US pet ownership statistics show that nearly 80 million American households in 2016 owned a pet. This amounts to 65% of all households. 42% of all pet-owning households had more than one pet. It is estimated that $1288.50 is spent every year, per pet, on veterinary care.

Veterinary care can certainly be expensive, but most of us who own pets feel it is a small price to pay for the daily joy our animals bring into our lives.

Nonetheless, there are a number of things we pay for at the vet that could easily be taken care of at home. By learning about the basics of dog care and the basics of cat care (the two most popular household pets), we can not only improve the quality of life for our canine and feline friends, we may also be able to lengthen the time between trips to the vet or groomers.

Granted, there are some things we would rather have a professional do, but of the tips below, at least some will spark your interest and encourage you to be more pro-active about the basic daily care of your dog, or basic daily care of your cat:

Feeding

Feeding your pet is relatively simple. The first thing you need to consider is their stage of development, as kittens and puppies require different types of food and treats. The food packaging that you see at the store will have information about suitability for younger dogs and cats, as well as suggested portion sizes.

Suggested portion sizes are a good guide, but if your pet is putting on weight, reduce the size slightly or alternatively increase their amount of exercise.

Pet-owners often feel that wet food is tastier for their pet, but most vets actually recommend dry food. Some owners mix wet food with dry, but the recommended way to feed a pet is to feed them only dry food and add a tablespoon of olive oil to it.

If your pet gets sick, vets often recommend giving them some natural yogurt to calm their stomach because of the probiotic ingredients it contains.

It’s best to feed your pet twice a day if possible. If your routine simply doesn’t allow for two evenly-spaced meals a day, one a day is okay.

It’s tempting to spoil your cat or dog by giving them leftovers, but at the end of the day leftover human food can be detrimental to their health. There are a wide variety of human foods that are dangerous for pets, so it’s better to give them dog treats instead of scrumptious pieces of food from your plate!

Grooming and General Health

Unlike humans with our needs for cosmetic products and procedures to keep up with our appearance, your pet will benefit greatly from some standard at-home grooming. Groom your pet as often as possible, as this will save you the costly weekly trip to a professional grooming salon. There are times when it’s difficult to keep your pet’s hair in tip-top condition, particularly when you have a cat or dog who loves to roll around in the mud when it rains. Moreover, some breeds have coats that are difficult to maintain; particularly long-haired breeds. Still, having a regular grooming routine will definitely reduce the frequency with which you have to visit the grooming salon.

Unless you’re confident about using pet clippers, you’ll have to bring your pet to a professional in order to have their nails clipped on occasion. If you live in an area with a lot of concrete, you won’t need their nails clipped as often, as concrete and stone surfaces act as a natural nail filing surface. If, however, your neighborhood consists mostly of sand and greenery, you’ll often find that their nails grow very long, because even if your exercise your pet regularly, these surfaces are too soft to have much impact on their nails.

For those of us living in these urban environments, it’s important to make sure your pet gets the exercise they need. It’s sometimes hard to find a place near home, but there are dog parks and outdoor pet friendly areas all over the city if you look hard enough. With that said, it’s important to protect both your pet and yourself when interacting with other animals and strangers, so be sure you know what to do should your dog get in a fight or bite someone while at the park. It’s something no pet owner wants to deal with, but it’s certainly best to be prepared.

As far as general health goes, cats and dogs alike are prone to certain minor ailments. These ailments are no big cause for worry, but if left untreated, can become a bigger problem. For example, household pets commonly get what are known as ‘tear-stains’. Tear stains are the clumps that form around your pet’s eyes. They can appear in slightly different forms: sometimes they look quite like the pet version of a sleepy-eye; sometimes they can appear as red or brown clumps.

These stains are more visible on breeds of cats or dogs that are lighter in color, and are more of a nuisance than anything else. However, because tear stains are actually the building up of bacteria into a clump, it’s recommended to get rid them as soon as you see them. If not, the tear stain could potentially spread infection to the eye area. In order to avoid your pet displaying symptoms of eye infection, as well as the discomfort this will cause them, you should invest in a high-quality tear stain product so that you have the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’re covering all the bases where pet care is concerned.

Conclusion

Feeding, grooming, and general health are all areas that pet-owners should focus on when thinking about the basic daily care of their pet. Veterinary costs can be reduced by monitoring the daily health of your animal; and because they’re like additional family members, you no doubt want nothing but the best for your feline or canine friends.