Every animal is different and even though you may have been a best pet care parent many times over; chances are, adopting a new animal to be a part of your family means meeting that particular pet’s unique needs and quirks.
For most people, pet care is summed up as food, water, shelter, and visits with the animal doctor, but the truth is pet care is so much more than that. How so? Every living creature can survive on food, water, shelter, and a clean bill of health but hey, surviving isn’t the same as living. You would want your new animal friend to be able to live life to the fullest, right? That means love, affection, exercise, mental stimulation, companionship, and having a real animal-human relationship. In other words they all need TLC.
Say what? Animal-human relationship? Yes! Even animals who thrive on being alone needs some interaction and stimulation every now and then. Why? Because living means enjoying life. In this installment of the Ultimate Guide to Pet Adoption series, we will talk about ways to improve your pet’s overall quality of life so grab a pen and paper and get ready for some serious note taking!
The Essential Pet Care Checklist
First off, let us set aside the common belief that pet care consists of only food, shelter, water, and the occasional trip to the vet – these only addresses the animal’s physical needs. As we’ve mentioned earlier, we believe in the holistic approach to pet care and that means taking care of the pet’s mental, emotional, and social needs aside from the obvious physical ones.
Imagine your life living inside your room and only given the basics. Not so fun right? You need interaction or you’ll go crazy. You crave contact and if you don’t get it, you’ll get grumpy. The same is true with animals. Even ‘boring’ creatures like a lizard needs something like a perch or post to keep it company. Some animals can literally die of loneliness so ensuring that you provide the animal with some sort of interaction every now and then is essential for its well-being.
Let’s talk about stimulation. For some pets, stimulation may just be in the form of interacting with you or with a toy. On the other hand, some animals need to combine physical activity with that, then they get their mental stimulation going by doing something they enjoy. Ever seen a cat chase a speck of dust? It seems so trivial to us but for the cat, that’s like playing with an Xbox!
We won’t be going into detail on vet visits per animal type but just know that one of the very first things you need to do when you get a new pet is to have a thorough medical checkup done by your trusted vet or holistic animal care provider. This ensures that you will catch any potential problem as early as possible so you can spend more time being around your new animal friend. All the necessary vaccinations must be done and recorded before you bring your pet home. In fact, this usually part of the adoption process.
To make things easier for you guys, we’ve written the essential pet care tips per animal type so you can copy and paste the parts that apply to your pet. You can share copies to members of your human family or keep it handy when you go shopping for pet supplies. We’ll also talk about the essential pet care needs for the most commonly adopted animals: cats, dogs, farm animals (goat, cow, horse), and small furry ones such as guinea pigs, rabbits, and hamsters.
Pet Care for Cats
Cats oh cats! Is there any cheaper and funnier way to entertain yourself and exercise your cat than playing ‘catch-the-light’?
Cats are fairly easy to take care of, provided you can give them lots of space (to roam around in and of course, to respect the famous cat’s need for personal space), and lots of fun things to play with.
Cats are drawn to movement. This is why they love the red laser lights they have so much fun chasing around and why they sometimes play-hunt our feet, hands, and pretty much anything that moves. The good thing about this is, playing like this satisfies your cat’s need for exercise, mental stimulation, and socialization. Since cats also equate play with affection, playing with them means you’re also connecting with them emotionally.
Let’s talk about The Claw. No self-respecting cat would let its nails be anything less than razor sharp but you and your furniture surely won’t be a fan of that. To ensure your furry baby is kept happy, make sure that you have a scratching post or two in your house to make yourself and your furniture less attractive choices for your cat’s claw-sharpening routine.
How about the food? Cats are purely meat eaters. They require more protein than dogs so choosing the proper pet food for your cat is essential. Don’t forget the wheatgrass too! Cats love munching on wheatgrass because it helps them cough up fur balls and provides them with trace minerals plus some vitamins which they cannot get from their high-protein food alone.
Now that we’ve taken care of food, we’ll talk about elimination - and you surely won’t want that just anywhere. Cat urine and cat poo are known to be very stinky so you better be ready with some kitty litter before you bring your new cat home with you. No self-respecting cat would tolerate just eliminating anywhere so make your kitty feel happy and welcome by making sure that you have at least 2 litter boxes for one cat. The usual count is at 1 litter box per cat plus one extra.
A common problem our feline friends seem to have is The Hairball. Now, we don’t mean to scare you by any means but all the licking and making themselves look cute for you can cause your kitty ball of fur to have some hairball issues. If you have a cat who’s prone to having that, it won’t hurt to have some safe and effective hairball remedy on standby.
Another special consideration has something to do with boosting your kitty cat’s immune system. Their immune system is very similar to humans and in some rare instances, they can even get flu or cold from us. A way to prevent this or address this is to give the cat some probiotics and/or Sili Mer G5 to help strengthen the immune system. Bonus part? It works for dogs (and other furry creatures big and small) too! Win-win for a multi-pet household!
Pet Care for Hamsters, Guinea Pigs and Rabbits
Oh boy, so you’ve decided to adopt a little furry creature? First off, don’t even dare to bring your new hamster, guinea pig, or rabbit without the proper enclosure all set up and ready to go. These animals can sneak unto anywhere and things can get messy if they don’t have their own place to stay, especially if you have other animals in the house. Ensure that you get the proper type of enclosure or cage for the animal you’re getting and have it be fitted with toys, wheels, burrows, nooks, and feeding trays plus dishes as needed.
Hamsters and guinea pigs love nooks they can snuggle into and rabbits love having a bit of space to be able to hop around, so getting a cage which suits their exercise, hygiene, and socialization needs is crucial.
How about their emotional needs? Most small furry animals do better living with a partner or another animal of the same sex and same specie but this may not be true for all, especially for hamsters. Some types live alone and some love being around other hamsters. You can also try to entice the animal with a toy or use whatever small animal exercise wheel you have in its cage. They are really fairly simple creatures which can provide you with so much joy!
Now that we have all that plus proper food and water, just making sure that the hamster, rabbit, or guinea pig has the right bedding and proper chew toy can be all that’s needed to guarantee that your new animal friend will have a happy life with you.
Pet Care for Farm Animals
Yes! Farm animals can be adopted and kept as pets too! These days, some horses, goats, and even chickens can turn up in shelters and rescues. If you have the space and experience to deal with these animals, they surely make great affectionate pets. What are the things you need to have to ensure your farm animals will be happy and healthy?
First off is the feed. Farm animals will certainly need a lot of hay and fodder (even chickens love hay!) so you better be ready for that. They would also need fresh grass and other greens plus plenty of space to exercise and move around.
Adopting or caring for farm animals takes quite a bit of resources which is easy enough to provide if you have them on hand. For instance, goats can go through pounds upon pounds of foliage a day. They often eat almost all types of greenery. It would be great to take care that they don’t get into plants that you don’t want them to eat (like your backyard vegetable garden or your mom’s prized ornamental bushes). Horses have special needs too and it is mostly for them to have lots of space to strut and run in. That’s easy enough if you live in a rural area but quite a tricky and expensive problem if you live in the city.
Another thing that most farm animals would need is a salt links. Cattle, goats, horses, and even deer love salt licks. Because their diet is primary composed of grass and foliage, herbivorous farm animals need the salt licks to ensure they receive some trace minerals which they need and of course, salt too.
The pet care ensemble for your farm animals won’t be complete without some sort of post they can scratch themselves with. Think of it as creature comfort. A scratching post is as comforting to a goat as a mug of hot cocoa for you on a winter evening.
Just because horses, goats, sheeps, etc are farm animals it doesn’t mean they don’t need some TLC from you. There are numerous stories of special and touching bonds which have been formed between a human and his/her four-legged herbivore friend. You might be surprised at how affectionate a goat or a horse can be.
Pet Care for Dogs
We wouldn’t be able to finish off this article without some pet care essentials for man’s best friend! No matter what breed of dog you have, your new best friend will need good quality pet food, grooming, exercise, play time, walks, clean water, vet visits, and a good place to stay.
We are not here to tell you that dogs should be allowed inside the home and treated nearly the same as your human family. What we advocate is that wherever you allow the dog to stay, it should be dry year-round, be safe from the elements, and safe from other animals if you live in a rural area. This means not chaining the dog if you live in an area with bears and wolves. Your dog may need to run or defend itself in the event another animal chooses to attack. Keep in mind dogs are social animals so they would really benefit from being around you and your family – both human and animal.
Let’s talk about food. You may choose dry food, canned dog food, cooked meals, or even raw food diet for your dog. All of those diets can be fine as long as you do not give foods which can harm your dog such as cooked chicken bones, chocolate, and certain nuts (more of that list here). Giving nutritional treats such as broth, carrots, and pieces of fruit like pineapples are great because they would provide the dog with essential and trace nutrients which may not be present from other food sources. Go ahead and let your fur baby enjoy some carrot slices!
Dogs do tend to get bad breath and tartar build up no matter how meticulous you are about oral hygiene. This can be prevented and addressed by choosing a better diet and giving the dog a homeopathic remedy for halitosis and tartar build up. You might be surprised to find out how many natural and safe homeopathic remedies are now available for pets. What’s even better is that most of them work not just for one type of animal but also for a lot of other furry creatures like horses, rabbits, and pigs!
As for mental stimulation and socialization, almost all dogs love taking a walk. If you’re a fan of the show Dog Whisperer, you already know how important dog-walking is for the dog’s mental and social well-being as well as forming a bond with you. You can even make the walks extra fun by playing games like fetch or tag. Dogs do tend to love tugging at things so even a piece of sock can bring your dog so much more fun than a $50 toy, it’s all about spending time with you and having a relaxed time!
How about you? Do you have some pet care tips to share? Let us know by leaving a comment down below or joining us at Facebook where other animal lovers awaits. To guarantee that you won’t miss the next parts of our animal adoption series, don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter either on the right side or below. Til next time!
Let’s move on to bringing your new pet home, shall we?