Ever heard the saying that “sometimes love isn’t enough”? The same can be said for pet ownership – while your love and affection is irreplaceable, being responsible is the most important thing for your pet. You may think responsibility naturally comes with the territory, but there’s actually a lot more to being a responsible pet owner than having your heart feel full. February is Responsible Pet Owners Month, intended to bring awareness to the importance of not just loving your animal but caring for them to a degree that keeps everyone safe and happy. Here are a couple of our favorite ways to demonstrate being a responsible pet owner:
- Spay/Neuter. This isn’t just to prevent unwanted litters; it’s a matter of health, as intact pets have a greater chance of developing cancer in their reproductive organs.
- Be sure your pet’s tags and microchip information are up to date; if your address or phone number change, changing your pet’s tags should be just as important as updating the information with your bank or credit cards.
- Routine check-ups. Nothing can replace proper veterinary care – some pets don’t need to go as often as others, but a general rule of thumb is to schedule a routine check-up once a year. As the owner, you owe it to your animal to monitor for any new lumps, areas of discomfort, or abnormal behaviors – if you notice any, make an appointment sooner than later.
- Know your animal, and be involved. If you notice your pet being dominant or making other animals uncomfortable, get involved! Don’t be afraid to remove your pet from the situation. And vice versa: if you see someone or something making your animal uncomfortable, interfere. Show your pet that you’re there for them, too.
- Don’t just feed your pet, know what they’re ingesting. Reading labels is important for pet food too, as you’ll quickly realize a quality diet when you see one. Furthermore, monitor your pet because their diet plays a huge role in their health and wellbeing. Their weight should be maintained at a healthy level, their skin and coat should be lustrous and free of mats or flakes, and their teeth and gums should be free of excessive plaque and tartar. And, of course, always make sure they have access to clean, fresh water.
- Clean up! Don’t be that guy! Make sure you always have bags or a pooper scooper handy to clean up after your animal when you’re out and about. It’s also imperative that cages and litter boxes stay clean, as it can quickly become a health issue for your pet.
- Treat them like a family member. Let them sleep inside. Love them. Celebrate them. Let them know you appreciate the unconditional love they supply to you and your family on a daily basis.