Picking up after one's dog is extremely important, and cities throughout the region are instituting so-called "poop scoop" laws. In Buenos Aires, owners who fail to scoop can be fined, but there are few inspectors to enforce the law. As a result, the city ends up recovering some 50 to 60 tons of dog excrement every month. "In contrast, in progressive cities like New York, careless dog owners improve their behavior or pay a $500 fine," says María Ignacia Bancalari, president of the Sarmiento Society for Animal Protection.
Veterinary care. Experts say animals should have regular checkups (at least once a year) and should see a veterinarian whenever they show symptoms such as fur loss, skin lesions, difficulty breathing, persistent cough, behavioral changes, rapid pulse, vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, or any signs of pain.
Regular exercise. Just like humans, dogs today tend to be too sedentary, and many tend toward obesity. The solution can be helpful to both pet and owner. "Walking your dog and exercising together is better for both owner and dog than hiring a dog walker," says Bancalari. Many U.S. cities have established dog parks where the animals can exercise and socialize off leash. But only a few Latin American and Caribbean cities, including a handful in Brazil, have followed suit.
Collar and ID. Both cats and dogs should wear collars with identification tags indicating the animal's name and the owner's telephone number. Dogs should be on leashes to keep them from getting lost or hit by cars. Cats should be transported in a carrier, never carried in one's arms.