Ten New Year’s Resolutions for Pet Owners

Animal Samaritans SPCA would like to recommend the following New Year’s resolutions for Coachella Valley pet owners:

1. I will have my pet microchipped. This is a safe and affordable way to ensure your animal is returned to you should she get lost. About the size of a grain of rice, microchips are painlessly inserted beneath the upper layer of your pet’s epidermis. Once your animal is microchipped, remember to register her with a national microchip data base such as AVID.

2. I will update my pet’s vaccinations. Protect your cats and dogs from deadly diseases such as parvo, feline leukemia and rabies. Vaccinations are essential for indoor-outdoor cats, and dogs that frequent animal parks. Vaccinations are given on a walk-in basis, first come, first-served, from 9:30am – 12:00pm and 1:30pm – 3:30pm, Monday through Friday, and two Saturdays a month.

3. I will safeguard my home from chemicals & poisons. Snail bait, rat poison, weed killer—all can be lethal if ingested by your pet. How do you know if your animal has been exposed to deadly toxins? Be mindful of changes in her behavior. Uncharacteristically lethargic or aggressive behavior could mean something is seriously wrong with your animal. Foaming at the mouth, nausea or blood in your animal’s urine or stool are obvious signs to take your pet to the vet. Don’t have pet insurance? Consider this, a life-saving blood transfusion for your poisoned pet may cost you thousands of dollars.

4. I will not addict my pet to human junk food. Pets get diabetes too, and we all know how dangerous chocolates can be to our dogs and cats, particularly dark chocolate. Lean meats and vegetables can be quite good for your animal, so if you must feed them your food, give them the healthy stuff. Also, if you want to avoid creating a pet that begs while you eat, refrain from feeding her from the table.

5. I will spay or neuter my pet. Spaying and neutering has proven to increase the lifespan of your animal. It is also regarded by the animal welfare community as the single most effective way to reduce animal overpopulation, homeless, and the resulting euthanasia of neglected or unwanted cats and dogs. To schedule an appointment, go online at www.animalsamaritans.org, or call 343-3477 x106.

6. I will take a pet CPR class. What would you do if your dog were choking and couldn’t breathe? What about basic pet first aid, can you keep your pet in relative comfort and safety when your vet is not available? Animal Samaritans offers Red Cross certified Dog First Aid and CPR. Call 343-4326.

7. I will give my pets the exercise they need. Dogs, especially large dog, need their exercise. Your pet will be more loving and obedient if she gets the playtime she needs. Just like proper diet, proper exercise is key to raising a happy, healthy pet.

8. I will be consistent with rewards & punishments. Where resolution #7 speaks to your animal’s physical health, this resolution is for her mental well-being. If you are too harsh in training or your animal she will learn to fear you, and fearful dogs and cats make unpredictable, often aggressive pets. To earn your pet’s respect, practice positive reinforcement. Most pets, if treated well, learn to behave because they want to please their master—that you. Of course, never underestimate the motivating power of a tasty treat.

9. I will get my pet’s teeth cleaned. It’s not just a luxury for four-legged princesses. Good oral hygiene is vital for your pet’s overall health, and can add years to her life. It can also help with bad pet breathe, and ensure she retains all her teeth into old age. Call 343-3477 x106 to make a pet dental appointment, or schedule an appointment online.

10. I will say “no” to impulse pet adoptions. Pets are a major commitment and require a significant amount of time and money. So after watching “Marley & Me” this season, avoid the impulse to rush out and find that adorable yellow Labrador puppy you saw. Consider the type of home you have, the amount of time you have to spend with her, and who will be picking up the tab for her food, toys, and vet bills, not to mention picking up her poop. Remind yourself that this is a potential family member, someone who will be with you, and dependent upon you for the rest of her life.

Animal Samaritans SPCA, a 501 (c) non-profit organization founded in 1978, is committed to improving the lives of animals and people. As the Coachella Valley’s most comprehensive animal welfare organization, we strive to one day eliminate the needless suffering and abuse of homeless and unwanted animals. Programs and services in place to save the lives of healthy and treatable animals include prevention through humane education, low-cost and no-cost spay and neuter, low-cost vaccinations, low-cost dental care and pet wellness exams, microchipping, animal sheltering and pet adoptions. In addition, more than one hundred volunteers from our Animal Assisted Therapy programs visit disabled children from special needs classrooms, nursing home residents, and hospital patients, while our Animal Assisted Activities teams see residents of Juvenile Hall. More information is available by calling 760-343-4908 and by visiting www.animalsamaritans.org