20 Tips for Animal Care

Dogs, cats, horses and other animals all need care and when we take them in we are responsible for providing it. Some tips can help provide little extras. Making them comfortable doesn’t need to be a stress on their caretakers!

1 – Give your dog the occasional – once a week or less – special treat. A small cube of cheese, a small bit of ground meat, a bit of hot dog. It’s important to keep this small enough they grab and swallow, and something they like. If you treat them monthly with a pill for fleas, or have to give them medicine, simply press the pill into the center of their weekly treat. No more fuss trying to get the dog to swallow the medicine – he eagerly takes it and swallows as in his mind he’s simply getting his weekly treat.

2 – Horses can get the same principle – find something they like – for many it’s honey, or molasses or applesauce. Once a week put some in their feed or, alternately, in a large syringe. Give them the syringe (some will take patience to retrain them) and with something pleasant most of the time, worming with paste is less of a battle.

3 – Tired of the kitty rubbing on things? Make her a special little post with a small soft brush, found in most feed stores in the livestock supplies, securely attached. Get her used to brushing by hand first then put it on a small post – she can brush herself. This reduces hair, gives a shinier coat and puts her rubbing to one area.

4 – Give cats or dogs an occasional treat of a few chicken livers or soft food – if powdered medicine needs to be used mix it in thoroughly and it’s impossible to pick out. With horses, mixing it in applesauce or another wet treat often works.

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5 – If your pet rabbit is developing sores on its feet put a small (about 5X7 depending on breed) piece of untreated board in the cage. This gives him something to sit on besides the wire and serves as a resting spot.

6 – when you prune rose or berry bushes, give the “waste” to your rabbit. These offer vitamins and other benefits as well as something to chew and wear his teeth down on.

7 – When summer temperatures soar take 2 liter soda bottles and fill about 3/4 full (leave room for expansion) and freeze them solid. Place them in your rabbit’s cage, or in your dog or cat’s bed. Leaning next to this can reduce temperatures a few degrees, often making a big difference in comfort.

8 – When it’s hot give your horse a daily shower – not a full bath, simply rinse. This makes him feel better and reduces the dirt and sweat that attracts flies and mosquitos.

9 – Clean feed and water bowls regularly – this helps with health prevention as well as being more sanitary and less likely to attract bugs.

10 – Secure water containers solidly so they can’t be tipped over. Wire it to a post or other solid fixture.

11 – You’re travelling with your dog and find you forgot to pack his bowl – what to do? Get a 2 liter soda bottle and cut the bottom 1/4 off – will serve as a free temporary bowl.

12 – Use a clean, wide mouthed laundry bottle or a large empty butter tub to store a day or so worth of food for your pet while taking overnight trips.

13 – Keep a couple of “quiet toys” special for just travelling. With your dog or cat in the crate give the special toy to him only when travelling, keeping him occupied and less anxious about travel.

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14 – Get a small tool or tackle box – in it place a couple toys/treats, extra collar with ID tag, leash, copies of veterinary records (including rabies/Coggins/other information specific to species) in an envelope, basic first aid items specific to species. Have this, a container large enough to hold a week’s worth of food, a gallon jug for water for smaller pets and their crate easily accessible in one place. If there is ever a call to evacuate grab this and your pet to do so. With preparation there is never a reason to leave a pet behind to deal with flood waters or fire on his own. Most agree he’s better in a crate for a few days, even if it’s in your vehicle, than abandoned to death, panic or uncertainty.

15 – With digital cameras popular now – take monthly photos of your pet. Set a date – for example the 1st – and the 1st of each month take a few pictures of each pet. You’ll have current pictures readily available should a pet disappear.

16 – When travelling secure your cat or dog in the vehicle securely. An inexpensive way to do so is their crate. Alternately get a harness and a short connector to attach to a seat belt…in case of an accident it keeps your dogs in the vehicle and not bolting in fear into traffic.

17 – Keep food stored in a cool dry place – in a clean garbage can or other container. This keeps the food fresher and eliminates mice and other critters from snacking on the pet food. Feed a rationed amount of food, not free choice unless a pet needs to gain weight. Feeling but not seeing ribs, with muscle covering the hip bones and shoulders, is enough conditioning without pushing the pet to obesity which is unhealthy. Rabbits can maintain well on an ounce of pellets per pound of body weight – for a 6 pound rabbit that’s a measurement from a tuna fish can. Many cats can exist on the same amount of food – 6-8 ounces. Too much weight can shorten their life and increase veterinary bills.

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18 – Keep oils, antifreeze and other dangerous substances up high and locked away from the reach of pets and children. Antifreeze is toxic but sweet so some pets ingest it if found standing.

19 – An easy and inexpensive kitty toy – a rope with a small fuzzy or plastic piece securely attached. Hang securely in a doorway or open area – it swings and gets the prey drive going for kitties.

20 – If your dog is bored in it’s crate put a cup or so of kibble in a 20 oz soda bottle…leave the top off, place it in his crate. As he bats it around he’s rewarded with a little snack. This keeps him busy, mentally challenged and less likely to worry about what you’re doing or resort to nuisance barking and other bad habits. It also makes it easier for him to deal with being away from you.

These are little things, and not expensive to do. Changes take adjustment, but these can make it better for your pet and for you