How You Can Be a More Responsible Pet Parent
February is “Responsible Pet Owner Month”, but we don’t like that title. I mean, being a responsible pet ‘owner’ sounds like a wonderful idea, right? It is vitally important that people take good care of their animals. So, why would the idea of being a responsible pet ‘owner’ bother us? While we understand that many people refer to themselves as pet ‘owners’, we at Earth Animal do not. Animals are not only pets to us and we certainly don’t ‘own’ them. They are integral members of our families. They bring us so much light and joy and it is not only our responsibility, but our privilege to care for them. That is why we would prefer this month to be called Responsible Pet Parent Month.
With that being said, let’s see some ways on how you can improve the relationship with your pet.
Show the Love
As we’ve already said, your animal companion is a member of your family. Make sure to show them how much they mean to you by treating them well. Don’t leave your animal outside for long stretches of time in extreme weather. Bring them with you to the places you go whenever possible and be sure to do so safely by not allowing them to ride unsafely in the car. Spend time playing and cuddling with them every day. And, just as you would do with your human loved ones, be sure to tell you animal that you love them as often as possible.
Just like in any healthy relationship, your animal companion needs to know what you expect from them and what they can expect from you. This is why basic training is so important. When your animal knows the rules, they are less likely to engage in unwanted – and sometimes dangerous – behaviors. They will feel more comfortable and won’t develop anxiety about how to please you if you establish and maintain clear and consistent rules.
Keep Them Healthy
To help your animal stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible, keep a schedule of regular veterinary visits to help prevent illnesses or catch any problems early enough to intervene. Make sure to feed your animal companion the proper type and amount of food for them and exercise them regularly to maintain a healthy weight. Consult with your veterinarian to determine how to best meet your animal’s nutritional needs and follow the plan you devise together. For exercise, you don’t have to invest in a special treadmill to keep your animal moving. Just be sure to help them stay regularly active in the ways that make sense for both of you from daily walks to games of fetch to everything in between. And, of course, its fine to indulge in the occasional special treat, but part of loving your animal is keeping them healthy, which means limiting the junk food.
Keep Them Safe
There are some basic safety measures to follow when living with an animal. First, know what foods are and are not safe for your animal to eat, and be sure to keep the unsafe ones far away from your animal. Your dog, for example, won’t naturally stay away from chocolate because it is toxic. If they find a brownie, they will eat it. So be sure to keep all unsafe food and medicines out of your animal’s reach. Second, make sure that there is nothing that can hurt your animal left where they can reach it. Be sure to pull up blind chords, for example, so your animal can’t get tangled. Third, don’t let your animal chew on things without supervision. They could easily get the squeaker out of a toy and choke on it or swallow a too big piece of a chew. If you aren’t nearby to help in a hurry, your animal could end up in real trouble. Fourth, avoid letting your pet roam around an unfenced yard or find a way to get outside without your knowledge. They can easily wander too far off and get lost or hurt. And just in case they manage to wander away despite your best efforts, be sure that your animal always wears a collar with ID tag and is microchipped. These will help get them home more quickly and easily if they are found by a stranger.
Give Them Friends
Whether with humans or other animals or, ideally, both, it is important for your companion animal to get the right amount of socialization. You wouldn’t want to live all alone in a cage and neither does your animal. Take time to visit with animal friends who have appropriately matched personalities and socialize your animal with people as much as possible as early as possible. These interactions are important to your animal’s emotional health and will help to prevent behavior issues down the road.
While we don’t like the terminology used in "Responsible Pet Owner Month", we do love the cause behind it. Choosing to bring an animal into your home and family is an awesome responsibility that requires years-long commitment. Follow our basic tips above to ensure that you are doing the best job you can to be a responsible caregiver to your animal companion.