Pet adoption boomed during COVID-19. Almost a million Canadians have adopted a pet since the start of the pandemic, and in the U.S., pet adoption rates skyrocketed at animal shelters in 2020. That means, there are a lot of new pet parents out there with pet adoption questions. To help them provide the best care for their new furry family members, here’s a client education checklist (below) to share with new pet parents.
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5 Things to Consider as a New Pet Parent
If you adopted a new pet during the pandemic, you’re not alone. In May 2020, the ASPCA reported that animal placement in foster homes jumped 70% in Los Angeles and New York. According to Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Human Society of the United States, pet adoption leaped 90% in some cities, and it was a similar story in Canada.
What are your responsibilities as a new pet parent now that the adoption process is complete and they’re a member of your family?
Spaying and Neutering
Despite increased pet adoptions since the start of the pandemic, millions of pets continue to enter animal shelters and rescues, and millions more roam the streets from accidental litters. Spaying or neutering your pet helps control pet homelessness—and improves pet health and longevity.
- Spaying prevents uterine infections, as well as uterine, ovarian, and breast cancers. And your female pet won’t go into heat.
- Neutering your pet prevents testicular cancer and some prostate problems, and your neutered pet is less likely to roam in search of a mate.
Your veterinarian can advise you on the best age to spay or neuter your pet.
Ticks, fleas, mosquitoes, heartworm, and intestinal parasites didn’t disappear because of lockdowns and restrictions. To protect your pet against preventable conditions like tapeworm, flea allergy dermatitis, and Lyme disease, speak to your veterinarian about the best preventive for your pet.
Vaccines protect your pet from viruses that can be debilitating, costly to treat, and even deadly. Core vaccines for cats and dogs are given starting when your pet is a puppy or kitten, and boosters are given on a regular basis. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the vaccines that your pet needs.
Regular Wellness Exams
To help ensure a long and healthy life, dogs and cats need annual exams to monitor their health (weight, body condition, behavior, etc.) and identify health issues.
As part of their survival instinct, pets are masters at hiding signs of disease. This means a health condition can become advanced before your pet shows any signs. During a wellness exam, your veterinarian may detect early signals of a disease like heart disease, kidney disease, or dental disease before it becomes advanced. Based on the health status of your pet, your veterinarian can recommend how frequently your pet needs a wellness exam.
Diet and Exercise
As it can for people, obesity can cause diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, and other health conditions in pets. To prevent obesity, proper pet nutrition and exercise are key to maintaining optimal weight and health.
- Dogs need at least 30 min. of physical activity each day. Activities and the length of time doing them will vary depending on your dog’s age, breed, and current physical condition.
- Cats need about three 5-min. intense play periods per day.
Your veterinarian can help you choose an appropriate diet for your pet and make recommendations for suitable activities.
Tip: Start your pet off right on their first day at home with you by being consistent with feeding portions and meal frequency. Avoid letting them graze all day or you may set up a pattern of overeating.
An estimated 80% of dogs over the age of two have signs of dental disease, and an estimated 50-90% of cats over the age of four have the same.
The most common pet dental problems are caused by plaque, which can build up and eventually harden to form tartar. As tartar continues to build up, it eventually causes the gums to pull away from the teeth, creating small pockets where bacteria can flourish.
Signs of dental disease include:
- Bad breath
- Bleeding or red gums
- Blood in the saliva
- Loose teeth
- Receding gums
- Difficulty eating
Dental disease can lead to:
- Bone loss
- Jaw fractures
- Disease of the heart, liver, and kidneys
To prevent this, your pet should have a dental exam at least once a year, and regular teeth brushing at home—and regular teeth cleanings by your veterinarian—will help prevent dental disease from occurring. Contact your veterinarian for the best dental plan for your pet.
In summary, adopting a pet involves adopting certain responsibilities to ensure a long, healthy, and happy life with your new furry family member.