Responsible Pet Owner’s Month
February is Responsible Pet Owner’s Month. While you try your best to provide your pets with the utmost in terms of love, care, and safety, this is a good time to stop and consider if there are any areas you can improve on regarding the quality of life of your pets. Your dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits, birds, and other companion animals are part of your families, so naturally you want to provide what’s best for them and be responsible as pet parents.
Pet-proof your home: Dogs and cats have a penchant for getting into places they’re not supposed to, so pet-proofing your home is a must for their safety. Making sure they don’t have access to dangerous chemicals, electrical cords, lit candles, spaces where they can become trapped, etc. takes some time and effort but is worthwhile. Because dogs and cats like to keep their parents on their toes and some pets continually discover new ways to get into trouble, you may have to modify your pet-proofing strategies throughout your pets’ lives.
Diet: More and more pet parents are showing a vested interest in the food and supplements they provide their pets. Luckily, the pet food and supplement industry is growing, with more high-quality products available all the time. Make sure you do your research, whether you decide to stick to traditional kibble or go grain-free, raw, home-made or any of the many options available. High-quality dog and cat foods are available at your local pet boutiques. If you decide to supplement, always do your research and consult with your vet.
Exercise and play: Exercise and play are essential to the quality of life of your pet. Exercise helps direct your dog’s energy and can help prevent a bored, over-excited dog. Exercise and play also create times for you to bond with your pet, and dogs especially need the social interaction and affection that is demonstrated during play and exercise. February in Chicago is a brutal time to walk, but even a short, brisk walk around the block can do your pup some good. There are also plenty of ways to play inside; there are lots of dog toys and games that don’t require a whole lot of space.
Spay and neuter: While not applicable to all kinds of pets, if you own a dog, cat, or certain other small mammals, spaying and neutering can be extremely important. The companion animal population is very large and still growing, as is clear by the number of animals in shelters every year. Spaying or neutering your dog or cat is a key way to keep the homeless animal population from growing more. Spaying and neutering is also linked to a decrease in certain unwanted behaviors.
ID and microchip: We’ve written about microchips before, and definitely support their use. Microchips can help a shelter or vet reunite a lost pet with their owner in a short amount of time. ID tags are a must for dogs and cats—even indoor cats, since they’re crafty and can be escape artists. In the event that your pet is lost or stolen, having a readily accessible form of ID can be the difference between them being reunited with you or not.
Monitor health: Yearly visits to the veterinarian are essential for keeping up-to-date on your pet’s health needs. And yes, some dogs and cats would rather face the Apocalypse than a visit to the doctor, but it’s for their own good. Another key step to maintaining your pet’s health is to keep a close eye on any changes in behavior, appetite, and range of movement. Also to watch out for any physical changes (bumps, lumps, etc). Dogs and cats are professionals when hiding pain or illness, so it falls on their parents to pay close attention to how their furry family members are doing, and to take action when necessary.
There’s no question that pet ownership requires a good deal of time, effort and love, but there’s also no question that it’s worth it. Keeping these and other tips in mind can make a world of difference in the life of your pet.