February is Responsible Animal Guardian Month, also called Responsible Pet Owner Month. But no matter what you call this acknowledgement of pet parenting, we all know that owning a pet is not a right - it’s a privilege. And with that comes great responsibility.
Pets are companions that need love, care and devotion. So, whether you have a pet or are thinking of bringing one into your family, here are some ways to ensure that you are a responsible pet owner.
Treat your pet as family: When you bring a pet into your home they should be treated as part of the family. Pets - especially dogs - need companionship. They are traditionally pack creatures and need the warmth and love that comes with living indoors with their family. Don’t relegate them to a lonely space like a basement or garage. And while most cats are content to stay at home, dogs love to go wherever you are going. Bring them on outings. Take them to the beach and the park or wherever your family goes. More and more pet-friendly businesses as popping up to accommodate you and your four-legged friend. Also most dogs love to be included and ride in the car with you or the family.
Do household pet proofing: This isn’t about keeping our house safe from your pet, but rather protecting your pet safe from dangers that can lurk in your home. To keep your pet healthy you should research what household products (exposed wired and electrical cords, medicines, toxic cleaner solutions, certain plants, etc.) and foods (chocolates, grapes, anything with Xylitol sugar substitute) can harm your pet. Make sure these are kept in secure locations so your pet cannot get into them.
Be proactive about their health: Schedule regular visits with your vet for checkups, shots and just to stay on track with your pet’s health. Also set up regular appointments with a groomer. In between visits, brush your pet daily. It’s good for them as it re-distributes oils and makes their coat shiny. Plus, it give you great bonding time. In addition, perform daily brushing of their teeth, Poor pet dental care can lead to many other health issues down the road, including infections and heart problems. And don't forget regular flea and tick treatments.
Spay and neuter your pet: Studies have shown that pets that are spayed and neutered live healthier, longer lives. Plus, spayed a neutered pets are less likely to develop behavior problems.
Update IDs: Always keep an ID tag on your pet and consider getting your pet microchipped. Having up-to-date identification on your pet, as well as keeping hard copies of all that information in a file folder that is easily accessible, will help you find them quicker in the event they get lost or stolen.
Train your pets: Dogs must understand the most basic directions like “sit” and “stay.” They also need to know how to walk on a leash and behave in the company of other humans (like “off” and “no jumping”). And in the event of an emergency situation these cues could save your pet’s life.
Make sure they exercise: All pets need regular exercise to stay fit and to release their energy. Without it, your pet will begin to act out. Young pets that do not get enough exercise are more likely to develop negative behavioral issues that lead many to give up their pet.
Provide proper feeding: Get on a regular schedule for feeding your pet. You also need to know what type and food and how much is right for your pet’s size, weight, breed, age and any medical conditions they might have. Consult your vet about your pet’s food as needs change over time. Keeping your pet on a regular, portion controlled diet will help with weight management and prevent weight related health problems.
Socialize your pet: It’s important that your pet know how to interact with others - animal and human. Meeting new people and other pets improves the confidence of your pet. Plus, having extra playmates will help relieve some of your pet’s built-up energy.
Give them lots of love: You are your pet’s favorite thing in the whole world. They crave your your love, attention and care. So show them the love and devotion they unconditionally give to you. Pet them as much as possible. Reward them often with verbal praise.Talk to them - they love the sound of your voice (even if you are just chattering about nothing). It’s a good idea to carve out specific time each day to play with them or just to cuddle and show them how much you love and appreciate them.