RESOURCES & LINKS > CARING FOR YOUR PET
ARF recommends the following guidelines to help care for your pet and keep your furry friend happy and healthy:
Annual Veterinary Exams
Take your pet once a year to a licensed veterinarian for a check up. Wellness exams can catch many condition in their early stages when they are most treatable. Get your pet proper vaccinations - especially rabies once per year. This is very important, for if your dog or cat is not up to date on its rabies vaccination and bites someone, your pet can be taken from you and euthanized. Get your pet tested for parasites or infections (such as Lyme Disease for dogs) once per year as well.
Did you know that heartworms are 100% preventable? All you have to do is give your pet a heartworm preventive medication, such as Heartguard, once per month. Ask your veterinarian for the product he or she uses. Also, beware of cheap internet imitations! The only way to guarantee the integrity of the product. By consistently giving your pet his or her heartworm preventive once per month, you are ensuring that your pet will not contract heartworms. Heartworms can be transmitted through mosquito bites, and unfortunately heartworms are very common in the southern United States. In the greater Philadelphia area, heartworms can also be transmitted so protect your pet! It's worth the money to prevent instead of having to treat (or possibly lose your pet) later.
Flea and tick collars are a thing of the past. These days, you need a flea/tick preventive for your dog or cat, such as Frontline or Advantage. It's an easy to use liquid that goes on the back of your pet's neck. Lyme Disease, Ehrlichia, Bartonella (Cat Scratch Fever) and a host of other horrible diseases are the direct result of tick bites. Help your dog or cat help themselves by being a responsible pet owner and using flea/tick preventive products. Just like heartworm preventive, you should purchase these products at your veterinarian's office to ensure their integrity.
This may seem like an obvious one, but you must spay/neuter your pet. The whole reason that thousands of rescues have to work so hard to find homes for homeless pet all over the country is partly because of people who do not spay/neuter. There are also significant health benefits to spay/neutering, such as:
Did you know that unneutered males are susceptible to prostate cancer and enlarged prostates just like people? They also can develop an additional complication called a "peri-anal hernia" where testosterone enlarges the prostate, which pushes on the colon and causes the colon to become blocked. Once a dog develops this problem, it requires a $3000 surgery to fix it. Don't risk losing your dog to cancer, putting your dog (and you) through a $3000 surgery, or risking one of the many complications that can arise from issues with testosterone. Neuter your male pet! Also, it is true that dogs who are "intact" males (i.e. have not been neutered) can become dominant. They also can "mark" (stop to pee every few steps to mark their territory). Neutering your dog may help curb these behaviors, especially if you neuter your dog while young. Most dogs should be neutered once their adult teeth come in. Don't wait to neuter, get it done right away.
If you don't spay your female dog, you will experience a "heat" at least once or twice per year. What's "heat"? Your dog will begin to bleed, and unneutered males will start to show up announced on your doorstep. To avoid both of these unpleasant situations, simply get your female dog spayed. For cats, you absolutely need to have your cat spayed as soon as she's old enough (for cats, as soon as their adult teeth start to come in is the time to spay). When cats go into "heat," they cry all night like a baby, they walk like a crab around the room and they are generally not much fun to be around. Plus, did you know that cats can ovulate after having intercourse, even if they aren't in heat? That's guaranteeing a pregnancy every time they have intercouse. Just one unneutered male and one unspayed female can produce dozens of cats in one year, which in turn breed more and more. The reason we have so many unwanted cats in the United States (most of whom end up at shelters and euthanized) is that irresponsible pet owners do not spay/neuter. Beyond the issue of unwanted pets, females can often develop an infection of the uterus, and every heat cycle your pet goes through will increase her chance of developing uterine or other reproductive cancers. Don't lose your pet before her time, keep her healthy and happy. Be a responsible pet owner - spay/neuter!!!
Please Don't Declaw Your Cat
The basic explanation of what happens to a cat when you declaw is this: it's the same thing as someone taking your fingers and cutting each one off at the last knuckle. Ouch! That's what you do to a cat when you declaw. Additionally, since a cat no longer has its claws to defend itself, some declawed cats turn to biting and some also develop other behavioral problems such as not using the litter. Please don't declaw. All you have to do is trim your cat's nails once per month - buy a good nail trimmer at a pet supply store and just cut off the sharp tip at the end of each nail, right where the nail "curves." Provide a scratching post for your cat (put cat nip on the post to encourage your cat to use it). If your cat is using the couch as a scratching post, use a spray bottle and/or sticky pads to deter scratching (then provide a proper place to scratch close by). Please don't declaw!