Are you thinking about getting a pet? If so, it's important to understand what your pet will need to stay healthy and happy, and what being a responsible pet owner entails. Below, our Madison vets and team share some of the most important aspects of being a truly responsible pet owner.
Owning a Pet is a Big Responsibility
Even if you love animals, and want more than anything to be able to lavish love and affection on a pet of your own, you may not be in a position to be a truly responsible pet owner.
While love and attention are important for pets, there is much more involved than may first meet the eye. Below are a few key aspects of becoming a responsible pet owner that you should consider before bringing home a pet.
Responsible Pet Ownership Takes Commitment
Choose your pet carefully! Avoid impulsive decisions you may regret later. Once you bring an animal into your life you are committing to caring for that creature for life, that means providing a loving home and all the necessities of life, including healthcare, good food, comfortable and appropriate shelter and meeting the exercise needs of your pet. Of course, you will also need to commit to spending time training and/or socializing your pet, as well as providing plenty of mental stimulation.
Think this through very carefully! You may love the idea of owning a parrot that you can teach to speak, but did you know that some parrots can live 70 years or longer! That is a lifelong commitment for you both. Take the time to consider the long-term and day-to-day needs of the animal you'd like to own, then really take a look at your own lifestyle to determine whether you can commit to providing your pet with all they need throughout their lifetime.
Pets Require a Significant Investment of Both Time & Money
Before bringing home a pet it is important to have a clear understanding of the investment that will be required. Can you afford to feed and care for a giant breed dog, which can come with complex needs? Are you willing to invest in the time it takes to train and exercise a high-energy dog such as a border collie?
It's also true that some cats are very unhappy when left alone for hours each day, and even small pets such as reptiles can require a significant financial investment in terms of equipment, diet and healthcare.
Obey The Laws in Your Area
Following the pet licensing and leash restrictions in your community is an essential part of being a responsible pet owner.
Always clean up after your pet, and never release your pet into the wild if you find you cannot care for them properly - contact a rescue agency near you for assistance.
Many people don't realize that some animals are banned as pets in certain areas. These laws exist for a number of reasons including noise, risk to human life, and the threat to natural plants and animals in your area. Some animals banned as pets in Alabama include Piranha, nonindigenous venomous reptiles, and Giant African snails. In other places, seemingly harmless pets such as hedgehogs are banned. Take the time to learn about the laws regarding pet ownership in your area.
Do Not Contribute to Overpopulation
It is estimated that more than 6 million homeless dogs and cats find their way to US shelters every year. Many of these beautiful animals never find forever homes, and are euthanized. Help to reduce the number of unwanted animals in your community by obtaining your pet through an adoption or rehoming agency if possible. Otherwise be sure to research the breeder you choose to ensure that they are using ethical breeding practices.
As soon as your pet is old enough have them spayed or neutered.
Take Your Pet to Their Veterinarian for Regular Checkups & Vaccines
It's important to care for your pet's long-term health by maintaining a schedule of routine vaccinations and wellness exams. These preventive care measures help to protect your pet against disease, and allows your vet to monitor your pet's overall health, watching for concerning signs of developing conditions. Health problems are most easily and effectively treated when spotted early, making these annual exams essential for your pet as they continue to age.
Have Your Dog or Cat Microchipped
Even indoor cats can escape and be lost or stolen. Microchipping your pet is your best chance of getting your pet back if they go missing. Getting a microchip for your pet is fast and easy. Speak to your vet for details.
Prepare for Emergencies
Accidents happen, and pets of all species can become sick or injured. As a responsible pet owner, it is down to you to cover the cost of your animal care if an emergency strikes, and there is no denying that emergency veterinary care can soon add up. Be sure that you are financially prepared to cover the cost of emergency vet care, and any treatments or medications required.
Having a separate bank account where you save for emergency vet care or investing in pet insurance can help you to be prepared if your animal has a medical emergency.
Don't Skip Your Pet's Dental Care
Whether your pet is a cat, dog, horse or bunny oral health plays a key role in their overall health. The dental health needs of each species varies. While for some pets, being mindful of their diet can take care of their oral health, for some pets professional care is recommended, this is especially true for cats, dogs and horses. These animals should have annual dental exams to ensure that their teeth and mouth stay healthy. Neglected dental issues can result in painful jaw conditions, an inability to eat, or even heart disease in some cases.