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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.

8. Pets Need Dental Care, Too

Just like you, your pet can suffer from gum disease, tooth loss, and tooth pain. And just like you, regular brushing and oral cleanings help keep your pet's teeth strong and healthy.

"Dental disease is one of the most common preventable illnesses in pets," Ohio veterinarian Vanessa Douglas tells WebMD, "yet many people never even look in their pet's mouths."

It's estimated 80% of dogs and 70% cats show signs of dental disease by age three, leading to abscesses, loose teeth, and chronic pain. In addition to regular dental cleanings by your vet, "periodontal disease can be avoided by proper dental care by owners," Douglas says. Owner care includes brushing, oral rinses, and dental treats. Your vet is a good source of information about brushing techniques, oral rinses, and dental treats.

9. Never Give Pets People Medication

Medicines made for humans can kill your pet, says Georgia veterinarian Jean Sonnenfield, DVM. As a matter of fact, in 2010 the ASPCA listed human drugs in the top 10 pet toxins.

NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen are the most common pet poisoning culprits, but antidepressants, decongestants, muscle relaxants, and acetaminophen are just a few of the human drugs that pose health risks to pets. Human drugs can cause kidney damage, seizures, and cardiac arrest in a dog or cat.

If you suspect your pet has consumed your medication -- or anything toxic -- call the 24-hour ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. Also be sure to immediately check with your vet, and if it is during evening or weekend hours when your regular veterinary clinic may be closed, check for a local 24-hour emergency veterinary clinic and take your pet there for an examination. Many metropolitan areas have these clinics.

10. Proper Restraint in a Vehicle

You buckle up for safety when you're in the car, shouldn't your pet? Unrestrained pets in a car are a distraction to the driver, and can put driver and pet at risk for serious injury, "or worse," says veterinarian Douglas. To keep pets safe in transit:

  • Never allow pets to travel in the front seat, where they're at risk of severe injury or death if the airbag deploys.
  • Don't let dogs ride with their head out the window or untethered in the back of a truck bed. Both practices put them at risk of being thrown from the vehicle in the event of an accident.
  • To keep pets safe, confine cats to carriers, suggests Douglas, then secure the carrier with a seatbelt. For dogs, there's the option of a special harness attached to a seat belt, or a well-secured kennel.