Promoting Responsible Pet Ownership: Tips for Happy and Healthy Pets

Research has proven that many aspects of pet ownership are beneficial. Dogs snuck into our midst some 30,000 years ago, and cats roughly 12,000 years ago.

Pets protect pet owners, promote exercise, and entertain pet parents joyfully. Now, experts are proving pets contribute positively to our emotional and mental health, like loneliness and depression, and lower our blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides.

Responsible pet parenting is one way to repay a pet for its devotion and to keep our loved pet healthy.

Benefits of Responsible Pet Ownership

Pet parents and responsible pet owners provide more than the essentials like pet food, pet insurance, and microchipping. Responsible pet owners make every effort to visit the dog park even when exhausted and scoop the cat litter to keep their cats happy.

The American pool of responsible pet owners collectively spent over $143.6 billion on our pets and nearly $2 billion on insurance. Dog and cat ownership stats suggest that 70% of households keep pets.

Benefits of dog ownership:

  • Promote physical exercise
  • Increased socialization for pets and owners
  • Combats loneliness and depression
  • Overall increased health, like lower blood pressure, lower weight, healthier heart health

Benefits of cat ownership:

  • Companionship
  • Helps with loneliness and mental health like depression
  • Promotes social engagement

How to Become a Responsible Pet Owner

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Being a responsible pet owner is a 24/7 job. It means scooping dog poop in all weather and having our best clothing covered in cat and dog hair. It means sharing sofa and bed space and having someone watch us eat.

Choosing the right pet

Not everyone can keep a furry friend as a pet. Allergies and housing restrictions demand that our companion animals fit our situation. Before you open your heart and home to a pet, investigate the animals’ needs and if they match what you can provide.

Research and answer honestly:

  • What is the life expectancy of our favorite potential pet?
  • Can I provide the right food a pet requires?
  • Am I able to dedicate enough time to exercise the pet?
  • Is there a dog breed that meets my level of physical activity?
  • How do I feel about poop and urine and cleaning a litter box daily?
  • Can I afford pet insurance or the medical cost of neutering and spaying?
  • Are all family members on board (consider people’s allergies)?
  • Am I willing to commit for life (no matter what)?
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Providing proper care

Proper care goes beyond the basics, like food, water, and shelter. When you decide on a specific pet, consider these pet care necessities:

  • Essentials like food and water
  • Proper shelter (aquariums, cat trees, dog kennel)  and secure fencing
  • Grooming personally or hiring a professional
  • Teeth cleaning to prevent periodontal disease
  • Medical attention to promote neutered pets and a healthy life
  • Enough exercise for cats and dogs

Training and behavior

Even cats need training to prevent damaging your home and introducing them to the litter box. Dogs require more commitment than other animals to prevent and correct behavior problems with positive reinforcement.

  • Can you commit the time to train?
  • Will the entire family participate in these activities?
  • Is training and daily walks to promote regular exercise a goal?
  • Do you understand your pet’s needs?
  • Are you patient enough to train a pet to learn basic commands?

Safety and identification

This is two-fold. First, is your home pet-friendly? Assess your living conditions, and can you put up a fence to keep your dog away from a pool, a busy road, or an unreceptive neighbor? World Animal Foundation recommends the use of wireless fencing options, providing pet owners with convenient and effective solutions.

The second part of safety includes pet identification, like microchipping and dog ID tags with your contact information. An electronic collar like Halo is a great tool to keep your pet safe.

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Spaying and neutering

Please spay and neuter. There are many benefits to neutering. Animal shelters are already overrun, and being a backyard breeder creates many problems.

Benefits of spaying and neutering:

  • Prevents pet overpopulation
  • Reduces unwanted pets in shelters
  • Pets neutered live healthier lives and don’t run off
  • Prevents sexually transmitted diseases and cancers

Pet’s immunization or vaccination

Be fair and ask yourself if you can afford a veterinarian; they’re not cheap, and regular veterinary visits. A pet owner is responsible for their pet’s health.

To keep a pet healthy:

  • A vaccine schedule for good health
  • Boosters for rabies, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Parvo, etc
  • Preventative caution for parasite control
  • Prevent dental disease, promote tick control

A veterinary clinic is an incredible resource for many common solutions.

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Community involvement and advocacy

When I’m without a pet, I become a menace to the community because I’m constantly petting everyone’s dog or cat. Introducing your dog and cat to your community is a great way to build on that relationship.

  • Respect your neighbor’s boundaries
  • Don’t let your cat or dog defecate on public property without cleaning it
  • Train your dog not to bark incessantly (especially when you’re not at home)
  • If you see animal abuse in your community, confirm it, then report it

Tips to Keep Your Pet Happy and Healthy

Being a pet owner is a joyful and rewarding experience, and a pet’s health and overall well-being is a big responsibility around the clock. Dogs are our best friends. Let’s return that favor and be their best friend by understanding and meeting their needs; Ditto for cat ownership.

  • Can you afford a pet? The cost of taking home a rescue (thank you) can cost upward of $500
  • Is your home a secure environment and roomy enough?
  • Is there room in your finances for medical care costs?
  • Can you keep a cat’s litter box clean—daily?
  • Is your resident dog’s age going to impact a new pet’s life?
  • Do you have the time to exercise and comfort your pet? This applies to cat owners and dog owners.

These big questions lead to keeping your pet happy and healthy.

  • Will your pet become a family member?
  • Can you provide the nutritional food your pet needs?
  • Is your home pet-proof (no chemicals, choking hazards) and secure
  • Are you willing to groom your pet with dental care to maintain a pet’s teeth, nail clipping, and brushing?
  • Do you promote spaying and neutering?
  • Is your pet microchipped or wears a collar with contact ID tags? Try a GPS Halo collar.
  • Does your cat or dog know basic commands like come, sit, stay, or recognize its name?
  • Is there enough time in your day to exercise and play with your pet?
  • Do you have other dogs that a new pet will adapt to?
  • Can you control your temper?

Things to Consider to Become a Responsible Pet Owner

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Choosing to become a pet parent is so rewarding. However, pet ownership requires money, time, patience, commitment, and dealing with some yucky parts (vomit and poop).

Commit to pet ownership

Pet ownership is a lifetime commitment and sacrifice for your pet’s health and well-being. Being a dog owner doesn’t mean winging it. It means providing the basics like proper nutritional needs for all life stages, time to engage your pet in play and exercise, and making them a valued family member.

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It also means having a solid backup plan when you can’t be there. Do you have a friend or family that can fill in? Have you considered a pet service to walk or care for your pet in your absence?

Health and grooming of pet

Researching the right pet for your family is essential. Don’t offer a home to a furry friend with masses of hair if you can’t commit to brushing (and vacuuming) and maintaining the grooming needs of your pet.

Cats are notoriously clean and spend a considerable amount of time grooming. A clean litter box is part of their health and grooming routine.

Choose a short-haired dog (they still shed) or a hypoallergenic dog breed if having a fur-free sofa is important to you.

Hire a grooming service to help with thick-coated pets, trim their toenails, and check their ears for mites and other parasitic skin conditions.

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Pet safety and insurance

There are so many great gadgets on the market to help with pet safety. Pet health insurance is a great option that can save you thousands of dollars.

Pet safety like a wireless invisible fence, Halo collar, proper leashes, harnesses, and microchips help protect our pets in an emergency.

Training is another safety measure to help keep our dogs safe. Ensure they know the basic commands.

Be a friend to your pet

This is the best part. Snuggling up to a cat, dog, or pet is an emotionally rewarding and healing experience. It’s why they’ve been part of our community and family for thousands of years–it never gets old. Holding your dog or cat’s warm body and feeling their affection and love—you can’t buy that feeling.

A responsible owner provides the essentials, but a pet needs your love and devotion.

Importance of Responsible Pet Ownership

With 70% of households owning a pet, responsible pet ownership is not negotiable. The Humane Society and its affiliates, like the ASPCA, need our commitment. Their facilities are often overrun and maxed out.

Our role is to take responsible pet ownership to the next level, including choosing a rescue pet over buying from a breeder or pet store.

Overpopulation of pets is a significant issue. Being responsible addresses that problem.

Conclusion

Thinking about the pets that have graced my life overwhelms me with gratitude. I was a responsible pet parent to four purebred Dobbies. I’m wiser and would choose my next pet from a shelter; for now, I enjoy the rewarding role of surrogate pet parenting.