Fleas are the most common external parasite that can plague pets, and they can lead to irritated skin, hair loss, hot spots, and infection. Fleas can also introduce other parasites into your cat or dog. All it takes is for your pet to swallow one flea, and it can to end up with tapeworms, the most common internal parasite affecting dogs and cats.
Year-round prevention is key, says McGeorge, who suggests regular flea and intestinal parasite control, as well as heartworm prevention.
Because some parasite medications made for dogs can be fatal to cats, talk to your vet about keeping your precious pets worm-free, flea-free -- and safe.
ID Microchip Your Pet
Lack of identification means as few as 14% of pets ever find their way home after getting lost. Fortunately, "microchipping allows for the pet to be reunited with its family," no matter how far away it is when found, Burns says.
About the size of a rice grain, a microchip is inserted under the skin in less than a second. It needs no battery and can be scanned by a vet or an animal control officer in seconds. Be sure to register the chip ID with the chip's maker. A current registration is the vital last step in making certain your pet can always find his way home.
Provide an Enriched Environment
An enriched environment is another key to the long-term health and welfare of your canine and feline friends, says C.A. Tony Buffington, DVM, PhD, a veterinary nutritionist and professor at Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center in Columbus.
Pets need mental stimulation, say the pros, which may mean daily walks for your pooch, and scratching posts, window perches, and toys for your cat. It means play time with you, which not only keeps your pet's muscles toned and boredom at bay, it also strengthens your bond with your four-footed companions.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Many dogs and cats in the U.S. are overweight or obese. And just like people, obesity in pets comes with health risks that include diabetes, arthritis, and cancer.
Overfeeding is the leading cause of obesity, says Douglas, who adds that keeping our pets trim can add years to their lives.
Because pets need far fewer calories than most of us think -- as little as 185-370 a day for a small, inactive dog; just 240-350 calories daily for a 10-pound cat -- talk to your vet, who can make feeding suggestions based on your pet's age, weight, and lifestyle.
A number of Delaware’s best attractions are animal-friendly.
The Cape May-Lewes Ferry gives you and your furry companion a chance to cool off amid bay breezes. Leashed pets are welcome on all exterior decks.
And Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton allows animals to hang in the tasting room. The brewery tour is humans only.
Shopping in Delaware is a tax-free delight, and that applies to pets as well. Check out the array of animal-accessory boutiques, including Critter Beach in Rehoboth Beach
State parks on the beach – Cape Henlopen State Park, Delaware Seashore State Park and Fenwick Island State Park – are great places for pets to stretch out and get some exercise, but be mindful of the regulations. Some are open to leashed pets year-round. Others limit pets during the height of the beach season. Download the Delaware State Park pet map for more information