February is Responsible Pet Owner Month! Our pets cannot speak for themselves, so it is up to us to take on that responsibility as owners. We are here to advocate for them and provide a supportive environment with plenty of resources, love, and assistance. It it more than owning a pet, it is about a responsible relationship. Pets are living creatures who deserve long and happy lives within a healthy safe zone. As pet owners, we need to be mindful of what our pet needs and deserves. Curious how? Here are 22 ways to be a responsible pet owner.
Can you commit?
Owning a pet is a major responsibility. Do you think you are in the right place for a pet? Do you have the financial means to care for them? The patience to give them attention? A stable home environment? These are all questions to consider before looking for a little friend. Ask yourself, can you commit? By evaluating your lifestyle and home life, consider what is best at this point in time.
Depending on the lifestyle you have will have some impact on the pet you bring home. If you are active and adventurous, a Border Collie may be better suited as opposed to a Shih Zhu. On the other hand, a stay-at-home person may be better suited for a Beagle. Not all breeds are for everyone, check your lifestyle and research the breed that would be the perfect companion for you.
Register your pet
Your pet needs to be registered with the city/county in which you live. It is the law. This is needed to control the amount of animals within a setting to document the population of pets in case of an illness outbreak; such as rabies. A licensed pet also helps in the case that your pet is lost. By looking up the micorchip/ID tag, you pet will show up in the system and can be returned safely to you.
Provide the necessities
Pets need food, treats, collars, leashes, ect. Set aside a pet allowance and use that to buy what your pet needs. Owning a pet can be costly so make sure you have the financial means to provide.
Make a schedule
Pets thrive on a schedule. Give them a structured routine that provides needed activities such as potty breaks, exercise, enrichment, training, etc. Get the family involved as well! Decide who will be responsible for walks, feedings, cleanup, and grooming.
Pet-proof the house
Put away all the breakable, sharp, and large items so your pet does not accidentally run into it and injury themselves or you. Place gates in areas where you do not want your pet getting into; such as a garden, work area, guest room, etc. Wrap up electrical cords and block outlets to prevent noisy pets from electric shock.
Build a strong fence in the yard
Make sure there is a large and dense fence built to prevent any escapees from breaking through the barrier. Walk the perimeter first and look for areas that need to be closed off for your pet’s sake.
Get them a bed
It is important for a pet to feel comfortable and the best way to start that is with their very own bed. Make it a relaxing area whether it is their crate, dog bed, or a temporary mountain of blankets, have your pet associate it as their spot.
Find the right veterinarian for you and your pet
It may take some time to settle on a vet that both you and your pet enjoy. Do not be afraid to try out other offices in your area. Finding the right vet is just as important as it would be for a human to find the right doctor. When you are comfortable with the vet, they should know all about your pet’s health history and records. Check back with your vet for follow up appointments and vaccinations.
Be welcoming and patient
When you first bring a pet home, give them time to adjust,. They just moved in and they need to get comfortable with the area they are in. Help them by giving them a tour of their home by showing them their bed area, their food area, the yard, their toys, etc. When introducing them to family members and other pets in the home, give it time and act accordingly. Learn more about introducing pets here.
When it comes to housetraining, it should be structured the way you want it to be. Whatever method you choose to practice, make it consistent and have everyone in the family participate. Set house rules. Teach your dog from the beginning what is and is not appropriate behavior. If something is “OK” today, your puppy will think it’s OK forever.
Get your loved ones involved
Make sure every member of the family is aware of the rules you’ve set. Consistency is key to being a responsible pet owner. Familiarize your pet to your circle of loved ones and have them keep up the training of your pet.
Schedule regular check-ups
Keep up with your pet’s health with annual checkups. Ensure that your pet is given the means to stay healthy and happy with their regular check-ups. Consistent vet visits can prevent health problems and/or catch those problems before it’s too late.
Vaccinate your pet
Make sure your pet is up-to-date on their vaccinations and keep a copy of their records handy. Vaccinations help to combat spreading of diseases and prevent your pet from catching something that could have been avoided. You will be a responsible pet owner if you help combat the overpopulation of pets. With those yearly vet visits, make sure that your pet is getting their needed vaccination.
Prevent disease by knowing the breed’s health risks
Every breed is different. You need to be aware of the common health problems that breed is susceptible to, how to prevent them, and how to recognize their onset. Depending on where you live, your dog could be at risk for diseases as well. Ask your vet for prevention tips and how to care for your pet if they are ill. Read about cat health problems post here.
Keep your pet groomed
Some breeds require constant brushing while others just need a comb through every few days or weeks. It is important to clip their nails to prevent injury. Pets need their teeth cleaned regularly to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Give your pet a bath as often as their breed requires it. Ask your vet for more information on grooming care for your pet.
Get your pet exercised
Pets need a well-balanced diet and plenty of exercise. Avoid large and hefty treats if your pet is not burning it off. Takin daily walks will stimulate your pet’s mind and provide much needed movement into their day. If you can, set aside some time each day for play sessions. It’s a fun activity between you and your pet. It provides an outlet for your pet’s energy and gets them thinking. Learn about cat exercises in our previous blog post.
Train Your Pet
Pet training is necessary for a structured household and obedient peta. It will make your life easier and will strengthen that owner/pet bond. Expose your dog to different people and settings regularly. Obedience classes can be a great experience for you and your dog. Follow #dogtraining on social media to learn what training methods work for you and your pet; or learn about training in our previous blog posts 5 Steps to Safely Train Your Dog to Run With You
ID & microchip your pet
A pet should always wear an identification tag with your name, address, and phone number at all times. Microchips are a way to permanently identify your pet. This is a way it can be useful in recovering your lost companion. As a responsible pet owner, this is an important tip to remember.
Prepare for a disaster
Just as you have a disaster plan for you and your family, include your pet in it as well. Make an emergency kit with clean water, food, and their first aid necessities. Look into evacuation shelters in your area that allow pets like yours to take shelter with you.
Have an emergency contact
Enlist a family member or friend, ideally someone your pet knows, to take care of them in case of illness, hospitalization, or other emergencies. Leave a list of general care instructions in a safe place. Have a bag ready for your pet that has all their needs.