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Sometimes life feels like a series of ever-mounting responsibilities – work ones, uni ones, family ones, health ones, house ones. It can be tough to keep track of ’em all, like remembering when your dentist appointment is and to set an alarm so you actually get up in time. However, there’s one set of responsibilities that you cannot – I repeat, cannot – hold off on until later, because it’s about someone else’s wellbeing, not your own.
That’s the responsibility you have for your pet’s care. Whether you’re a proud-as-punch dog mum or a cat person who likes that whole no-fuss, fend-for-yourself thing cats do, there are some things you gotta get done to keep your fur baby so healthy they can chase pigeons, mice and tennis balls all day.
We’ve come up with a handy list of hacks to keep across all your responsibilities as a pet owner.
Get a damn calendar
You may think only your nan still uses a physical calendar (“I’ve got an iPhone“), but they’re genuinely the best way to get organised. This seems stupid obvious, but sometimes smartphone reminders don’t cut it. It’s too easy to ignore them, just like you ignore Facebook Messenger notifications and people sliding into your Insta DMs.
Colour code the heck out of it. Put in mates’ birthdays with love hearts around them, handwrite your shifts for the week, and write in big red marker when your pup or kitty is due for an appointment at the vet, for vaccinations, a wash, a worming tablet, whatever. The red marker thing is important: red captures your attention immediately. So if you leave a calendar – get like one of those charity nude firemen ones or something – on the fridge and you see red you know there’s something you a hundo percent need to do today.
Hide medicine in homemade food
Make your dog or cat pill pockets! For some reason it seems like cats and dogs love peanut butter – if ya mix a tablespoon of milk, a tablespoon of peanut butter and two tablespoons of flour together you can make 12 pill pockets in which to hide the cure to any doggo/catto ailment. Store ’em in the fridge or freezer until you need them.
You’re also gonna want to feed your dog or cat their three-monthly dose of Milbemax, a broad-spectrum protection from intestinal worms. It’s both the smallest and most-easy-to-give tablet out, fighting off the gross squirmy things that can make both your pet and your fam sick.
Prep for a wash ahead of time
If you’re washing your pet pal at home, you’re gonna wanna have some structures in place to stop ’em from just jumping out of that bath immediately. Rather than getting on board with like shower restraints or whatever, why not give an Aquapaw Slow Treater a try. You spread their favourite treat into the centre and stick it against the wall and your doggo will be so busy trying to lick all the sticky food out of there he wont even realise he’s in the bath.
You’ll also wanna stop pet hair from clogging your drain: chuck a baby wipe over the tub drain, then plug the bath. When you’re finished all the hair will have been caught in the wipe, wrap it and chuck it away. Easy.
Brush your pet’s fangs
You should be brushing your best friend’s teeth every single day with a pet-friendly toothbrush and special toothpaste. Cat toothbrushes are smaller, softer and more flexible than doggo ones, and the special dog ‘n cat toothpaste is often flavoured with fish or chicken to make it yum. (Human toothpaste is bad for dogs and cats because it contains chemicals that may be harmful to their digestive systems).
If you can’t get your cat to stay in your lap for dental hygiene time, wrap ’em up like a burrito. Your dog might be able to get at least some of his dental health needs met just by laying into a rope toy, smeared in dog toothpaste. You can also give your dog dental chews to tide them over between brushes.
Help manage their vet fears
Some pets are afraid of going to the vet. They either associate it with unpleasant things like getting vaccinations, or just don’t like being handled by hoomans other than you.
The best way to fix that is to set up positive associations: to allow your puppy or kitten to meet veterinary staff and get lots of praise, treats and pats. You can also help associate the actions that occur in that space with treats, like having a friend open their mouth or check their ears, and then giving ’em a treat. For dogs, if they remain super afraid of shots/the vet, you could ask your vet to give the shot in the parking lot. They’ll be so busy wagging their tails at this new person, who between showering them with affection, suddenly gives them a small, quick prick (and a treat). They wont have time to be fearful or anxious and act out.
Reckon you can keep on top of all of that? You get a gold star.Image: Getty Images / Jaromir Chalabala / EyeEm