Pets can be a wonderful addition to any home, but they are also a responsibility.
It means providing healthcare, nutritious food, clean drinking water and a safe environment, along with ensuring they are happy by giving them play time, exercise and mental stimulation. Responsible ownership also means being prepared to keep and care for the pet for its entire lifetime.
“Love your pet, keep them happy and healthy and you will have a friend for life,” says Saskia Salden of the Cayman Islands Humane Society.
She offers these tips and checklists to take care of your pet’s health and well-being:
VACCINATIONS AND CHECK-UPS
Puppies younger than six months old will need four vaccinations, each three weeks apart.
The vaccinations protect against distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza and parvovirus. Puppies older than six months old, and adult dogs, should be tested for heartworm disease. Puppies and dogs should also be dewormed.
Kittens will need three vaccinations, each three weeks apart. These vaccinations protect against feline leukaemia and feline AIDS. They should also be tested for these diseases. Cats and kittens should be dewormed.
To maintain optimal health, pets should have an examination once a year, or as recommended by their veterinarian.
Heartworm disease is a serious condition, transmitted by mosquitoes, and can be fatal for dogs if left untreated. Keep them on heartworm prevention medication, such as Heartgard. These tablets are given once a month. Heartgard is only available through veterinary clinics and mobile vets on-island.
For dogs: Food, bowls, treats, toys, dog bed, collar, leash, poop bags, crate, grooming supplies.
For cats: Food, bowls, treats, toys, cat bed, litter box and scoop, kitty litter, carrier.
If there is more than one dog in the home, feed them in separate areas. The Humane Society recommends feeding dogs twice a day on a regular schedule. Cats should have their food out all day. Make sure pets always have access to fresh, clean water.
SPAY OR NEUTER YOUR PET
This will help extend their life expectancy, prevent overpopulation and unwanted litters. Spaying and neutering has several health benefits as well. For example, spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast cancer in females and neutering helps prevent testicular cancer in males.
Puppies and kittens as young as eight weeks old can be neutered as long as they are healthy.
INTRODUCING THE PET INTO THE HOME
Introduce the new pet slowly and with lots of patience. Keep them separate from other pets for a few days so everyone can get used to their new surroundings, sounds, smells and routine. Cats should be kept in a separate room or area for a few days so they can acclimatise. This is especially important if there are other pets in the home.
ADOPTING A PET
The Cayman Islands Humane Society will take potential pet parents through the adoption process and offer advice about what to consider before bringing a furry friend into your life. That includes such topics as training, home safety and health checks. For more information, visit caymanislandshumanesociety.com.