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20 Easy Pet Care Tips

1. Keep your dog on a leash every time you go for a walk. Even the best- behaved dog can forget his training if he encounters an unfamiliar smell or sound, another dog, or a squirrel that simply must be chased.

2. Keep your cat inside all year round. Cats do not need to go out the way dogs do, and will lead longer, safer lives if kept indoors.

3. Turn your pet into an easy rider. Take your puppy or kitten for short, uneventful rides so he will become accustomed to the car's sounds and movement -- and won't automatically assume that a ride in the car means a trip to the vet!

4. Check your pet's water often. All pets -- dogs, cats, birds, hamsters -- need a steady supply of fresh water.

5. Give your cat water, not milk, to drink. Too much milk can upset Kitty's stomach.

6. Remember that dogs and cats have different nutritional needs. So don't feed your cat a steady diet of dog food, or vice versa.

7. Feed your pet a diet that's appropriate to his time of life. Puppies and kittens should eat pet food especially formulated for their growing bodies. Older pets need to beware of weight gain, and may need a different pet food than they enjoyed as younger adults. Discuss your pet's changing dietary requirements with your vet.

8. Treat expectant new mothers with care. Pregnant and lactating dogs and cats have special demands on their bodies. Discuss their unique dietary needs with your vet.

9. Get to know your pet's eating habits. A sudden change in appetite or thirst can be a sign that your pet isn't feeling well. If you notice something is amiss, contact your vet.

10. Groom your pet regularly. Make it apart of his routine and he'll come to expect it, may even welcome it as special time spent with you. What's more, you'll notice a decrease in shedding and an improvement in his skin and coat.

11. Make sure that all open windows have secure screens. Every spring and summer, house cats are seriously injured, falling from upper-level windows.

12. Only give your dog safe U.S.-made rawhide, rubber, or nylon bones. These store-bought bones won't splinter the way chicken or turkey bones can.

13. Never let your cat play with yarn or string. They could cause internal injuries if swallowed.

14. Don't assume that "doggie breath" is normal. Bad breath could be an early sign of dental problems. Mention it to your vet.

15. Choose the right spot for your cat's litter box. Your cat will be much happier using a box that is in a quiet area and offers both easy access and a little privacy.

16. Never give your pet chocolate. It can be poisonous to both dogs and cats.

17. Clean up antifreeze spills immediately! Cats and dogs are fatally attracted to its sweet smell and taste -- but it can be deadly if ingested.

18. Learn which common house and garden plants are poisonous to pets. Many plants you see every day -- including daffodils, marigolds and philodendrons -- can be toxic if your dog or cat eats them. Ask your vet for a list of poisonous plants.

19. Keep your veterinarian's number handy at all times. Accidents always happen when you lease expect them, so ask your vet for an emergency number -- just in case your pet requires medical care when the office is closed.

20. Please have your pet spayed or neutered! This inexpensive, permanent procedure helps reduce behavior and health problems -- and prevents unwanted litters. Remember, there are too many homeless dogs and cats already!

Cat and dog playing