With another year drawing to a close, we want to take this opportunity to evaluate our roles as responsible pet owners, to see whether we’ve met our goals for our pets this past year. Work through these important points and decide whether you should get an award for your dedication, or whether you need to work harder next year.
1. Overall health
Taking care of our pets means taking care of their health. Your pet, whether he is a dog, cat, bird or small rodent, should see the vet at least once a year for a full health check. Remember that some animals are really good at hiding illness or pain, so we often only find out that they’re ill when they eventually do start to show symptoms, or the vet picks it up at a routine visit, and then it might be too late.
If the vet sees your pet at least once a year, they can determine if there are any underlying conditions that need treatment. As your pet gets older, he should start seeing the vet twice a year.
Taking out pet insurance is a personal choice, but it can help save your pet’s life if he is covered and he falls ill, or if an accident happens. As we never know what the future holds, pet insurance is something that every pet owner should consider. Remember to read through the terms and conditions of the insurance policy and, if you have an older pet, find out if he will be covered – some insurance companies don’t cover older pets.
The age of your pet will determine how many vaccines he needs each year and how frequently. Keep in mind that vaccinating your pet against rabies is a legal requirement in South Africa. It is for the health of your pet and your family to keep up with his annual doses.
In general, healthy pets who eat good-quality food shouldn’t need any supplements. But if your pet is ill, old, or has some deficiency, your vet might suggest a supplement or two. Always speak to your vet before you give your pet any supplements.
Health and nutrition go hand in hand. If your pet eats a nutritionally balanced meal twice a day, you’re setting him up for a good start to his health. As he gets older, you need to adjust the type of food for the stage of life he is in. Speak to your vet to find out what food is most appropriate for your pet – if he should be on puppy or adult food, or if he is ready for senior food, for example.