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From guide dogs that help people with their mobility and access to family companions, pets have become important members in over half of American households today. Pets can help us cope with stress, stay physically fit, and improve our mood. Due to the special role that pets play in our lives, it is important that we do our part to keep the animals we love safe, healthy, and happy.

Keeping your pets safe year-round from various ailments such as ticks, heat stroke and parasites like tapeworm begins with education. Learning about the risks and symptoms of these hazards and taking the appropriate measures  to prevent negative health effects on your pets is often enough to keep them healthy.

The more information you have about keeping pets in good shape, the easier it is to avoid unexpected – and sometimes expensive – veterinarian visits. Consider pet health insurance to cover these bills, protect your wallet, and facilitate access to the care your pet needs. Pets can also get lost during emergency situations; having a clear pet emergency plan can help keep chaos at bay.

Additionally, the American Red Cross offers pet first-aid courses at its local offices and pet-specific disaster & travel tips. You can even create your own pet first-aid kit to ensure that you always have what you need to keep your pets safe and healthy. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) also provides a number of resources to keep pets in good physical and behavioral health. These include a  poison control guide which identifies plants and flowers dangerous to animals, low-cost spay and neuter programs, and online advice for pet training.

If you’re looking for a new pet, find out which animal is right for you, and make sure you review all state pet laws – including those concerning pet waste and leashing. Obtain any necessary pet licensing before bringing your new family member home, and consider microchipping your pet for tracking purposes. When bringing a dog or other pet into the family, consider adopting an animal from a Massachusetts-approved animal shelter or rescue organization.

Guaranteeing the overall health and safety of our pets benefits them and in turn gives us less to worry about in the long run, so take some time to make both their and your lives easier.

We want to hear about your pets! Share your pet related stories and questions in the comments section below or tweet us, @MassGov.

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