How to Keep Your Pet Happy & Healthy

Let’s face it. You want your pet to be happy, and if your pet is happy you worry less about them. Here are some great tips on How to Keep Your Pet Happy and Healthy.


Our Four-Legged Best Friends (dogs)

  1. Proper eating (food and water)
  2. Exercise
  3. Grooming
  4. Lots of Love (don’t leave them alone a lot)
  5. Safe environment
  6. Regular trips to the vet
  7. Special treats or toys
  8. Learn to understand them
  9. Preventative medications

PROPER EATING (food and water)

Food – When it comes to nutrition, there are lots of products to choose from – at your local grocery store, pet store, r a veterinarian. Pet food from the vet can be costly but what is more important when choosing food is checking the labels: what are the ingredients? What is the nutritional value? Is there an ingredient analysis? Are there feeding guidelines? Is it age-appropriate (puppy vs older dog)?

Did you know your dog could have allergies? So choosing the right food is essential.

Water – Plain and simple – your dog needs water for bodily functions and dehydration! In addition:

  • More water than usual could signal an affection or illness
  • Medication could cause a drier mouth
  • Strenuous exercise or long walks means more water
  • Water deficiency can cause damage to organs such as kidneys and could result in death
  • Nursing dogs need more water
  • Water helps with digestion, especially if they are eating only dry food

It’s a good practice of having a bowl of clean fresh water readily available to your dog.


Dogs need to be exercised on a daily basis. They easily become accustomed to the routine. The benefits include better health and limber joints. Just like a child, at the end of the day, a tired pet will be calmer and settle down quicker.

Puppies may need to be taken out for several short walks a day while adult dogs should have at least 2 walks a day which can range from half an hour to upwards of an hour or more.

As professional house sitters, we always listen to what the owners tell us and walk their dogs accordingly.

It’s a win/win situation because you, as the owner, will also get regular exercise.


  • Brushing – Brushing your dog regularly will keep his fur smooth and tangle-free, eliminating discomfort. It also helps to shed old skin and encourages the natural oils in the dog’s fur.

It’s a great way for dog and owner to bond. Starting when they are puppies will help them to look forward to the brushing as it is one-on-one time with you.

  • Clipping – Depending on the type of breed, regular clippings might be in order. This is something you might consider having an experienced groomer do.
  • Bathing – Regular bathing can be done at home or at a doggie wash. There are many dog shampoos on the market that will be right for your pet.

Bathing puppy

Bathing not only helps to remove dead skin, loose hair and tangles, but it also keeps your pet smelling fresh and clean.

  • Teeth and Toenails

Teeth – Dental hygiene is something that a lot of dog owners overlook but shouldn’t. Having a regular dental routine will prevent loss of teeth, bad breath, pain, and damage to organs.

Did you know that a buildup of plaque can cause damage to organs such as the liver, heart and kidneys? This happens when the bacteria in the plaque enter the bloodstream. There are a few things you can do between dental checkups at the vet.

  • Gentle Brushing – once a day or at least a couple of times a week with dog toothpaste.
  • Dental treats – Instead of brushing, you could opt to give your pet some treats – we all know dogs love treats!
  • Dental toys – if neither of the above works for you, there are toys on the market that are designed to clean the teeth while encouraging fresh breath.

Toenails – there are a few reasons why keeping your pet’s toenails trimmed is important.

  • For example, if your home has lots of carpeting, long toenails can easily get caught.
  • Breaking and chipping can cause pain and distress.
  • Too long nails can cause pain while your pet is playing and running in the yard. They can also curl and become very uncomfortable as well as painful while walking.

You can learn to do this yourself, or if you already take your dog for regular grooming, make sure you include this as part of the routine.


Dogs, like humans, love physical contact, hugs, petting, and lots of love! Dogs that are loved:

  • Display loyalty
  • Learn how to interact with other animals and humans
  • Love to spend time with us
  • Will share their toys with us – love to play tug of war
  • Are content to snuggle up to us during quiet moments

Did you know there are also benefits to us? Humans benefit from loving their dogs by making us:

  • Less lonely
  • More apt to exercise
  • Feel calmer and less stressed
  • Spend less time on our needs and focus more on our pets
  • Lowers our risk of death by keeping our blood pressure level
  • Makes us more interactive and social with others

So by bestowing our dog with lots of affection, we are getting plenty of benefits too!


Keeping our dog safe is another way to keep him or her happy. There are many simple things we can do to keep our dogs safe. For example:

  • Not leaving windows open on top levels of homes where they could jump out
  • Not leaving poisonous chemicals or plants within their reach
  • Giving them safe and dry shelter
  • Making sure they have safe toys to play with
  • Providing an area where they can use the toilet, depending on their needs and frequency
  • Providing a safe place where they can go when afraid (such as thunderstorms)
  • Providing a large, comfortable, and ventilated rest area

Dog at the vets


Getting your dog used to going to the vet is a good idea.

  • Regular checkups are important, even if it is just once a year (in case they have fleas, ticks, rabies, etc.)
  • You know there is something wrong with your dog but you are not sure what it is
  • Sometimes symptoms are not readily visible (our daughter’s Saint Bernard died of a flipped stomach but there were no warnings)
  • You learn important information which may come in handy
  • An older pet may develop issues
  • It may seem expensive but going to the vet could save money, but more importantly, your pet’s life


Just like children, dogs need to have their own toys and treats! On our house sits, I love watching dogs go to their toy baskets and bring their favourite toys to us to play with them.

Toys – Dogs need safe toys they can chew and toss around.

  • Keeps them from being bored
  • Have something to comfort them when they are alone or scared
  • Toys don’t need to be expensive but they should be safe such as a sturdy piece of rope to play tug of war with or soft toys that are sturdy and don’t lose their stuffing easily

Treats – When choosing treats for your dogs, it is better to go with natural or veterinarian approved. Typically, they will be nutritious and consist of allergy and hormone-free ingredients. Treats can be:

  • Given for dental hygiene
  • To reward good behaviour
  • Used for training
  • Helpful for better digestion
  • Helpful in maintaining a shiny coat


Dog putting paw on man's knee

Why should you take the time to understand your pet’s body language and their communication sounds?

  • It builds a more loving and strong relationship between you
  • Their communication will tell you when they are hungry or need to relieve themselves
  • Helps to understand their behaviour triggers – if they are scared or just need comforting
  • Helps you to know what their different barks mean
  • Changes in their behaviour could signal there is something wrong and a trip to the vet might be necessary
  • Alerting you if there is a stranger at your door or around the house or some danger

Actions your dog does to communicate with you:

  • Turning their heads side to side
  • Putting their paw on your leg
  • Running around in circles
  • Licking you
  • Nudging a toy toward you
  • Jumping up and down

By learning to recognize these behaviours you will have a better understanding of what your dog is telling you.


What do we mean by preventive medications and how important are they? Dogs are susceptible to many things such as fleas, worms, ticks, and dental issues, to name a few. Give preventive medicines to:

  • Keep dog’s teeth and gums healthy (routinely brushing, dental dog treats)
  • Keep them free from fleas by giving a monthly pill such as Trifexis
  • Guard against Distemper, Parvo (an infectious disease that attacks the intestines) and Rabies by administering vaccines
  • Avoid pregnancies and certain cancers such as uterine by spaying
  • Prevent heartworm transmitted by mosquitos
  • Promote healthy well-being by administering a daily dose of CBD

*CBD is not a medicine but it has proven effective in dogs who are anxious, arthritic, or suffering from painful ailments.

Our Other Four-Legged Friends (cats)

Cat in a basket

Not everyone is a dog lover so we must not forget our cats. There are several things you can do to ensure your indoor cat is a happy cat such as:

  1. Nutritious food and water
  2. Regular trips to the vet
  3. Stimulation and Exercise
  4. Grooming
  5. Scratching posts
  6. Toys and treats
  7. Comfy bed
  8. Good litter box
  9. Preventive medications


As with our dogs, it is important to provide the best nutritious food for your cats, and believe it or not, cats may not like to go in the water, but they should drink it.

Food – Cats need calcium, phosphorous and Vitamin D in addition to meats. Check labels for natural ingredients or find one that is veterinarian approved. Dry food is inexpensive and convenient, especially for the busy cat owner, but wet food provides more water, proteins, fat, and fewer carbs. Also, check labels to make sure food is appropriate for the age and size of the cat.

Water – Not all cats like water which is a good reason to give them wet food instead of dry.

  • For every five pounds, they need 3.5 to 4.5 ounces
  • Water is needed for circulation
  • Water is needed to aid in digestion
  • Water is needed to replace fluids lost during urination or defecating
  • Water deficiency can cause damage to organs and could result in death

It is good practice to keep a bowl of fresh clean water daily for your cat(s).


It seems every cat I have come across hates going to the vet. I suspect it’s not the vet so much as it is being caged but sometimes it is necessary. Here are some great tips on getting your cat to the vet safely.

Why should your cat have regular checkups?

  • Regular checkups ensure all is well
  • Vaccines for rabies and deadly viruses
  • Sometimes an illness is not apparent to us humans
  • Weight management problems
  • Dental, ears, and eye care


Cats can get bored so providing stimulation and exercise is important. There are several ways, some using your imagination, to keep your feline pet busy. A tired cat settles down easier and an obese cat is an unhealthy cat.

Cat on a leash

  • Buy your cat a laser pointer – they love chasing the light and burn a lot of energy.
  • Walk your cat – yes you can leash train a cat. Being let outside daily will broaden their horizons and give them some space.
  • Provide stimulation with a window where they can bird watch, either in trees or a bird feeder
  • Catnip does wonders for cats causing them to roll, flip, and prance around before eventually tiring out. It also provides a tasty snack.
  • Interact with your cat by dangling a ball of string. This cheap form of entertainment will keep him busy, especially if you move it across the floor for them to chase or pounce on.
  • Did you know cats will chase bubbles? Trying to catch them will not only provide stimulation but exercise as well. And entertainment for you!
  • Cat trees, though on the expensive side, will keep your cat busy for hours. Make sure it is sturdy and big enough for your cat to climb.


Cats should be groomed; if this is difficult for you or you have an uncooperative cat (!), then a groomer is probably the best answer.  Some grooming tips are: 

  • Brushing – Routine brushing keeps your cat’s fur silky, smooth, and free of tangles. It also helps with circulation and removes dead, scaly unwanted skin and loose hair. It is also an opportunity to bond with your independent feline.
  • Baths – Cats don’t typically like baths but that shouldn’t deter you. Definitely give a treat afterwards to praise your cat. Here are some great tips to bathe your cat.
  • Toenails – If clipping the toenails is not easy for you, why not have a groomer do it along with the bath. You should occasionally check though to make sure there are no sores or wounds on the cat’s paws.


One very good reason to have a scratching post is to deter your beloved pet from scratching the furniture and carpets. Cats are natural hunters and this is a way to keep their claws sharp; it’s also a way of marking their territories. Scratching posts provide an alternative to your expensive furniture as well as providing an outlet for the cat to burn off energy.

Cat with stuffed toy


Toys – In addition to catnip and lasers, there are several other good toys on the market for the active kitty or cat that won’t break the bank such as:

  • A robotic toy that will have the cat chasing it all over the place
  • A soothing pillow
  • A feather wand for the cat who loves to pounce and play.
  • Squeaky toys
  • Cardboard boxes or a ball of string
  • Toy balls or mice

Treats – treats are a way of rewarding your cat for good behaviour or communicating with them. Treats should consist of protein and should only be given in moderation. Give treats to:

  • Reward behaviour
  • Train
  • Help with dental care
  • Remove hairballs – did you know you can give cats malt paste treats to help remove them


Well, we all know cats love to sleep so why not provide a nice bed so they can chase the mice in their dreams in comfort.

  • Provides an area all their own
  • Cats shed a lot – why not try to contain it in one spot
  • Portable in case you need to move it or take it with you

Don’t get discouraged if your cat won’t take to the bed. They will find someplace comfortable to sleep in.


Cats need a good sturdy litter box to do their business. Also, since it is cleaned by humans, it needs to be easily accessible to clean.

  • It should be large enough for the cat to turn around in, finding their ideal spot
  • Litter boxes are available in sturdy plastic, wood, or even disposable material
  • Keep the litter box in the same location
  • Try to find a private place for the litter box
  • Consider the age of the cat – is it old? does it need a lower box?


Cats can be plagued with many ailments during their lifetime so, in addition to an annual checkup at the vet, there are certain measures you can take to ensure your pet stays healthy. 

  • Fleas and Heartworm (parasitic worms spread through mosquitos) medication, especially in warmer climates
  • Vaccines for rabies, others such as FVRCP (3 core vaccines in 1); FVP (highly infectious with a high mortality rate in kittens), FHV-1 (upper respiratory infection), and FCV (upper respiratory and gingivitis)
  • Dental treats
  • Neutering to guard against unwanted pregnancies as well as mammary cancer for females; for males, it helps with aggressive behaviour, wandering the neighbourhood, and sexual behaviours
  • Promote healthy well-being by administering a daily dose of CBD

*CBD is not a medicine but it has proven effective in cats who are anxious, arthritic, or suffering from painful ailments.

Final Thoughts

Caring for our furry friends and keeping them happy is not a light job. They deserve the best you can provide for them. In return, they will be loyal, loving and become great companions – certainly a benefit for all.

Do you have any great tips to add? Please share in the comments below.

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