Pets enrich our lives in so many ways. We naturally seek out their loyal nature and unconditional companionship. They remind us to enjoy the simple pleasures in life and to live in the moment. Bringing a pet into your life is a privilege as much as it is a joy. But, being a great pet parent is not without responsibilities.
Here are some things to consider before bringing a pet home:
Research breeds: It’s easy to see a cute puppy up for adoption and make an impulsive decision. But putting in the time and effort to research which breeds best suite your lifestyle will better benefit everyone. It’s important to have realistic expectations for the breed you select. If you’re looking for a jogging partner with lots of energy to burn and you end up selecting a breed more suited for being a couch potato, or vice versa, you may be disappointed in the long run. Some breeds can be pretty high maintenance when it comes to grooming. If you simply don’t have the time or budget for a pet that requires frequent grooming then perhaps it’s not the best choice for you.
Acknowledge owning a pet is an investment of time & money: Pets are great fun but they do require a lot of work. They also thrive on our attention and affection. If your schedule simply doesn’t allow you to be home enough to care for a pet you might want to reconsider. Pets also need proper nutrition, medical care, training/socialization and grooming. None of this is cheap. Look over your budget and consider your new pet’s costs. If you simply can’t afford proper care for a new pet, you aren’t doing yourself or the animal any favors by bringing it home.
Once you have your new pet, follow these guidelines to ensure your pet will live a happy, healthy life:
- Invest in proper training and socialization. More pets are surrendered to animal shelters for behavioral problems than any other reason. Get off on the right foot with your new pet by enrolling them in basic obedience training. Not only does this incorporate time in your schedule to bond with your pet, it also gives them time to socialize with other pets and humans.
- Spay/Neuter your pet. Unwanted litters become the burden of already overcrowded animal shelters. Take responsible action to prevent your pet from producing unwanted puppies and kittens.
- Be financially prepared to provide proper veterinary care for your pet. Routine preventative screenings are great at keeping your pet healthy and catching diseases in the early stages. Veterinary care for major injuries and illnesses can be quite expensive though. These are often unexpected and unplanned expenses. Consider pet insurance to help you prepare for these costs. Having a savings account is a great idea for planned expenses. But savings can take awhile to grow and in the meantime an unexpected expense might arise. See the difference in pet insurance vs. savings account for your pet.
- Identify your pet. Did you know that 1 in 3 pets will become lost at some point in their life? Name tags are great but they can be easily lost or removed if your pet is stolen. We recommend microchipping your pet. This is a permanent solution. It also allows you to register your pet in a national database that animal shelters and vet offices can easily reference if your pet is picked up by a good Samaritan and scanned. Microchipping companies are great at promoting rescue efforts for lost or missing pets. HomeAgain is known for sending emails with pet pictures to other registered pet parents in the surrounding neighborhood of lost or missing pets. The return rate for microchipped animals is significantly higher than those that are not microchipped.
- Give your pet plenty of exercise, attention and affection. Exercise is great for our pets. Not only does it help prevent obesity which can lead to other major health problems, it also gives our high energy friends a healthy outlet for all that energy which could otherwise turn into destructive behaviors. It also helps establish a normal routine for your pet and engages their mind in mental stimulation as well. Bored pets can also be destructive pets.
- Clean up after your pet. This means use poop bags or a pooper scooper. No one wants to step in it. No one wants to smell it. Contrary to popular belief— it is not a fertilizer for your lawn. Pet waste is the 3rd contributor to water contamination. It contains billions of bacteria like E. coli and could contain parasites that are transmittable to humans – especially children.
- Obey leash laws and other city regulations. Some states have laws prohibiting pets being off leash in public spaces. Violators can also expect to pay a penalty fine as well. Leash laws are not meant to restrict the fun you can have with your pet. They are meant to keep everyone safe. Please consider that not all pets are friendly or will allow other animals to come into their personal space without feeling provoked. Also, consider that not everyone is physically able to withstand having a friendly dog jump on them. Keeping your pet leashed is the best way to keep them safe. You have an eye on them at all times and can physically remove them from any dangers they may be getting themselves into. If you want to give your pet the opportunity to run free please research local dog parks and doggie daycares in your area.
Download our How To Be A Responsible Pet Owner Infographic to share tips among your pet loving friends and neighbors.