February is Responsible Pet Parents Month

Anyone who is lucky enough to have the unconditional love of a dog, cat, rabbit, ferret, goldfish, horse, iguana, and so on—you know that animal deserves your best even if you can’t give it to them everyday. Maybe you wish you would take them for a walk more often, or clean their litter box more often, but life often finds a way of stopping you from doing those things. Still, take the time this month to make a change and give back to your pet and be the best pet parent you can be.

Here are some easy ways to become a better companion to your four-legged friend.

Get your pet spayed or neutered
Backyard breeding, puppy mills, pet stores and irresponsible unplanned breeding are all root causes for the overpopulation of unwanted pets. This overpopulation results in the senseless euthanasia of more 5 million pets a year.

Keep your pet healthy
Your pet’s healthcare should be your top priority to ensure a quality healthy life. Your pet should be examined by a veterinarian immediately (within 24 hours) for a thorough physical when you first bring them into your home and annually for preventive care. Always seek veterinary care immediately when your dog is injured or sick.

Get out there and get moving
Your pet, regardless of size, requires plenty of fresh air and exercise. Exercise is a good outlet for pent up energy and will help avoid unwanted behavior some pets display due to lack of exercise. Interacting with your pet is highly recommended as it reinforces the bond you have with them. Remember to bring disposable baggies to pick up after your pet if necessary.

Your pet wants to learn
Many dogs’ guardians surrender a pet because they never took the time to properly train them. When bad habits go unchallenged, the bad behavior is encouraged to the point the guardian no longer wishes to deal with it. Training your dog builds and strengthens a healthy and appropriate relationship with your pet. It allows a clear method of communication so you know what to expect from your dog and for your dog to understand and respect what you expect of him/her. Training also lays down the rules and boundaries, allowing your pet to be a responsible member of society and preventing the unacceptable or bad habits.

Clean up after your pet
A sanitary and clean environment for you and your pet ensures a healthy lifestyle for all. Be sure to keep your pets’ environment as clean as possible, as bacteria and disease festers in fecal matter and urine.

Create a perfect pet environment
If you do not own your home, be sure to check with your landlord on any restrictions they may have on pets. If you plan on moving, take your pet into consideration as how a landlord or neighbor may view your pet and make appropriate arrangements. Too many animals are dropped off at shelters because their family is moving and unable to accommodate them any longer, or the pet just simply does not fit into their lifestyle any longer. There is nothing more heartbreaking than senseless excuses as these.

Keep your pet safe
The safety of your pet is crucial to a quality life. When a pet is allowed to roam freely outdoors, it poses a greater risk of them falling victim to attacks (by other animals as well as humans), theft, or a traffic accident. Annually, thousands of pets are severely injured or killed due to these risks. Spare yourself this heartache. Also, keep in mind that tethering (tying your pet up) is not a recommended device for confining your pet while unsupervised. Many animals wind up strangling themselves. If you choose to use a fence or kennel, please consider the appropriate height and material used so that your pet cannot jump over, climb or get hung up on it trying to escape.

Microchip Your Pet
Regardless if you have an indoor pet or one that is always “penned up.”  Pets have their sneaky ways of escaping confinement. We recommend providing both a microchip as well as an ID tag for your pet. An ID tag can bring your pet quickly and safely home by anyone who finds them and does not have a microchip reader. A microchip is an excellent backup should your pet lose its collar or escape due to a lack of a collar or slipping out of its collar.  Without proper identification, it is nearly impossible to reunite pets and their companions should they get lost. It could be the difference between life and death for your pet.

Know who your pet comes into contact with
If you are looking for a veterinarian, trainer, groomer, pet-sitter, or kennel, be sure to check references before leaving your animal in their care.

Make these part of your pet parent guidebook, and you will find you have a happier and healthier pet.

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