What care does my pet need?  Do cats and dogs require the same type of care?

Dogs and cats regardless of age require the same general basic needs: food, water, shelter, medical care, and  love.  Each species has different needs within the general basics needs.  Age can also determine what specific care your pet needs.  An kitten cat may be more active than an adult cat and therefore may need more toys to play with.  A senior dog may be less active and may need a diet change to help maintain a healthy weight.

Adequate food for all pets in the household. You should have a separate feeding bowl for each pet. Dishes or bowls need to be cleaned at least once a day. Food must be labeled with “nutritionally complete” for your pet’s stage of life as proven in AAFCO feeding trials.  As pets age, their nutritional needs will change.  It is recommended that you feed your pet a diet  that is formulated for their stage of life: Puppy/Kitten, Adult Dog/Cat, or Senior Dog/Cat.   Food recommendations may also be made based on your pet’s medical history.  The veterinarian may recommend a specific prescription diet for a medical condition or reduction in the amount of food you feed to help your pet maintain a healthy weight.

Adequate water supply for pets in the household.  Water bowls need to be emptied, cleaned out and refilled daily. If you have 2 or more pets in the house, it is recommended that you have at least 2 water bowls for them.  If you are a mixed pet household, you may need to get different size water bowls for your pets.  As a good rule,  dogs should have 8oz of water per 10lbs of body weight. So a 40lbs dog would need a water bowl that holds about a quart of water.

Adequate access for elimination of wastes.   Adult dogs need a minimum of 1 walk outside every 12 hours. Puppies need many trips outside because they can not hold urine more than 2-3 hours if they are less than 8 weeks old. As your puppy ages, the general rule is: your pet’s age in months plus 1 = the number of hours your pet may need to go out (ex. 3 months old = may need to go out every 3-4 hours).  Each walk needs to be at least 15 minutes long to give your pet needed exercise and a reasonable chance to eliminate completely. All solid waste needs to be removed and disposed of via septic system or in the trash at least every other day. If you walk your pet in public areas, be a good citizen and “scoop the poop” to keep everyone healthier.

Adequate size and number of litterboxes with easy access for cats and difficult or impossible access for dogs. This means scooping the litterboxes & removing solids once a day; completely emptying, cleaning and replacing fresh litter weekly (clay based litter) or monthly (clumping type litter), and providing 1 more litter box than there are cats in the house. For households with multiple cats, there should be the same number of litterboxes as there are cats plus 1 (ex. 3 cats = 4 litterboxes). The litterboxes need to be at least as wide as the cat is long, and 1.5 times the length of your biggest cat’s body. Covered litter boxes need to be scooped more often than uncovered, as trapping the odor in the box encourages the cat to eliminate somewhere that smells better, like outside of the box.

Adequate level of mental stimulation & exercise daily.  Dogs need to be brushed, petted, exercised and talked to daily. They need to play regularly. They are social animals and should not be left isolated for the majority of each day. Dogs need a minimum of 30 minutes daily of interacting (walking, playing) with their “people” for exercise and mental stimulation. Cats need to be brushed, petted and encouraged to play on a daily basis to maintain physical and mental health.

Annual physical examination by a veterinarian, and preventative health care (tests, vaccinations, medications) as recommended at the time of examination. Pets over 7 years of age, or with known medical problems need to be examined more often. Your veterinarian can give you specific recommendations for your pet(s).

Adequate parasite prevention and control. This means flea control and heartworm prevention as recommended by your veterinarian and CDC for your pet’s specific environment and condition.

Please visit our New Puppy Page or our New Kitten Page for more information about puppies and kitten care.

For information on pet related topics visit our General Pet Information or HELP! My pet is…pages.