As pet owners, we all want the best for our animal family members. Every pet owner cares deeply that their animal companions have all the care and supplies they require to live happy and healthy lives as pets.
It takes more than just filling the pet’s water bowl, walking the dog, and cleaning the litter box to properly care for a pet.
To help pet owners be the best possible pet parents, we’ve created a list of pet care requirements in honor of Responsible Pet Owner Month
Spend some time training your dog.
Training your dog is a responsibility that comes with being a responsible canine pet parent.
A continuous responsibility for pet owners is dog training. Dogs need to be trained so they know what to do, according to Zazie Todd, PhD, a professional dog trainer and the founder of Companion Animal Psychology. “Dogs don’t come already knowing how we would like them to behave,” she adds.
In addition to aiding in the development of good canine manners, obedience training is essential for maintaining your dog’s happiness, health, and safety.
Teaching a dog to come when called is crucial since it can stop them from wandering off or darting into traffic, according to Todd. Dogs can be trained to cope with situations like going to the vet that they might otherwise find frightening.
Dog training also helps stimulate your dog’s mind and body. According to Todd, “Training using positive reinforcement is also a fun enrichment activity for dogs and a method to engage their brain.” With positive reinforcement training, you’ll compliment and/or give your pup goodies when they follow the intended cue.
You should be including dog training in your daily schedule as a good pet parent. You can develop routines that maintain your dog’s manners in tip-top shape, such as making them sit before meals or teaching them to wait for you to walk through doorways rather than bolting through.
Set Aside Time For Fun Play.
The link between you and your pet can only be cultivated and strengthened through play. In addition to giving your pet a constructive outlet for their energy, it enables you to develop a pleasant and positive relationship with them.
Shermaine Wilson Cox, DVM, an Atlanta-based veterinarian, explains that play helps prevent pets from becoming bored, upset, and behaving badly.
As a good pet owner, you should schedule daily active playtime with your pet. Dogs are companion animals, so it’s beneficial for their mental health to have pleasant interactions with their humans, according to Dr. Jim Carlson, DVM, CVA, CVTP, owner of Riverside Animal Clinic McHenry and Grove Animal Hospital & Holistic Center in Chicago’s Northwest Suburbs.
You will need to determine what gets your pet moving because not all pets love the same kinds of activity. This implies that you must try out many cat toys and dog toys before you discover what they enjoy.
Walk your dog every day.
The exercise and socializing schedule of your dog should include frequent dog walks. You need to have the time to walk your dog every day if you want to be a good pet parent.
Every dog requires regular walks, although the frequency and duration vary from dog to dog. Some dogs could prefer quick walks to go potty and then want to come back inside, while other dogs can want longer runs to expend all of their energy. Todd advises including games like fetch in the dogs’ everyday routines as well as other activities like agility, dock diving, or nose work.
Planning outside outings with your dog should take into account the significance of utilizing a dog leash. It helps other pet parents who might have reactive or fearful dogs to walk their puppies without worrying about your dog approaching without permission, as well as keeping your dog safe and under control.
Additionally crucial is off-leash time. Dogs should spend some time off-leash, says Todd, both for exercise and because it allows them the freedom to decide what to do for a bit.
However, you must guarantee that this time off-leash occurs in a secure setting. According to Todd, you will need to select a location where it is appropriate and legal for your dog to be running around because leash laws varies from place to place.
You may accomplish this by taking them to a dog beach, dog park, or hiking route. Just keep in mind to show consideration for other pet owners and never presume that your dog is free to approach other pets uninvited.
Additionally, you should ensure that your dog is taught to return to you and obey commands even when off-leash.
Clean Up After Your Pet
You are accountable for your pet and any messes they produce as their owner.
Always carry dog poop bags with you when you take your dog for a walk so you can clean up any mess he makes on the sidewalk or in a neighbor’s lawn. There are many dog waste bag dispensers that may be immediately attached to your dog’s leash, so there is no justification for not picking up after your dog.
Keeping sidewalks clean and preventing the spread of disease are both reasons why picking up after your dog is a crucial pet parent duty.
A conscientious pet owner always makes sure to empty the cat litter box on a daily basis if they have a cat.
To replicate the sand or soil that a cat would naturally use to bury their waste, it is preferable to use an unscented, natural cat litter. According to Dr. Carlson, scented litters were created for our benefit, not the advantage of the cats. Using a more natural litter helps reduce bacteria and give natural deodorizers. In the litter box, scents caused by bacteria are typical.
In addition to having a certificate in feline behavior from International Cat Care, Todd advises that the litter box be cleaned carefully and replenished with fresh litter at least once a week.
Todd advises using a pet-safe detergent that doesn’t have a strong fragrance that cats can find repulsive when cleaning.
Ensure That Your Pet Is Well-groomed
A key aspect of being a good pet owner is making sure that your pet is well maintained. A pet that is well-groomed, from their coat to their nails, helps to guarantee their health.
“Pets should regularly be bathed using shampoos and conditioners that are formulated just for them, according to the label. Follow the indicated instructions and thoroughly rinse the skin and coat, advises Dr. Cox. “Ear cleanser that is licensed for use on dogs and cats should be used to clean ears. The accumulation of dirt and debris that could cause ear infections will be prevented by routine ear cleaning.
Being a responsible pet owner includes making sure that your pet is well-groomed. A well-groomed pet helps to guarantee a healthy pet from their coat to their nails.
“Pets should have regular baths using shampoos and conditioners that are formulated just for them. Follow the instructions on the bottle, and make sure to completely rinse the skin and coat, advises Dr. Cox. “Ear cleaning meant for dogs and cats should be used to clean ears. Cleaning your ears regularly will prevent the accumulation of dirt and debris that could cause ear infections.
Additionally, you should frequently examine the length of your pet’s nails to make sure they are healthy. “As a veterinarian, excessive nails are one of the first things I notice,” explains Dr. Carlson.
Your pet may experience a great deal of pain and discomfort due to overgrown nails. According to Dr. Carlson, problems with overgrown nails can occur throughout the body, particularly in the back and hips. The feet are the first thing I check when a pet is brought in with pain complaints. The pet’s posture and how the pet moves following the nail trim should also be considered when doing an even nail trim, in addition to the nail itself.
Contact your veterinarian; they are always willing to assist if your pet does not take well to having their nails clipped.
Don’t compromise on microchipping your pet.
You should do everything in your power as a pet owner to make sure your pet is clearly identified. There are many ways you can make sure your pet never gets lost, from ID bands on their collars to GPS tracking tools.
No matter how diligent you are in providing for your pets, there is still a danger that they could go missing. It happens all too frequently, and while collars, tags, and GPS monitoring systems can be useful, a microchip is the best and most long-lasting solution to keep your pet safe in case it gets lost.
Sadly, one in three pets will become misplaced at some point in their lives, according to Dr. Cox. Although collars and tags are frequently worn by dogs, they can come off and cause the animal to go missing. Pet microchips provide an additional layer of security to help you find your lost pet.
Having your pet microchipped significantly enhances the likelihood that you will be reunited if they go missing. “Microchipped cats are 20 times more likely to be returned home,” claims Dr. Cox. “Microchipped dogs are more than twice as likely to be returned home.”
Therefore, if your dog or cat doesn’t already have a microchip, please act responsibly and get one installed right away.
Take them to the vet on a regular basis.
You are accountable for your pet’s health as a pet owner, which includes providing regular veterinary treatment.
According to Dr. Cox, routine veterinary checkups will enable doctors to treat potential illnesses before they become serious.
So how frequently is regular? Dr. Cox advises that adult dogs and cats visit a veterinarian every year for a thorough examination and bloodwork.
It is advised to schedule checkups with your veterinarian every six months if you have an elderly dog or cat. Senior dogs and cats require biennial examinations, according to Dr. Carlson. This will enable you to identify changes in your pet’s health more promptly and ensure that they continue to enjoy a long and healthy life into old age. Compared to humans, pets can age many years in just six months.
Aside from the necessity of yearly checkups, there are other occasions when you might want to make an appointment with your vet. According to Dr. Cox, “Adult pets may need annual vaccines in addition to routine medical checkups, depending on their age and lifestyle, the area you live in, health concerns, disease risk, or travel plans.”
Maintain Your Pet’s Dental Health
Being a responsible pet owner means taking good care of your pet’s teeth.
Periodontal disease can develop as a result of poor oral hygiene in your pet, endangering not just their mouth but also their general health.
According to Dr. Cox, periodontal disease is brought on by a bacterial infection of the tissues that surround the teeth, which ultimately results in the destruction of the soft tissue and bone.
When the surrounding tissue and bone are damaged, teeth start to become loose and can even start to fall out, according to Dr. Cox. A bacterial infection in compromised tissue or bones increases your pet’s risk of developing heart, lung, liver, or kidney problems.
Schedule yearly dental cleanings with your veterinarian if you wish to maintain the oral health of your pet. Dental cleanings performed under general anesthesia are crucial for a number of reasons, according to Dr. Cox.
“They make it possible for the veterinarian to do a thorough oral examination, which is otherwise challenging while the pet is fully awake. The vet can examine the pet for tooth fractures, oral masses, loose teeth, foreign objects, gingivitis, and loose teeth. According to Dr. Cox, a thorough teeth cleaning will remove tartar accumulation from the mouth and aid to stave off gingivitis, bad breath, and periodontal disease.
Regular brushing helps keep your pet’s teeth and gums healthier in between professional cleanings. Dr. Cox advises pet owners to use specially formulated dog or cat toothpaste at least three times per week to minimize plaque or tartar accumulation in between yearly dental cleanings.
Dr. Cox advises using cat dental treats or dog dental chews in between brushings to help stave off dental disease.
Keep Them Free From Heartworms, Ticks, and Fleas
It’s crucial to look after your pet’s overall health, as well as to be aware of some common health threats and take the required precautions to safeguard them.
Ticks and fleas
Two of the most frequent [pests] discovered on pets are fleas and ticks. If fleas are not controlled, they can cause severe anemia, tapeworms, secondary skin infections, itching, hair loss, flea allergy dermatitis, secondary skin infections, and other allergic reactions, according to Dr. Cox.
Even worse problems can arise from ticks. “Viruses, bacteria, and protozoal illnesses can be spread by ticks. Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and ehrlichiosis are a few examples of vector-borne diseases spread by ticks. If not properly identified and treated, these illnesses can make your pet very unwell, warns Dr. Cox.
Fortunately, it’s not too difficult to keep your pet free of fleas and ticks. Owners can purchase a number of over-the-counter or veterinarian-recommended remedies to treat fleas and ticks, including shampoos, sprays, topical drugs, and collars, according to Dr. Cox.
Ask your veterinarian for advice if over-the-counter remedies aren’t doing the job (or if you live in an area where fleas and ticks are a problem); they might prescribe you a prescription flea and tick treatment that they think would work best.
Find out which choice best satisfies your pet’s needs by speaking with your veterinarian.
Heartworm illness is a dangerous condition that can have life-threatening consequences and is spreading across the US.
“Heartworms are parasites that mosquitoes spread. The larval worms enter the body through the blood after transmission and become embedded in the heart, lungs, and adjacent blood arteries. Dr. Cox says that the worms keep growing in these places and can seriously harm these organs before the pet exhibits any symptoms of the illness.
According to her, heartworm disease can cause coughing, exercise intolerance, breathing problems, fainting, and even sudden death.
To prevent your pet from heartworms, your veterinarian may prescribe prescription heartworm treatment, but in order to get access to the drug, you must get your pet tested annually.
As a responsible pet owner, you should confirm that your veterinarian performs an annual heartworm test and prescribes the appropriate medicine to prevent it.