Be Responsible: Pet Ownership & Pet Care Tips for Cats and Dogs
Responsible pet ownership requires a lot of dependability, knowledge and consideration. Unfortunately, some new pet owners take this responsibility very lightly.
So, before you take home your new dog or cat, consider the following pet care tips to ensure that you are providing your new friend with the right amount of care and love! Your new companion is relying on you.
Whether your new pet is just a puppy or an adult dog, you have a challenge ahead of you to practice responsible pet ownership and awareness. Your home is new territory, and you are now your pet's primary caregiver. Both kindness and a firm, yet reassuring, approach to your new dog will go a long way. Ensure that he knows you're ready to give him the love he deserves by creating a canine-friendly atmosphere and integrating these pet care tips into his routine.
- Dog crate training and housebreaking -- Two very important stages in your dog's life. Crate training gives your pet a quiet, safe place to retreat to at bedtime or whenever you leave the house. If you want to prevent chewing or scratching, crate training might be necessary in the beginning. Housebreaking is just a matter of routine. Think of a word you want your dog to associate with going to the bathroom outside and use it repeatedly. Take your dog outside multiple times, usually after meals or water breaks, and he'll soon make the connection.
- Flea and tick prevention -- Without preventative measures and an ounce of responsible pet ownership, your home could become infested or your dog could become extremely ill. Most vets can provide you with products that eliminate fleas and ticks on your dog. These are available orally or in a liquid form and are placed on the back just once a month. Your dog will be able to repel fleas, ticks and parasites regularly.
- Shots and preventative vaccines -- Dogs suffer from many terrible diseases that are often fatal if not prevented or treated at the outset. Vaccination is one of the most important pet care tips, and one that should be heeded. Rabies, distemper, heartworms and parvovirus are some of the worst viruses that can afflict your dog. Your vet will discuss which shots your pet should receive at each yearly check-up to prevent these agonizing diseases.
- Spaying or neutering -- Similar to yearly vaccinations, spaying or neutering is a vital part of pet care. Gone unmonitored, two dogs can produce many off-spring. Sadly, a large number of these dogs will be euthanized or left to fend for themselves on the street. Spaying or neutering, a major part of responsible pet ownership, ensures your pet will be healthier in the long run. In addition, you will have prevented the birth of more unwanted puppies.
- Obedience training -- Your dog desires structure. Teaching him the basic commands yourself or enrolling him in an obedience or training course gives him a level of organization in his life. Furthermore, teaching him certain commands also ensures that he will be a well-behaved, functioning member of your family within your home. Purchase a dog behavior book or one offering pet care tips, such as My Smart Puppy by Brian Kilcommons and Sarah Wilson or Dog Talk by John Ross. These two books will give you a better idea about responsible pet ownership and how to approach certain situations with your new dog.
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Unlike dogs, cats are much more independent, needing perhaps less of your attention. Cats, however, rely on you for the same necessities as a dog. If problematic behavior pops up, contact your local animal shelter or animal welfare organization for more pet care tips. Most likely, literature on both dog and cat care will be provided upon request.
In any case, to help your cat be a happier, better-behaved feline, consider the following important pet care tips:
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- A clean cat litter box -- If your cat lives inside, you will need to clean and/or empty his litter box at least twice a day. Every week or so, you'll also need to dump the litter out entirely and wash his box with hot, soapy water to reduce the spread of bacterial growth. This task can be easy to forget, but cats are clean animals. As far as a cat goes, one of the more important pet care tips for you is ensuring his area is always clean. The location of his box is important. Keep it out of high-traffic areas and away from his cat food. Teach him how to use a litter box by showing him where it is four to five times a day. Encourage him to use it and praise him when he uses it or even just digs.
- Flea and tick prevention -- Fleas and ticks can make your new pet very sick and can introduce parasites into the bloodstream. Practice responsible pet ownership! Prevent fleas by purchasing flea and tick preventative products from your vet. Flea powder and a quick sweep of the vacuum through your house is also an excellent guard against fleas or ticks. However, if you do opt to buy products online or at the store, be cautious and practice responsible pet ownership by checking the labels and warnings. Some preventative measures are harmful to cats.
- Spaying or neutering -- As important for cats as it is for dogs! Responsible pet ownership dictates that you have your cat spayed or neutered when s/he is between six and eight weeks old, if possible. Not only will you help prevent pet "overpopulation," but you will reduce the potential for other cancers and diseases that may occur if your cat is not surgically altered.
- Shots and preventative vaccines -- Cats are susceptible to a variety of fatal and painful diseases. Without vaccinations and a nod to responsible pet ownership, they will likely die or have medical issues throughout their lives. Much like the recommendation for dogs, vaccination for cats is one of the most important pet care tips. Rabies, FeLV (Feline Leukemia), FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus), and distemper are some of the worst. However, with a regular check-up, shots from your vet and just a bit of responsible pet ownership, you have nothing to worry about!
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You now have a big responsibility on your hands. Your new cat or dog ultimately relies on you to provide him with the necessities of life, and it is your job as a responsible, knowledgeable pet owner to ensure that he has a happy, healthy life by incorporating a routine into his life and following the pet care tips that have been outlined above.
Do your research and talk to other pet owners to get other helpful pet care tips! Your pet has basic needs that must be fulfilled. Of course, he needs a ready supply of cool drinking water, healthy dog food or cat food, shade or shelter and pet grooming on a regular basis, but he also expects you to create a loving home and warm environment and to keep him healthy and happy.
With just a little awareness of what to expect, coupled with responsible pet ownership, you'll be ready to give your new companion lots of love and a happy home!
About the Author
Mailey E. McLaughlin, M. Ed, is the Training and Behavior Coordinator at the Atlanta Humane Society. A Certified Dog Trainer, she has been teaching professionally for over eight years. Mailey teaches all the AHS dog obedience classes, which include Basic and Intermediate levels, and runs the free pet behavior hotline. She also does one-on-one training for owners and dogs and works with the shelter volunteers to instill manners in the dogs awaiting adoption. She is a member of numerous canine professional organizations, including the International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP) and the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT). To learn more about the AHS or to contribute to the online pet donations fund, please visit www.atlantahumane.org.