The 1 Thing That Changed How I Think About My Pet's Health


Being a pet parent can mean learning new things all the time. From the

life lessons our pets teach us

to pet health news and research, sometimes it seems like the only way to learn everything about caring for pets is to just jump in and do it.

RELATED STORY: 5 Pet Health Innovations and Announcements You May Have Missed in 2013

So we asked these three pet parents and bloggers to share

one important discovery

they've made about pets over the years. Take a look at these tips from experienced pet caretakers just like you:

A Run in the Park a Day Keeps the Vet Away

Play is an important part of a dog's life.

Playing with your dog provides physical exercise and mental stimulation. It benefits many aspect of your dog's life from puppyhood to senior life. Play also strengthens the bond between dog and owner. My motto:ย " a playful dog is a happy, healthy dog.">


From Rosalyn Acero, pet parent to Sugar, a Golden Retriever who's been active and healthy well into her senior years. Follow her on Sugar the Golden Retriever.

Teeth Brushing is Not Just for Humans

One of the most important things you can do for your catโ€™s health is brushing their teeth. When I worked in veterinary hospitals, I used to teach clients how to do this, but I have to confess, I didnโ€™t start brushing my own catsโ€™ teeth until I discovered that Ruby, at barely one year of age, already had some mild gingivitis, despite being fed a healthy, raw diet.I closely followed the 4-week training program outlined in an exceptional video by the Cornell Feline Health Center titledย 

Brushing Your Catโ€™s Teeth


Tips for Brushing Your Pet's Teeth

I purchased aย 

kitty toothbrush and poultry flavored toothpaste

. (Do not use human toothpaste for cats. It contains too many chemicals that are harmful when swallowed.) For the first few days, I let Ruby get used to the taste of the toothpaste. I put a small dab of it on my finger, and she liked it immediately. She thought she was getting a treat.After a few days of this, I put a little bit of toothpaste on my finger and gently rubbed it along her teeth and gumline, just one pass over each quadrant. The recommendation is to follow this with a treat, but since Ruby loves the toothpaste so much, I would just let her lick another little dab of it off my finger. Now it was time to let her get used to the brush. I let her sniff it, play with it, and gently brushed it against her face for a few days in a row. Then it was time to actually brush her teeth. We eventually worked up to a 30 second routine. I also started the same routine with Allegra.I never thought Iโ€™d be able to brush my catsโ€™ teeth, but all it took was a little patience. At this point, it has become so much a part of our routine that the girls actually remind me on nights when I forget to brush their teeth!

Allegra and Ruby on vanity
Photo courtesy of and copyright Ingrid King.
From Ingrid King, pet parent to Ruby and Allegra. For more information on how to keep your cats happy and healthy, visitย

Never Dismiss Your Pet Seeming "Off" as No Big Deal

When we found Gracey as a tiny kitten at the dog pound, there was no plan to add a family member to our home. But that all changed the moment we made eye contact and I promised her I would do everything I could to allow her to live her best life. Gracey suffered from

food allergies and immune system problems, pancreatitis that led to transient diabetes, and eventually to diabetes

.We learned a lot in our years together about cat care and their special needs. Cats are hardwired to hide their illness as a survival instinct from their ancestors. So cat parents needs to look for subtle changes in a catโ€™s behavior. When we noticed Gracey sitting down a little more slowly, or reluctant to jump up onto the sofa, we had her checked out by her veterinarian.

You know your cat and can trust your instinct.

Even if it is just a feeling that something isnโ€™t quite right with your cat, you might want to have your cat evaluated.

Gracey wearing her Thundershirt and being evaluated by her favorite veterinarian, Dr. Teresa.
Fromย Joanne McGonagle, pet parent to Gracey, Annie, and Eddie, and blogger at The Tiniest Tiger, a blog for caring about cats, big and small.

What Have You Learned About Your Pet

that might help other pet parents better care for theirs? What has being a pet parent taught you?

Share with us in the comments below!
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