February is National Responsible Pet Owners Month. Including a dog or cat in your family can be incredibly rewarding, but “parenting” a happy, healthy pet is also a large commitment! What does it mean to be a responsible pet owner? Here are 11 things to consider:
- Training. Last month was National Train Your Dog Month, and we can’t stress enough the importance of training your dog! With simple manners training, you can help reduce behavior problems, and strengthen the bond between you and your pup!
- Nutrition. Feed your pet a well-balanced and nutritious diet. There are many quality dog and cat food choices on the market today. With a little research you can find a lot of information on food, and the food that would be best for your pet. If you are unsure, don’t hesitate to ask your veterinarian. Great nutrition sets the foundation for a long, happy and healthy life for your pet!
- Clean Up After Your Pet. Whenever you take your dog for an outing, make sure you bring some bags to pick up after your dog. This helps prevent the spread of diseases, and assures a clean environment for everyone to enjoy. Do the same for your cat. Be sure to clean their litter box often so they have clean space to do their business!
- Grooming. Groom your pet as often as required for their specific breed. Keep your pet’s coat clean with regular trimming (if needed), brushing and baths. Keep your dog or cat’s nails at a comfortable length
- Hygiene. Beyond grooming, good pet hygiene calls for clean ears and teeth free from plaque and tartar. February is also National Pet Dental Month. One of the most common problems veterinarians see in pets is dental disease, and, unfortunately, these issues can get serious if untreated.
- Exercise. Give your pet plenty of exercise. Proper exercise cannot only keep your pet healthy, but also help many behavior problems that are caused by pent up energy.
- Update Identifications. Current ID tags on your dog or cat’s collar can help ensure that they get home safe and sound if they should wander out of your sight. If your pet isn’t microchipped, consider it! If your pet is ever lost, a quick scan will provide rescuers with important phone numbers and addresses to help them reunite you with your pet.
- Go to the Vet. It is important to schedule an annual veterinary checkup to stay informed about your pet’s health.
- Travel Safely. You wouldn’t ride without using a seat belt and neither should your pet! From crates, to harnesses, to safety nets, there are many options on the market to keep your pet safe in the car.
- Pet Proof Your Home. Dogs and cats are curious by nature, so there’s always the possibility that they’ll get into something they shouldn’t! Because of this, it’s important to avoid bringing potentially hazardous products into your home. Being educated about the dangers of certain houseplants and choosing more “bio-friendly” products are usually a good place to start.
- Teach Children to Respect Animals. Teach by example! Children learn by the lead of others, so show them that you care about animals. Always supervise young children around dogs and cats. Teach children the proper way to approach and greet a dog or cat and to always ask the owner before approaching a strange dog.
Of course pet parenting continues beyond February, but this month is a great time to think about all the ways you can continue to enrich your pet’s life!