What Does It Mean to Be a Responsible Pet Owner?
Tips to Help You Be the Best Pet Parent You Can Be
Have you ever stopped to think about the definition of a responsible pet owner? Do you take care of your dog based on the way you have always done things or the way other dog owners take care of their pets or do you actually do the research, talk to experts, and try to determine the reality from the myths and misinformation?
During responsible pet owner month, which is every February, it is a great idea to review your current practices and make sure you are keeping your focus on the health and well-being of your pet. While these factors are certainly true for dog owners, they can be applied to owners of any types of pets with a small amount of adjustment based on the species.
To take a closer look at your own personal level of responsibility, here are seven key areas to consider. Most pet owners will be able to give themselves high marks in each category, but there may also be few where you can make changes to enhance your current practices and habits.
Provide Companionship and Love
Dogs, in particular, are very social animals. They are true pack animals at heart and feel best when they are physically close to their family. This doesn’t have to mean 24/7 attention and physical proximity, but it does mean regular, frequent and meaningful interactions. Dogs should not be isolated outside or left in a kennel; they need to be a part of your life.
Feed a Healthy, Balanced Diet
Nutrition is key to dog health just as it is for human health. Be sure to purchase quality dog food and give your dog healthy treats. Feed your dog according to his or her size, activity level and the recommendations of your vet. Over or underfeeding dogs will result in health issues in the future. Dogs love small pieces of fruits and vegetables or even small pieces of boiled chicken as a tasty, healthy snack.
Attend Regular Vet Appointments
If you haven’t planned your annual vet appointment, make it a point to do so this month. This will also ensure your dog is up to date on vaccinations and heartworm and flea treatments.
Grooming and Maintenance
Grooming your dog is a great way to bond, plus it will keep his or her coat and skin in great condition. Most dogs enjoy the grooming process and, when done every few days, it is simple and easy. Make sure to clean the dog’s teeth and check his or her eyes, ears and nails on a routine basis.
Ongoing Socialization, Exercise and Training
Dogs love to learn and get out and interact with other dogs and people through play and activities. No matter how old or how young your dog may be, ongoing socialization and training are essential. Exercise on a daily basis should also be a priority and customized to meet your dog’s individual needs and fitness level.
Spay and Neuter
Last on the list, but certainly not least, it is important for responsible dog owners to ensure their pets are spayed or neutered. Early spaying and neutering prevent unwanted pregnancies plus it has health benefits for both male and female dogs.
Finally, make sure your pet is microchipped for identification. For dogs that are out of their yard, a collar with name tag and current phone contact information for the owner is always a good idea. Have a current picture of your pet available as well. This can make tracking him or her down using social media much easier if they ever do get lost or wander off.