Although we all love our pets, we don’t always love the “work” that goes into them.

 

We’re talking about brushing and bathing, trips to the vet and cleaning up after them. It can be a lot!

 

That’s why we’ve compiled 10 tips on how to make smarter choices for your pet’s health — so you can spend more time loving your pet, and less time working at it.

 

1) Put a collar on it.

 

Make sure your pet always wears an identification tag so they can be returned home if they get lost. Even if your pet is microchipped, an ID tag will help authorities locate you immediately, whereas a microchip might take longer to be scanned and registered. You can get a custom-engraved ID tag at PetSmart® or online in minutes — just pick a shape, enter your information and check out.

 

2) Keep their mouths clean.

 

Brushing your dog or cat’s teeth is important to keep their breath fresh and their teeth healthy. You should brush their teeth every day if possible, but even brushing once a week will help reduce plaque buildup and tartar. 

 

3) Know the right food for your pet

 

Some pets can handle human food, but not all of them can. Check with your veterinarian on what type of food is best suited for your pet. Doing this will help you avoid any potential health problems in the future.

 

4) Take care of their dental health

 

Some people might ignore dental care for their pets because they don't think it matters. This is a huge mistake as bad teeth can lead to more serious issues in the future. You should brush their teeth at least twice a week so that they stay healthy and clean.

 

5) Get the right toys

 

You need to get toys that are right for your pet to play with because they help keep them entertained and happy. If you get the wrong toys, then you may be hurting them by accident instead of helping them out.

 

6) Find the right vet for you

 

Don't shop around for vets the same way you might shop around for a good deal on a new car. Instead, find a veterinarian who is a good fit for your pet's needs. Make sure he or she takes the time to answer any questions you have and makes sure you understand all of your pet's care options.

 

Taking care of your pet's health is an important responsibility. Your veterinarian can help you make smart choices when it comes to nutrition, vaccinations and preventative care, so choose wisely!

 

7) Maintain your pet’s health with regular checkups and preventive care

 

Maintaining your pet’s health with regular checkups and preventive care will help keep the costs of veterinarian care down. Learn about the health needs of your pet, and address them early on. Find a veterinarian you trust to partner with you in keeping your pet healthy.

 

The most obvious way to improve your pet’s health is by feeding her a high-quality diet. A premium food usually isn’t much more expensive than lower-quality fare, but it will keep your dog healthy over the long term, helping to prevent chronic illnesses such as arthritis and diabetes that can cost thousands of dollars to treat.

 

8) Keep your pet safe at home and away from dangerous things

 

Keep all harmful items out of reach. This means securing household chemicals and cleaning supplies like bleach or ammonia inside cabinets or on high shelves. You also should keep medications and over-the-counter drugs away from pets. These can include human medications, but also pet medications that could be harmful if ingested in large quantities or dosages meant for another animal.

 

Secure trash cans with lids. If a pet can get into a trash can, they may eat something that could make them ill or even cause death. Trash cans should have secure lids that can't be easily opened by an inquisitive pet, including those with step-open lids or foot pedals to open them hands-free.

 

9) Be prepared for emergencies

 

Make sure you and your pet are prepared for an emergency.

 

Keep a few days’ worth of food, water and any medication he takes, along with copies of his medical records, in a safe place where you can access them quickly. You should have a list of your vet’s name, address and phone number in your emergency kit. Have the number for the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435) handy as well. This 24-hour hotline can help you to determine if something is toxic to your pet, and if a visit to the veterinarian is warranted.

 

You can also download the ASPCA Mobile App from iTunes or Google Play. The app includes information on how to keep pets safe during disasters and provides quick access to the Animal Poison Control Center Database—a searchable list of common household items that might harm your pet.

 

10) Stay informed

 

When shopping for products, it helps to know what's really best for your pet — not just what's being advertised by companies trying to sell things to you. For example, many pet owners are under the impression that dogs need grain-based foods because they're meat-eaters, but grain is actually an inexpensive filler typically used in lower-quality foods. There are plenty of brands that don't use grain as a main ingredient — and many dogs thrive on such foods.

 

Look for independent certification programs to verify claims made on the label. Those types of programs use third-party verifiers to approve ingredients and manufacturing processes. Programs such as the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) nutrient profiles, Whole Food Nutrition and Nutrient Rich also provide standards for pet food manufacturers to meet.

 

Check ingredient lists. Manufacturers must list ingredients in descending order by weight. The first three to five ingredients make up the majority of the food, so choose foods that have meat as their 1st or 2nd ingredient. Meat protein is more beneficial than plant protein for your pet’s health.

 

Look for recognizable words that you recognize, like beef, chicken or potatoes instead of ambiguous terms like “meat product” or “by-product meal,” which can be any animal tissue not intended for human consumption.

 

Watch out for claims that sound too good to be true — they probably are!

 

When you think about it, your pet’s health is one of the most important things in your life. So if you want to naturally and safely improve your pet’s quality of life, and ensure that your pet has a longer, happier life, these ten tips can help you do that.

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