Make the world a better place for pets and people.
February is Responsible Pet Owner Month, which makes it a great time to assess yourself as a pet owner. Are you as responsible as you should be?
Being a responsible pet owner is important for many reasons. Not only does the well-being of your cat or dog depend on it, but society also stands to gain. Imagine if everyone who owned a pet was responsible. The world would be a better place, for both people and pets.
Here are the pillars of responsible pet ownership. See how you measure up.
Spay or Neuter
Probably the most responsible thing you can do as a pet owner is to spay or neuter your dog or cat. Shelters across the country are filled with animals desperate for homes. Sadly, there are more pets than people who want them. By having your pet altered, you won’t be contributing to the homeless pet problem. Your pet will also be healthier and happier if she or he is spayed or neutered, since altering can help ward off certain types of cancer.
An important part of being a responsible pet owner is taking your cat or dog to a veterinarian when he’s sick. It’s also important to have him see the vet for annual check-ups, too. Regular checkups will help your vet detect problems early, when they are easier to treat. Your pet’s ears and teeth will be examined, and his lungs and heart checked. The vet will also weigh him and talk to you about nutrition and any issues you may be having with your pet. Senior dogs and cats can also benefit from regular blood tests to make sure kidneys, liver and other organs are in good working order.
Responsible dog owners train their dogs either on their own, with a private trainer or in obedience classes. Well-trained dogs come when they are called, calmly greet new people, get along with other dogs and go to the bathroom outside and not in the house. They are welcome in people’s homes, are good with children and never bite. They are a joy to live with and are good canine citizens.
Cats can also use a little help when it comes to being good citizens. Cat trainers can help curb unwanted behaviors such as jumping up on counters, refusing the litter box, and spraying furniture.
Because dogs and cats can’t talk, they are dependent on their owners to fit them with identification that will help them get home should they become lost. Keeping a collar and I.D. tag on your pet at all times—even when he’s in the house—is important. Even the most careful owners sometimes lose a pet through an open door or gate. Your pet’s I.D. tag should have your name, address and phone number. It’s also a good idea to have your pet fitted with a microchip. If he becomes lost and ends up in an animal shelter, the microchip will enable it to contact you.
Gone are the days of letting your cat or dog roam freely through the neighborhood. Speeding cars, predators and litigious neighbors are all good reasons to keep your pet confined to your house or yard. Your pet will be safer and live a longer life—and you’ll get along better with your neighbors—if you protect him from the hazards of the great outdoors.
About the Author: Audrey Pavia is an award-winning freelance writer and author of “The Labrador Retriever Handbook.” She is a former staff editor of Dog Fancy, Dog World and The AKC Gazette magazines. To learn more about her work, visit www.audreypavia.com and hollywoodhoofbeats.net/