The purpose of this page is not to offer a step by step guide to pet care. I simply want to highlight two important aspects of pet care that many folks often overlook.
Nutrition - There are so many commercial pet foods on the market. The vast majority are marketed in a way to appeal to pet owners without offering much in the way of nutritional value to their pets. Most commercial pet foods, including many of those who are touted as being "premium", are made up of mostly grain with a small amount of meat. Then it's coated with recycled fat to make it tasty for our pets. Dogs and cats are carnivores. So why is grain (usually corn) the main ingredient in most commercial pet foods? It's not because it's good for your pet. It's simply a cheap filler! Some commercial pet foods also contain coloring agents and preservatives that can be toxic to your pet.
You can see how your pet food rates at Petfoodratings.net or get detailed information about the ingredients in your dog's food at Dog Food Analysis. Before you buy that next bag or can of pet food, read the back of the package and do some research. Your pet will be healthier for it!
Dental Care - Most of the pet owners that I know are quite conscientious about their pets' health care. They make sure their pets receive their annual wellness exams, vaccinations, heartworm preventative and address any health issues that may arise with one exception -- dental care. Infected teeth and gums can lead to tooth loss and periodontal disease which is irreversible. This isn't just a problem of the mouth either. Tartar and infected areas contain bacteria which can spread to other areas of the body such as the heart, kidneys, intestinal tract, joints, etc. It's all so easily preventable by just having your pet's teeth examined by the vet when you're there for that annual exam and following the doctor's recommendations.
When I adopted an 11 year old, previously owned dog in early 2011, I was also given copies of her medical records. Each and every year for 10 years Gracie was examined by the vet, vaccinated and given heartworm preventative. The vet records showed her teeth were cleaned once when she was approximately 5 years old. After that, the vet noted the condition of Gracie's teeth each year during her examination. The first notation indicated excessive plaque. The following year excessive plaque and calculus formation was noted. The next year calculus and halitosis was noted. Calculus, halitosis and gingivitis were recorded the following year and every year thereafter. I don't know why Gracie's former owner, who otherwise provided exemplary health care, neglected to address the escalating dental problems. By the time I acquired Gracie, she not only needed her teeth cleaned, she required oral surgery to remove 9 rotting teeth, (some of which were abscessed) resulting in many sutures in her mouth. All of this could have been so easily prevented.
Recently, an acquaintance complained that her dog's breath was just horrible. She also said several of her dog's teeth had fallen out. When I suggested her dog might need to go to the vet for a dental exam, the woman said that would be frivolous. Frivolous indeed!