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I have always been obsessed with animals. My mom calls me Ellie Mae Clampet because strays have a way of finding me. Which is why we’ve had 2 squirrels, a bat, a chinchilla, a ferret, 2 bunnies, 8 turtles, 10 frogs, a billion cats and dogs. I like animals more than people, so I truly enjoy spoiling them… but mostly, I want them to be healthy. Here are some pet care tips from a vet tech, a pet lover and a kennel manager.

My old boss used to say “an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure”. If you’re a pet parent, you need to remember that. It might save you a lot of time, money and heartache. Keeping your pet healthy is easier than treating it after an illness or injury. This is what I’ve learned from working at a veterinarian for 5 years (and living with Hunter- who was a vet tech for 10 years).

Meet Our Pets

The pet care tips listed here are things I’ve learned over many years of being an obsessive mommy to these runts. They drive me insane and test my last nerve… but I wouldn’t trade any of them for the world.

Before You Get A Pet

To the parents buying a puppy for their kids for Christmas, only to send it to the pound a few months later: don’t adopt a freaking pet.

Dear college kid wanting a cute puppy to drag to tailgating parties…. don’t adopt a freaking pet.

To the people considering buying a pet with any intentions other than keeping that pet until it dies: DON’T ADOPT A FREAKING PET.

You would be disgusted if you knew how many people ‘return’ their pet. Like it was a dress that you bought for a party and then returned after. Once they realize dropping food into a bowl does not count as pet care, they decide ‘eh no thanks’. You’d be even more disgusted to find out how many people want to euthanize their pet if they decide to move, have a baby or just ‘don’t want a pet’ anymore.

If you’re considering bringing any pet into your family, you need to be certain of your decision. You need to be financially prepared to care for a pet (in sickness and in health). You have to be sure that you can dedicate time to care for them, train them and love on them. If you can’t guarantee that they will be a priority forever, don’t adopt a pet.

I’m so adamant about this because I think pets truly deserve more than some people are willing to offer. Pets aren’t just things that you buy and put in your yard to make you look like a nice, loving family. They are living, breathing, feeling beings. While you may legally ‘own’ them, your real job is to care for them. If you don’t have the heart, time or money to make that a priority, a pet will not fit happily in your home.

Day One Of Pet Care

Keeping your pets healthy starts the second you bring them home. You need to make sure that you have everything they need. Not only pet care supplies, but a plan for your life together.

The Right Pet Care Supplies

For dogs, you’ll obviously need a leash, collar, ID tags, water bowl, food bowl, dog bed, dog food, dog toys, chew bones…

For cats, you need a litter box, litter, a litter scoop, food bowls, water bowls, cat food, cat toys, nail trimmers, cat toys, collar and ID tags for outdoor cats….

A lot of pet parents go all out for their fur kids at first. They go to the pet store and buy everything in sight. However, it’s more than just buying the supplies. It’s about buying the right supplies.

Most new dog owners will buy a retractable leash. However, they can be terribly dangerous for both you and your dog. They can get wrapped around things…they can give you ‘rope burn’…your dog could run out in front of a car. You could drop the leash and scare your dog, causing them to run away from the big plastic box chasing them.

Trainers hate retractable leashes for many reasons, but mainly because it doesn’t set a strict boundary for them. The trainers I worked with usually recommend a leash like this.

Also, I know it’s hard to stomach spending $20-$30 bucks on a water bowl, so a lot of people buy cute, cheap plastic bowls. I have strong feelings against plastic bowls, even ones made in the USA.

Most pet bowls say ‘Not Safe For Human Use‘…… why is it safe for my pets but not my pets?

The plastic can leech chemicals into their water, a puppy can chew and swallow pieces of a bowl… I’ve just never liked plastic. I opt for a sturdy ceramic bowl instead. They last longer and you can disinfect them.

We had the same ceramic water bowl for 6 years, but sadly it broke when we were moving into our new house. I searched high and low for a decent looking ceramic bowl that wasn’t bright colors or say ‘drink’. We love this bowl. Even with 9 billion animals, I only fill it twice a day!

One day, I might make a list of all the pet supplies we live for… and the flops. Like I said, I’m an overbearing pet mommy and I do everything in my power to keep my fur kids around for as long as possible. I know I go overboard and I know not everyone will be as nutty about pet care as we are. However, just know that I’ve done my fair share of research- I want your pet to live as long as possible too!

Your Pet Care Plan

All pet care tips from a vet tech will inevitably require you to start with a plan.

As part of your plan, you need to decide on long-term rules your pet needs to follow. These have to be set in stone and you need to make sure the whole family is aware of the rules. Are they allowed on the sofa? Can they sleep in your bed? Will you let them eat table scraps? How often do they get treats? What time do they get fed?

This plan is to prevent any kind of confusion for you or the pet. They learn people, patterns and behavior very quickly. You will end up with a very undisciplined, confused pet if one family member lets them on the sofa, but the others say the sofa is off limits.

Pet care has to include snuggles.
We let all of our pets on the bed and all the sofas. I’m a sucker for snuggles.

It’s also important to decide who is in charge of what aspects of care. Ask the overweight dog about why this is important. No one could figure out why he was so fat. He was exercising and only getting 1/2 cup of food twice a day. Except, the parents didn’t talk about who was supposed to feed him. So, he was running a con-job and getting 1/2 cup FOUR times a day.

If you have a crazy hectic family schedule or no one is really ‘in charge’ of certain aspects of pet care, just make sure ya’ll have a system to communicate. Something like this feeding reminder chart may help keep everyone on the same page. Don’t just wing it… especially if your pet is on medications. You could end up overdosing them!

Training

A lot of people see training as ‘optional’ when it comes to adopting a pet. But training doesn’t require you to bring your dog to a trainer. It means conditioning them to understand the rules and certain commands. This is important for their safety and your sanity. And yes, you can even train cats.

Healthy Boundaries

Train your pets to stay away from the door: so they know not to dart or get a paw squished. You want to teach them to stay off the counter: so you don’t end up with hair in your food (or worse, they could get ahold of some toxic foods). They also need to learn to socialize (with people and other pets): this can help so you you don’t end up with a fearful, anxious or aggressive pet.

Training your pet doesn’t have to cost money. I honestly just believe in calm, consistent reminders. Whacking your pet with a fly swatter or continually laying on the shock collar button doesn’t teach them anything. It teaches them to fear you or something they associate with being punished.

I know dogs that become fearful of children because they’re continually swatted at for getting too close to a newborn baby. Then the parents are confused later why the dog doesn’t like the child- or even worse, will bite the child out of fear.

Training your pet is the best way to keep them healthy, happy and safe. An untrained pet can injure children, hurt themselves or even poison themselves accidentally. It’s also very beneficial for your relationship with your pet to make sure they are well trained. A happy family rarely includes a destructive pet.

The ‘Small Dog Exception’

So many small dog pet parents don’t set any boundaries or rules. They say ‘he’s a little dog- it’s not like it matters’. This is the opposite of the truth. If you have a small dog, you need to be more adamant about creating a structured pet care plan. They need to know that they can’t get under your feet and that they should only jump in the laps of guests if they’re invited.

Small dogs are naturally more fearful and reactive due to their size. It’s easier for a small dog to feel cornered than it is to make a Great Dane feel like they are in trouble. When getting a small dog, make sure to consider how often they will be around children, other dogs and what you will do to make sure that they feel comfortable in each situation.

Exercise

Exercise is something that most pet parents think they can skip over. So, you come home after a 12-hour work day and you’re exhausted. Guess what? Your dog doesn’t know or care. They still expect to have your attention and time.

They have been at home alone all day long. They’re excited to see you and they have tons of excess energy. Even some cats get bored if they’re left alone to a silent house all day long. If you become lazy about exercise, you can’t blame your pet when they become destructive or anxious.

Taking your dog on a nature walk is a great pet care activity! It makes everyone so happy!
I prefer to take the dogs on ‘nature walks than on walks around the neighborhood. Our dogs are off-leash trained and have way more fun smelling and running freely.

Take your dog on a walk, throw the frisbee or take them swimming. I think the dog park is a great outlet for energy (if it’s used sparingly). I am guilty of taking Alli to the dog park every single day when she was younger. It’s good as an occasional treat. However, a lot of ‘dog park addicts’ are truly ‘over-socializing’ their dog. The same dogs that go every single day will create a ‘clique’ (or pack) and bully the new dogs.

Tailored Exercise

Older dogs, puppies, smaller dogs and cats still need some form of exercise. Age and breed should not cause you to let your pet become a sedentary blob. No, you can’t run them or throw ball like you would for a young, active dog.

Depriving an animal of regular exercise will shorten their lifespan. They’re just like humans- exercise is necessary for a healthy heart. Seeing as smaller and older dogs are prone to heart conditions anyways, it’s actually even more important for them to get moving.

Even active animals enjoy a variety of exercise outlets. For Alli and the cats, we use a laser pointer tower to get some excess energy out. It’s sort of a cross between physical exercise and mental stimulation.

Mental Stimulation

Alli and Cooper are both very active, anxious puppies. If we can’t go for our normal run, they go nuts. So, we use puzzles as a boredom buster to tide them over until we can get some real exercise. Alli likes puzzles because she is a freaking genius- she loves figuring things out. Cooper likes them because he’s food motivated.

Puzzles and brain are a must in any anxious pup’s pet care routine. You don’t have to spend a ton of money on fancy toys. A milk jug with a few holes and 1/4 cup of kibble will keep most dogs entertained for a while.

Can you tell we like Nina Ottosson? I’ll do a post later all about behavior and talk about why we’re obsessed with her. I almost forgot what these look like new… ours are a bit… tattered.

We buy the super durable puzzles because we use them so often and Coop had a tendency of tearing pieces of plastic off the milk jugs. (Always, always, always watch your pups with any kind of toy!)

Exercise isn’t always convenient or clean. This is what happens when it rains for 3 days….

‘Hide and seek’ with treats is free, easy and fun for you both. Just go around and hide small pieces of kibble or treats around the house. Super smart or obsessive pups may start searching the house even when it’s not ‘game time’. So, make sure to have some sort of ritual before you start to play so they know it’s a special activity and there isn’t always going to be food tucked around the house.

Exercising Puppies

The minimum and maximum exercise for a puppy will vary greatly among breeds. Due to a puppy’s growing joints, bones and ligaments, you can’t exercise them vigorously. As a rule of thumb, you can increase exercise by 5 minutes per month of age. So, a 4-month-old puppy should have 20 minutes of exercise each day, 25 minutes at 5 months, etc.

I promised to provide the best pet care possible the day I brought her home.
Alli at 4 months

The reason I feel the need to stress this: doggie daycare. One of the reasons I quit my job in vet med was because I managed the kennel. We had parents bringing 4 month old puppies in for 12 hours of daycare 5 days a week. They would plop the energetic puppy into my arms, giggle and say ‘Wear him out today’.

Nothing made me more upset than pet parents who flat out wouldn’t listen. Vigorous exercise like that at such a young age will cause long-term joint damage, separation anxiety, bad dog body language, dog aggression…. We’ll touch more on this in a minute.

One of my #1 pet care tips from a vet tech….Please don’t over-exercise your puppy. Stick to the minimum exercise recommendation times… and if they’re still off the walls, try a puzzle or brain game.

Doggie Daycare

Doggie daycare is not as it seems. It is not the end-all, be-all, cure-all for your hyper dog. Being overstimulated surely isn’t a fix for your bored dog. A group of 30 dogs wont make your shy dog turn into a social dog. Leaving your dog at daycare wont calm a dog with separation anxiety. Being forced to socialize wont make your insecure dog become an outgoing dog. And it damn sure wont make your dog that ‘doesn’t like dogs’…. start to like dogs.

Call me a drama queen or whatever you wish. However, I have seen daycare literally ruin the best dogs. I want to write an entire post on this one day, but for now I’ll keep it short and sweet.

Their Experience In Daycare

Not all dogs are cut out for daycare. To be honest, most dogs are not ‘daycare dogs’. They may get ‘accepted’ or ‘pass the assessment’ that most daycare/boarding facilities require. But trust me on this, they are not judging if your dog actually enjoys daycare.

They’re assessing the risk they assume by allowing your dog to come in their facility. Then they are thinking about profit. Then they are thinking about ease of controlling your dog. After that, they’re considering about 50 other aspects before they consider if your dog is actually enjoying their time in daycare.

And for probably 90% of dogs, I would say ‘no. They are not enjoying it. They are tolerating it’.

Most facilities do not offer the correct training, have the necessary policies or have the building retrofitted to conduct a safe, happy, truly effective doggie daycare program.

As a good pet care provider, you have to listen to your pet's wants and needs. Alli wants to leave daycare and needs time with a puppy.
I broke Alli by taking her to daycare so often. She truly ended up hating other dogs. Other than Savannah, her mini-me.

Most dogs will return home exhausted. But don’t mistake that for a good time. I like to explain it as a day of travel. Picture 12 hours of traveling by bus, plane, taxi, subway… Non-stop, go go go, loud noises, congested areas, lots of shouting. No real down time, no personal space. So busy that you actually forget to take care of basic needs (water/potty breaks). At the end of the day, you’re exhausted beyond your wildest dreams.

Then imagine getting up to do the same thing the next day.

Again, I’ll write more on this later. Just please, trust me. I have one extremely anxiously pup because of daycare.

I am the mother who did this wrong. Alli was in daycare for 10+ hours 4 times a week till she was almost 2. I didn’t stop taking her until one day my mom was watching her on the doggie cams and saw her cowering in the corner. I am also the mother who found out way too late that I was upsetting my dog…. and paying to do it.

Diet

I’m an incredible stickler about food. My childhood dog, Sugar, died at 11 due to kidney failure. She lived on a solid diet of Little Ceasers wet food, milk bone treats and table scraps. She was a very active, spoiled Jack Russell Terrier, so she could have lived much longer if we had fed her a healthy diet.

Sugar fell victim to a poor pet care plan.

Table Scraps

When Sugar was alive, my dad would freeze grapes and eat them as a snack. One grape for him, one for Sugar, one for him, one for Sugar. She got any food that we would eat… she was incredibly spoiled. Normally, I’d be proud of a spoiled pet, but this type of spoiling is what led her to an early grave.

Here are some things that are deadly/toxic for dogs:

  • Alcohol
  • Avocado
  • Chocolate, Coffee and Caffeine
  • Citrus
  • Coconut and Coconut Oil
  • Grapes and Raisins
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Milk and Dairy
  • Nuts
  • Onions, Garlic, Chives
  • Raw/Undercooked Meat, Eggs and Bones
  • Salt and Salty Snack Foods
  • Xylitol
  • Yeast Dough
Pet care means protecting your pets from things they may love.
Her first week at home with us, Alli counter surfed and cleared 1/2 our pizza waiting to go in the oven… bad poops for DAYS

Cats have a similar list:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine (coffee, soda, tea)
  • Chives
  • Chocolate
  • Garlic
  • Grapes
  • Onions
  • Raisins
  • Xylitol (found in sugarless gums, candies, toothpastes)
  • Yeast dough

Cats and dogs alike can be mischievous and get into all kinds of things. Alli swallowed a cigarette butt on a walk when she was a puppy. I spent all night on the phone with animal poison control. Otto ate 2 foot of ribbon and had to have very expensive surgery. So, as you would with children, make sure to put away any medications, toxic plants, household chemicals…

Otto after his surgery… that was one of the worst weeks of my life…

Store Bought Nutrition

As far as dog food and kibble, I’m one picky mama. Pet nutrition is similar to human nutrition. One week, eggs are bad for you… the next week, you should eat 3 eggs a day. One week grain-free diets can keep your pet alive longer… the next week, grain-free diets can cause heart disease. I just do the best I can with what information is available to me (and of course, consulting with our vet).

Alli started out on Blue Buffalo as a puppy. It was the healthiest thing to feed a dog when she was a puppy. Turns out, they’re really just marketing geniuses and it’s not actually better for them than a brand like Purina… but its triple the price.

Now, we go back and forth between any of the ‘Taste of the Wild’ recipes and Natures Domain from Costco. Our vet actually recommended Natures Domain over most of the expensive brands. It’s produced by Blue Diamond and they are one of the ‘safest’ food brands. They have an excellent product recall history and it’s a quality food.

Grocery Store Diets

My general guideline is: if it’s on the shelves at your local dollar store or your local grocery store… don’t get it. There are a few exceptions to this because some grocery stores are starting to offer very quality foods. Just stay away from Ol Roy, Alpo, Cesar, Big Red…. anything that costs $10 for a 2 month supply will obviously not be quality food.

If you are buying the grocery store brands because it’s convenient, check out Chewy.com for food and treats. Our cat food, dog food, treats, dental chews, cat litter and toys all get auto-shipped to the house with free 2-day shipping. Score!

You’ll have to do your own research and consult with your own vet about your options. Just know that food is very important. Just like humans: if you eat junk food, you’ll feel horrible and wont live long. Pets are the same way. Some foods are the equivalent of eating 4 hamburgers at each meal. Make the responsible decision for your babies.

If we can’t survive and thrive on a junk food diet… why would they be able to?

Medical Care

The day you bring your new pet home, create a file. Include any receipts, training receipts, adoption paperwork, vet receipts and bloodwork results. Treat it like you would your own paperwork or your kids medical history. Keep it organized and easy to access. It’s quicker to navigate an orderly folder than a ruffle through a junk drawer in case of an emergency. And sometimes, minutes couldn’t mean life or death.

Internet Pet Care

As any human doctor would tell their patient: ‘Stay off WebMD’…..

Any veterinarian would say ‘Stop Googling pet health questions.

You could honestly be putting your pet’s life at risk by relying on the internet to ‘troubleshoot’ their medical problems or find ‘alternative care methods.’

Baking soda will not keep your dog from getting infested with fleas and raw eggs will not cure a dog of worms. There are a few at-home remedies that really work, but ask your vet first. We had so many pet parents come in with a sick puppy that they had tried to heal with tips online. A few very unfortunate pets actually lost their lives from misguided internet ‘miracle cures’.

When in doubt, call and speak to your veterinarian about what’s going on. Any decent vet will tell you if you need to bring your pet in for a visit or if you can do anything about the situation at home. Listen to your vet- if they say you need to come in, make it a priority.

Trusting Your Veterinarian

If you are going to be a responsible pet owner, you need to have a very open relationship with a veterinarian that you trust. Don’t just go to the local vet ‘everyone loves’ or ‘because it has been there forever’. Go in for a ‘trial visit’ and see if you trust them. You can usually tell with how the vet greets your dog and how quickly they try to sell you products and services.

I know of some super sketchy, super snake-y vets who will change their opinion of products based on what makes them the most money. However, I also know of some vets that try to save you money by suggesting at-home treatments, alternative methods and natural options.

My mom’s chocolate lab, Snickers, had to be euthanized recently because of severe joint degeneration. If we had a trustworthy vet when she was younger, we could have started her on medications and prevented some of her pain. Instead, they suggested we euthanize her at 5 years old. She lived to be 11 (only because our current vet helped to manage her pain naturally).

Snickers is on the right (this is shortly after stem cell surgery, so that’s why her knee is shaved.

The vet that is real with you is the vet that actually cares about your pet as much as you do. That vet will work with you to make sure that ya’ll have a wellness plan that will allow your pet to live the longest, healthiest life possible.

Vaccines

This all just goes back to having a trustworthy veterinarian in your life. One of the vets I took Alli to was alllll about vaccines. Some were required every 6 months, some were annual… I felt like we were at the vet all the time for shots and bloodwork. My wallet agreed.

Once I went to a vet that I actually trusted, I realized that the first vet was just bleeding me for money. Our current vet is the absolute queen and she loves my pups like they’re her own. She hates giving them shots, so she doesn’t give them anything that isn’t necessary.

We get a 3 year Rabies vaccine, 3 year DAPP (Distemper, Adenovirus, Parainfluenza, and Parvovirus), annual Bordetella and annual Leptospirosis (only because our pups are outdoorsy). We do annual senior bloodwork and intestinal parasite checks.

Our cats also get just the minimal recommended vaccines for indoor cats- which is great because they aren’t the best travelers.

Wellness Visits and Exams

A lot of people will ignore the veterinarian’s postcards and delay the visit as long as possible. Please don’t. The most important part of an annual Wellness check-up is the actual exam. If you catch an illness or condition early enough, you have a much higher chance of curing or controlling it. Our vet knows our pets so well that if they get a tiny lump or change in behavior, they notice right away.

We saved pets from cancer because the parents noticed a small weight fluctuation. We also lost pets to curable diseases because their parents put off the appointment stumbled across the incorrect information on Google and decided they were fine.

Prevention At A Young Age

None of our pets have any pressing medical conditions that we have to treat. We’ve really been blessed with great health for both of our senior pups.

Cooper is a labrador retriever and that breed is known for getting arthritis in their hips and knees. Alli is a mixed mutt but I still worry about her joint health. Our vet suggested that we start them joint support supplements as part of our pet care plan. It’s easier to get ahead of pain and prevent it before we begin noticing any real pain or discomfort.

Our pups get fish oil and glucosamine/chondroitin from every single day. You can also get the big bottles from Costco or Walmart. Not only does it prevent joint issues, the fish oil has cut down their shedding a whole lot. Make sure that you check with your vet to see if your pets would do well taking natural supplements like that.

Preventative Pet Care

Prevention also includes heartworm, flea, tick and intestinal parasite prevention. These are not optional. They need to be on prevention for their as well as your family’s safety.

‘He’s an indoor pet’…. just doesn’t cut it. Even indoor pets are exposed to the things that can make your pets ill.

Mosquitos carry heart worm disease. You are lying if you try to tell me that you’ve never seen a mosquito in your home.

Worms and parasites can live in potting soil… and regular soil that you can track in the house on your shoes. You and your family can actually get worms from your pets. Nasty, right?

One female flea can produce up to 50 eggs per day. I honestly don’t believe that there is a place in the United States that is ‘flea-safe’. Even if there are areas that are less likely to have a flea issue, ticks are another story.

Don’t risk a flea infestation or lyme disease- just prevent it.

Prevention is always the part of pet care that people think is too costly. Well, heart worm treatment, flea removal and lyme disease treatment is all way more expensive and troublesome. Not to mention, they may not be curable… and you may lose your fur kid.

Dental Health & Treats

Our general health relies heavily on our oral health. It is the ‘gateway’ to our bodies. You can have kidney issues, bad skin, heart conditions…. all from poor oral hygiene.

Dogs are no different. Except, it’s harder to keep their teeth healthy. They can’t brush their teeth, or floss. So you have 3 options: brush their teeth, use water additive or give them dental chews. If they’ll let you brush their teeth, do it! Some dogs don’t like toothbrushes, so you can try try water additive. If they’re jerks like my dogs, a dental chew is sort of your only option.

My dogs get one of these as their ‘Night Night Snack’ every single night. They are sure to tell me when I am late or forget giving it to them. I swap it up between the Veggie Dents and the Hextra chews. They like the Hextra chews more and they ‘do more’ mechanically to remove any plaque… but they are a bit pricier and take a lot longer for them to eat.

As far as treats, I just mix it up with whatever is the best selling and most highly recommended treats on Chewy. My creatures are insanely picky and have yet to turn a nose to the treats I offer. They get bored with treats if I ‘serve’ the same kind for more than week.

I know… they’re spoiled and I’ve created monsters. But they’re happy monsters. I say pet care… but I mean buttlering…

Behavior

This fits in with training, exercise, health…. but it’s an incredibly important aspect of pet care. People frequently euthanize pets because of their behavior. Destructiveness, anxiety, aggression. These are all signs that your pet is under extreme stress. As their pet parent, it is your job to figure out why they are stressed.

New baby in the house and now your cat started peeing on the floor? Well, for 13 years, that cat was used to being the center of attention and living by certain rules. Now that the baby has arrived, most of those rules have probably changed, you may have changed the location of the cat box, started buying them a different food because it was easier to pick it up from the grocery…. and almost certainly, the cat is now seen as an ‘annoyance‘.

I saw it all the time with new parents, new homeowners and new marriages: what was once a cute quirk, trait or habit is now considered ‘annoying’. The dog used to sleep on the sofa, but now that you got new furniture, he’s not allowed up there anymore? Your dog has no clue why he is no longer allowed on the sofa. It’s a change to his daily life that makes zero sense. Being creatures of habit, any change can be extremely stressful.

That’s why I mentioned that you needed a pet care plan and you had to stick to it. It may not be as important on day 5 as it is on year 5 or 15, but it has to be an absolute. Is there any circumstance that you would start kicking your dog off the sofa? Yes? Then make that a rule from day 1.

Hunter and Coop watching a Bama game. Clearly no boundaries in our home

Our home is a pet home and they will forever be allowed wherever. No new sofa, bedspread or pillowcase will change our rules for our pets. However, not all homes are like that. It’s better to set expectations from day 1. It’s easier to set strict rules than try to change them.

The Causes of Stress

When our animals start to show the beginning signs of stress, we try to resolve the issue by checking our rules first. Then going down our ‘ladder of anxiety’…..

  • Have we changed the way we do anything around the house?
  • Are we gone from the home more often than usual?
  • Is there someone new to the household (pet or human)?
  • Could they be experiencing any strange, loud noises (fireworks, gun shots, construction)?
  • Are they getting enough exercise?
  • Are they showing any medical signs of distress (pain/lethargy/fever/vomiting/diarrhea/weight loss…)?

Anxiety Medications

If there’s not a behavior that we can change to ease their stress, then we will medicate with natural anxiety medications. I use lavender essential oil in an oil diffuser all day long, every day. We also use Feliway and Adaptil if we know something is going to freak them out in advance. (Thank god for these… they saved our furniture and sanity during our many moves a few years ago.)

Thanks to Feliway plug ins, these two are best friends. It was touch and go when we introduced them 3 years ago.

We also keep a pet-safe prescription anxiety medication on hand for extreme situations. Fireworks are an extreme situation in our home. We’ve learned to skip any natural stress remedies and go right to prescriptions meds. Loud music, drugs and patience are all we can do to get through New Years Eve without catastrophe.

We’ve never had to go past anxiety medications for any of our pets. However, I know of people who have to hired a behaviorist to fix very extreme anxiety or behavioral issues. There’s no shame in needing a professional. It means you care for your pet!

Please give your pet a fighting chance. So many people will get frustrated and give up before they actually have a chance to change. They just call the dog broken, annoying, old or psycho and call it quits. Just because they can’t talk doesn’t mean they aren’t trying to tell you something. Listen to them.

Final Pet Care Tips From A Vet Tech

So, anyone who was just considering pet ownership has probably changed their minds and any current pet owner is probably feeling horribly judged for their current pet care routines.

I don’t mean for either of those to be what you take away from this. I just wanted to raise awareness. I’ve seen horrible things happen to pets because their parents didn’t know how to take care of them… or even worse, they didn’t care.

You can tell that our pets are our world.

Animals are willing to offer you more than you will ever consider offering them. They will give you every ounce of loyalty, love and affection that they have in their tiny little bodies. The commitment they give deserves more than we could ever give them. The least we can do is offer a good, healthy pet care routine to keep them with us for longer.

They give with taking only little in return. They can cheer you up on the worst day of your life. Every day, they protect us, calm us, save us, and even love us when we can’t love ourselves. I wrote a bit about my life for animals here.

I wish every person would adopt a dog or cat or pet. People would be much happier and we’d have less homeless pets. But, I know we don’t live in a fairytale. Even if the only result of me writing this post is that someone takes their pet to a vet check-up, re-evaluates their pet care routine…. or decides to adopt a pet…. I’ll feel like this was a total success.

Love ya’ll!

-MJ

Pet care tips from a vet tech: make sure to find a vet that specializes in your pet's breed!

Disclaimer about Chewy

While I use Chewy.com affiliate links, just know that I signed up to be an affiliate after I wrote this.

One of my favorite customers at the vet told me about Chewy about 5 years ago. Ever since then, I have used Chewy for all of our pet care needs. I’ve turned everyone I know into a Chewy person too. Just because their company is really just that good.

Price, ease of auto-ship, free shipping… I could list all of the perks of Chewy. But, the real reason I wanted to become an affiliate and spread the word is because they’re people that love pets.

I had a bag of dog food arrive damaged a while back. The $95 bag of Orijen dog food had exploded inside the box. The box was damaged so it was most likely damaged during shipping. I messaged Chewy and in 10 minutes, I had another bag headed my way, one-day free shipping. They told me to keep the box with the damaged bag and donate it to a pet in need.

I mean who does that? They could have said ‘send us a picture to prove it’…. or ‘send us the damaged box back’. No, they just made it right even though it wasn’t their fault. That’s just one of my many, many pleasant interactions with Chewy.com.

They literally send out handwritten thank you cards and for random holidays…. what kind of company does that anymore? Basically no one… and that’s why I’m such a loyal Chewy customer and I hope you will give them a try. You won’t be disappointed.

I'm an INFJ- so I'm a walking contradiction with ADD and a heart the size of Texas. I live my life by the Law of Attraction and I love helping other people find inner peace.

2 Comments

  • Lisa Jones

    This was a great blog, I enjoyed it very much. I am a loyal Chewy customer and our house is run the same way. I am happy to say that we are practicing our pet care the same way🤗🐾

    • BarbedWireandLace

      Thank you for reading, Lisa!!! Chewy is the best. I almost didn’t add it because I was worried people would think I was just trying to sell something. But, it’s one of the best companies in my eyes. Chewy, Apple, BotaBox Pinot Grigio… can’t go wrong hahaha People try to shame me for spoiling my creatures, but I honestly feel no shame. They’re happy and they’re all going to live long lives!

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