National Pet Week

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Sharitta Watson
  • 97th Medical Group
National Pet Week (May 3-9) is quickly approaching. This is the perfect time to celebrate the bond we share with our pets. National Pet Week focuses on responsible pet ownership, recognition of the human-animal bond and public awareness of veterinary medicine. 

Being a responsible pet owner is much more than just providing adequate water, food and shelter for your pet. Domestic pets are completely dependent on their owners for their welfare. Owning a pet is a lifetime commitment. If you cannot make the commitment, do not get the pet. Choose a pet that fits your lifestyle, do not get a highly energetic dog if you do not have the time to exercise him. If you cannot afford grooming or cannot do the grooming yourself, pick a low maintenance dog. Do not make your dog a "backyard dog". Dogs strive on companionship and need to be with their human pack. 

Keep identification tags on your pet; it is your pet's ticket back home. Both dogs and cats need ID! Micro-chipping is good too, but an external tag is essential, it could mean the difference of your neighbor returning your pet to you or turning him into the pound!
Obedience train and socialize your animal, do not let your pets run loose. Dogs should be walked on leashes and any outdoor off-leash access area for pets should be securely fenced-in. An outdoor cat's average lifespan is 3 years; an indoor cat's average lifespan is 14 years. Provide your pet the proper diet, as obesity can be as deadly as malnutrition. Be aware that some foods can be deadly, such as chocolate, and fatty foods can cause pancreatitis. Also make sure your pet gets exercise daily. 

You will want to have your new puppy examined by a veterinarian to ensure that it has no major health problems and is started on a program of preventive care. Your puppy's health care plan includes a series of vaccinations against distemper, parvovirus and coronavirus (gastrointestinal diseases), infectious hepatitis, and respiratory infections (adenovirus, parainfluenza, and bordetella). Vaccination protocols are designed on the basis of your puppy's risk of infection and may vary depending upon your puppy's age, breed, and environmental exposures (eg., in certain locales, vaccinations for Lyme disease and leptospirosis may be considered standard parts of the protocol). 

Vaccinations are usually given in three week intervals from 6 to 16 weeks of age. At 15 to 16 weeks of age, the puppy receives its first rabies vaccination. Puppies should be checked for intestinal parasites (usually two stool samples three weeks apart), fleas, and heartworm disease (depending on age), and appropriate treatment or preventatives administered. 

Spay or neuter your pets, there are too many homeless animals without adding to the problem. The decision to spay or neuter your puppy is one of the best decisions you can make for its well-being. Spaying your female dog can help to prevent cancers of the reproductive tract and breast cancer, and will decrease the incidence of reproductive infections. Neutering your male dog will prevent testicular cancer and can decrease the incidence of prostate problems. The incidence of certain behavioral problems has also been shown to be reduced when dogs are spayed or neutered. Your veterinarian can discuss its benefits with you and decide the best time to schedule the procedure. 

Some people are interested in letting their animals breed so that their children can witness "the miracle of life". Because there are an abundance of pets without a home, only serious breeders who have the desire, expertise and time to breed well should breed at all. Of note, some states now require breeders to maintain a license. Talk to your veterinarian for more information. 

Take extra precautions during holidays like Fourth of July and Halloween. It can be a scary and confusing time for pets; make sure your pets are secure indoors. Take special care of your pet during their senior years. Be kind to your pet and show him love; remember you are his world.