Humans are easy. When we get sick, we know we are sick—we cough, we throw up, we sneeze, then we go to the doctor and get it all fixed up. There’s no miscommunication, no misunderstandings, and—most importantly—no way to mistake sickness for something more benign. Unfortunately, animals are quite different. Though our pets do have certain easy signs to check for, for the most part, they do not complain. For small ailments, it’s difficult to catch it and treat it before those small ailments become big ones, so you need to make sure you are performing near constant maintenance to ensure they stay healthy. Here are some of the best ways to keep your pets in good health.

4 Steps For Taking Care Of Your Pets

1. Keep them Clean

For some reason, many people think it’s perfectly okay to let their animals roll around in muck and then do nothing about it (something that’s especially common with cats). If you are one of those people, let’s get this straight: you need to bathe your animals regularly! When a cat or dog rolls through the dust, bounds through the mud, or dashes through the bushes, they are oftentimes picking up tiny parasites that latch onto their fur. Not only can they bring those parasites inside—and possibly cause an infestation in your home—pests like ticks, bedbugs, and more can also feast on your pets, possibly causing diseases that will result in expensive veterinary bills. With that in mind, make sure your bathing your animals at least once per month, so you can free them of their tiny tormenters. They may not thank you while you’re washing them, but they certainly will thank you later on.

2. Stay up to date on Vaccinations

If you’re an experienced pet owner, you probably already know this. But, if you’ve never owned an animal before, it’s EXTREMELY important that your animals stay up to date on their vaccinations. Like humans, dogs, cats, bunnies, and more are all at risk of diseases that could at the least cause extreme discomfort, and at the worst cause death. And, unfortunately, if you do not vaccinate them, you are inviting those diseases to procreate. In most cases, animals will already be vaccinated—especially if you are getting them from someone else; but, if you have a newborn, or have a pet that came from a bad home, you need to make sure they get their vaccinations as soon as possible. This way, your pet can avoid diseases such as rabies, parvo, canine influenza, and worms. Don’t let your pet suffer!

3. Exercise them

When it comes to exercising pets, many people don’t. Either they are content to let Fido lay in front of the fireplace all his life, or they are simply too lazy and uneducated in pet care to take him out on a daily walk. Now, if you fall in either of these groups, you may think that exercise is overrated, particularly in today’s society, however pet exercise is one of the most important things you can do to keep your pet healthy and happy. Not only can exercise help a pet live longer, it can also make your pet much more alert and content (especially if they are a dog). It has also been proven that exercising your dog can reduce the likelihood of digestive problems and constipation, while also warding of obesity.

4. Regular Veterinary Visits

It’s a well-known fact that you should go to the doctor semi-regularly for a checkup; after all, you do want to catch those scary diseases before they come about, don’t you? We thought so, and it needs to be the same for your pet. No matter what type of animal you have running about your home, you need to give him/her regular checkups at the Vet so they don’t catch a disease you don’t notice (remember, animals don’t always show sickness the way humans do). On top of all this, you can get some tips on how you should raise your animal, and possibly make it much happier in the long run. We understand that animals are always afraid of the vet, but you need to ignore that fear so you can help your animal live longer. It’s simply the responsible thing to do.

Jaime Flynn is a blogger and pet lover out of Cincinnati, Ohio, where he works full-time walking taking care of animals. If you want more information about pet health, or if you need a good veterinarian in Cincinnati, email him or check out Beechmont Pet Hospital (previously linked). They are one of the leaders in pet health, and should be able to help you further.