks and routine pet care, what else can you do to keep your pet healthy and happy? One of the main ones is simply providing a healthy and enriching environment for them.
Animals want mental and physical stimulation, safety, and love. Keeping those canine and feline friends safe means providing them with the ideal environment. All in all this means things like playtime with their humans, toys and other outlets for energy, fair and ethical treatment of your pets, attention and praise, and comfortable spaces for them to relax and rest.
Emergency pet care
Of course, there’s also the question of emergency or non-routine medical care. This is for situations when you need to visit the vet for something not related to routine care. Like a broken bone, ingestion, or an accident, for instance.
Having access to a good vet is key here. You should know where the nearest vet is, as well as be aware of any 24 hour vets in case of an emergency. Often, getting your pet prompt care and treatment is what saves their lives. Especially in cases like bloat, Parvovirus, poisoning, heatstroke in pets and more.
Making sure you have a contingency plan in place for quick treatment if needed is the responsible thing to do.
Affording pet care
Pet care can be expensive, no doubt about it. Your pet’s health is important, but veterinary bills can often run into the many thousands. There are a few options to ensure you can afford pet care. Being up to date on routine care helps limit the chances of needing expensive treatment further down the line, although doesn’t eliminate that risk entirely.
Weighing up pet insurance vs savings for pet care bills? It’s an individual decision. You could consider setting aside a bank account or credit card solely for pet bills. Just make sure you know upfront how much you can afford and keep in mind your pet might need emergency treatment long before you’ve saved up a good buffer.
Of course, you don’t have to save up so you can afford pet care bills outright. The other option is a pet insurance policy.
Dog insurance and cat insurance for bills
Pet insurance doesn’t just have to be for accidents, illnesses and other emergencies.
Our comprehensive pet insurance offers you the option to take out cover for things like non-routine vet visits, allergies and even dental treatment. That way, you can stay on top of your pet’s health proactively. You’ll rest easy knowing you’re always up to date on your pet’s routine care.
And you’ll also find comfort in knowing that your furbaby is covered if you need emergency treatment for an illness or injury too. Why not get a quick PD Insurance quote now?