Five simple steps to being a great pet owner

(BPT) – Brushing your teeth and getting dressed in the morning are among the daily routines that are second nature to humans. But you may not always remember that your pets need regular care too – like avoiding potentially harmful table scraps, being protected from pesky fleas and ticks, keeping the sensitive pads of their paws safe from ever-changing weather conditions, and getting regular veterinary care.

The following are five, simple steps to help keep your pets healthy and happy from Cristiano von Simson, DVM, MBA, director of Veterinary Technical Services, Bayer HealthCare, Animal Health Division, and proud dog owner.
1. No table scraps

What can be better than a gathering with family and friends around good food – whether a barbecue, the cornucopia of a Thanksgiving feast, or all the wings and nachos that accompany a big Sunday football game? According to Dr. von Simson, although you may be tempted – and your dog or cat may beg – remember to stop yourself before giving your pet a table scrap, leftover or bone. “You may make him happy for the moment, but it could create serious digestive problems for him in the long run,” he says. “So instead of sharing human food, give him an appropriate pet treat.”

2. Pest prevention

You don’t like to be bitten by pesky bugs – well, neither does your four-legged friend. While you may know that fleas and ticks may cause misery and disease for your pets, you may not know that these parasites can be active year-round, waiting for their chance to attack and feed on your dog or cat. Continuous protection against fleas and ticks is, therefore, an essential part of pet ownership. But it’s not always easy to remember to use a flea and tick preventive each month. “Now, you can avoid the hassle of remembering to apply a monthly flea and tick topical by using Seresto, a convenient flea and tick collar that offers the performance you expect from a monthly topical, but in an easy-to-use form that kills fleas and repels and kills ticks on cats or dogs for eight months,” says Dr. von Simson. You can learn more about Seresto at

3. Protect their paws

Do you wear shoes when jogging on hot asphalt – a no-brainer, right? What about boots when it snows? But did you ever stop to think that your pet’s feet need protection from the elements, too? It is important to keep the pads of their feet cool in sweltering weather, which is why walks in the evening or early morning are best. And during winter, be sure to protect their feet from snow; sled dogs wear protective booties for a reason.

4. Don’t forget the water

A summer run on the beach, a fall trek through the woods and blazing your own snow trail are all activities that not only make you thirsty, but your pet, as well. So when you pack a water bottle for the day, don’t forget to bring your pet’s water bowl, too. “Your pet will be grateful for a drink of clean water, not to mention properly hydrated,” says Dr. von Simson.

5. Get an annual check-up

Just as annual check-ups are essential for keeping us healthy, regular visits to the veterinarian are vital to the health and well-being of your pet. You may think, “My pet looks fine, and has no symptoms, so why should I take her to the vet?” But since your pet can’t really talk, she can’t tell you when she is ill, especially if the “she” is a cat. In fact, according to the Bayer Veterinary Care Usage Study III: Feline Findings, a nationally representative study of feline owners, 52 percent of cat owners indicated they had not taken their cats to the veterinarian in the past year. “Because cats age differently than humans – with the first two years of a cat’s life equal to 24 years of a human’s life, and each successive year equivalent to four human years – annual examinations are essential to helping keep cats healthy and preventing potentially serious disease,” says Dr. von Simson.

Remember, pets need us, just as much as we need them. For more tips on pet care, visit