HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR PET
We look at how to provide the best care for your four-legged friend
By Amy Reisner
A four-legged friend in your home is like another member of your family. We talked to local experts in the Corridor about the best ways to care for your pet and tips to keeping you (and your pet) happy.
Adopting a pet is essentially welcoming a new family member to your home and although this family member may walk on four legs and have fur, your dog or cat deserves the same love and care as any other member. Caring for your pet is not a complicated process when you learn to address the important aspects: training, exercise, health and lifestyle choices.
Assuming you’ve already taken the proper steps to adopt your dog or cat perhaps from a no-kill shelter such as Operation Kindness located in the North Dallas Corridor, it’s time to move on to the important stuff — how to care for your pet.
Pet care involves much more than just picking out a cute collar and food dish. Owning and caring for a pet is a huge responsibility when you consider all the things your pet needs to live a happy and healthy life. Our local businesses and experts can help you with keeping them healthy, training, grooming, daycare services, pet-friendly homes and more.
Training Your Dog
Although training and discipline may not be the No. 1 thing on your pet care agenda, it is absolutely an important topic to cover. The initial interaction between you and your dog will set the stage for how he or she behaves the rest of his or her life. Put a halt to any undesirable habits or character traits your dog may have sooner rather than later. Whether or not your pet had previous training before he or she was found or placed in the shelter from where you adopted him or her doesn’t matter. You will still have to go through the motions of training your dog to be your dog, including teaching him or her your routine and what is and isn’t allowed at your house.
Oftentimes you can find a company that specializes in training dogs. One such company in the North Dallas Corridor is All FUR Fun. They offer in-home training as well as training at their facility. It is best to do your research and make sure positive training methods are used. Positive reinforcement will ensure lessons are learned and your dog has a good experience. Specialized locations like All FUR Fun will host beginner, intermediate and advanced training classes as well as more unique courses like agility training and competition training for show dogs.
“Dogs get sick just like humans; so be on the look out for any coughing or excessive sneezing or discharge from the nose or eyes.”
— Taryn Hayes, General Manager, Citydog! Club, Addison
A well-behaved dog is a happy dog, and just like humans, pets crave structure. Teaching and training your pup will ensure things go smoothly at home or when you go for an outing such as a walk in the park.
Exercise and Activity
Speaking of walking in the park, your dog needs plenty of exercise. Not only does he or she need to release pent-up energy, but exercise is a healthy habit. Otherwise, you might have a lazy or bored dog who occasionally tears up your furniture due to lack of activity. Dogs get restless just as humans do.
There are many fantastic locations around the North Dallas Corridor for a beautiful dog walk including Addison Circle Park, Vitruvian Park and the White Rock Creek Trail. Not to mention, dog parks are a wonderful spot to have your furry friend expend some energy. The Addison Dog Park and Wagging Tail Dog Park are both great choices to let your dog be social while getting much needed exercise.
Exercise for your cat is a little different. By all means, we don’t want to stop you from putting your feline on a leash and going outdoors — but we don’t recommend it. As laidback as they may seem, your cat needs exercise. The best way for cats to get exercise is by playing. Toys that rattle, jingle or tickle with feathers are perfect for your cat to chase. Locations like your local Petsmart or Petco have a plethora of cat toys, from feline jungle gyms to your average laser pen. These items will help your kitten enjoy his or her time in between naps.
Recognizing the signs that your pet needs exercise may be hard. However, pacing and vocalizing are two ways your dog or cat may be signaling their needs for activity.
You schedule check-ups with your dentist and eye doctor on a yearly basis for yourself and it is just as important for your pet to have his or her health checked regularly. Well-check visits often involve an exam and an opportunity for you to share with the veterinarian any concerns you may have regarding your pet’s physical or mental health.
Preparing for an office visit will ensure you get the most out of your time at the vet. Have a list of questions ready to ask to ensure that all your concerns are addressed.
“If your pet is healthy focus your discussion on parasite control: monthly heartworm, flea and tick prevention, dental care, nutrition and early disease detection — routine blood work and other diagnostic tests recommended specifically for your pet,” says Veterinarian Lauren Dennis of CityVet Addison.
Vaccinations and booster vaccines are common at wellness exams. You should talk with your veterinarian about which vaccines are needed for your pets and the recommended frequency. This may not be fun for your dog or cat, but routine checkups are paramount for a long and happy life.
The other side of the veterinary coin is when to schedule a problem visit. According to Veterinarian Jeffery Kunde of Bent Tree Animal Hospital in the North Dallas Corridor, any change in your pet’s routine is the biggest cause for concern.
“Common warning signs include whether or not your pet has changes in eating or drinking habits, or if there is any vomiting or diarrhea,” Kunde says. “Changes in their bathroom habits or weight changes also warrant a check-up.”
Your animal’s health should be monitored just as you would your own health. Unusual symptoms are definitely a reason to schedule a vet appointment.
“Anything out of the ordinary would be a warning sign,” says Taryn Hayes, general manager of Citydog! Club in Addison. “Dogs get sick just like humans; so be on the look out for any coughing or excessive sneezing or discharge from the nose or eyes.”
No matter what the circumstances are that warrant a veterinarian visit for your dog or cat, it is important to realize your vet is a great second pair of eyes when it comes to maintaining your pet’s health.
Grooming also contributes to the health and well-being of your animal. As a pet owner it is your responsibility to help your pet look their best, but grooming is an individualized process.
“Grooming depends on the type of hair your dog has, but generally dogs should be groomed every four to six weeks,” Hayes says. “If you have a long-haired breed definitely brush him every few days to keep him from getting matted. Regular grooming contributes to a dog’s overall well-being and a dog that feels better is happier, friendlier and more energetic.”
On the other hand, cats are a little more high maintenance and may require a bit of work on your part — besides dropping them off at the groomer. While your cat may do an excellent job of grooming herself, she may need a little help, especially if she is a long-haired breed.
“Cats generally do not enjoy getting baths or getting their hair cut,” Dennis says. “Your veterinarian and groomer can give you guidance based on your individual cat’s hair coat, size and temperament. Home care for your pet; whether it be brushing or bathing can help lessen the stress associated with grooming appointments. Desensitization to brushes, dryers, nail trims and grooming is best started at an early age.”
“Make sure you are able to take a tour and see where your pet would play, eat and sleep. If you have a well socialized dog, go for an open, cage-free environment where your dog could get the exercise and socialization they need to feel their best.”
— Taryn Hayes, General Manager, Citydog! Club, Addison
Just as the lines of communication should be open between you and the vet, so should they be between you and the groomer. This will result in a happier experience for everyone, including your pet!
As we mentioned before, cats generally keep to themselves. They can function in their normal surroundings when you are away from home. Dogs on the other hand require a bit more of an effort. Dogs need a lot of attention and playtime. This is something you may not be able to provide for them while you are at work. That’s where doggie daycare becomes important.
“Doggie daycare is a great way to socialize your dog and let them expend extra energy while you are at work or traveling,” Dennis says. “Daycares vary based on location and environment. Location can dictate whether or not they have outdoor access. Most have separate small dog and big dog areas.”
Choosing a doggie daycare is a personal preference, but there are a few things to consider in the decision making process. Visiting multiple daycares will allow you to take a look at various playing and feeding methods. In the end, it is all about where you and your dog feel most comfortable.
However, there are specific things to look for that should be obvious. They are worth mentioning though, especially from the perspective of a doggie daycare general manager.
“Cleanliness is a must!” Hayes says. “Transparency is also important. Make sure you are able to take a tour and see where your pet would play, eat and sleep. If you have a well socialized dog, go for an open, cage-free environment where your dog could get the exercise and socialization he needs to feel his best. Also, make sure the staff is not only friendly and attentive, but knowledgeable and experienced in pet care.”
Kunde added that the top things to look for when choosing a pet day care include cleanliness, vaccination requirements, separate play areas for small and large dogs, and convenient hours for drop off and pick up. Local doggie daycare locations like Citydog! Club located in Vitruvian Park are perfect for Addison residents and/or workers.
Pet Friendly Apartments
Living in an urban environment has its perks. However, since most urban living takes place in apartment communities, pet owners must take special consideration. Addison and the North Dallas Corridor has many such urban environments that can still be dog friendly. Addison Circle or Vitruvian Park, for example, are both high density luxury apartment communities, but also are very pet friendly.
When choosing where to live, Post Addison Circle Leasing Manager Kelly Babb suggests pet owners stop by the community in the morning before work and in the evening to see how many people are walking their pets. This will allow you to see just how pet friendly the apartment community is.
“Home care for your pet; whether it be brushing or bathing can help lessen the stress associated with grooming appointments.”
— Dr. Lauren Dennis, DVM, CityVet Addison
Apartment communities that are pet friendly, such as Post Addison Circle and VV&M in Addison, should offer a few basic amenities for your pet.
“It is important to find a community that positions itself as pet friendly,” says Brandon Hancock, Criterion’s development manager for Texas. “At VV&M we go beyond the new normal of having a dog park for the exclusive use of our residents. In select units, we offer private fenced yards that are perfect for dog owners. VV&M has even introduced doggie doors at some of these units so the pet can use the yard when the owner is at work.”
No matter what urban lifestyle you choose to live, you must consider your dog or cat. Researching apartment communities is a great place to start and communities in Addison and the North Dallas Corridor are sure to check all of your (and your pet’s) boxes.
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