By Vanessa Davis
How many times have you seen or read about the horrific treatment of dogs, cats or other pets by their “owners”? I have and, unfortunately, it’s sad to say that it’s been way too many times. But did you know there is more to being a responsible pet parent than just not abusing your pet?
Take the time to research the pet you want and the different breeds. Make a list, look at your family’s wants, lifestyle and activity level, and consider the area that you have to offer your new furry family member. There are many options for pets, so taking the time to properly select one that will fit your family will prevent any regrets or the need for a wonderful pet ending up at the shelter later on.
When you choose to adopt, rescue or even buy a pet from a breeder, you are agreeing to take care of that pet for its full life. Just like having a child, you can’t trade your child for a new model, so why should you think that your pet can be traded for a younger or different one years later? Dogs are pleasers; all they want to do it make their owners happy, so why shouldn’t we treat them in the same loving and caring way?
Fulfilling your pet’s needs comes in many forms. Keeping your pets up to date on their immunizations is a must. This will protect not only your pet, but any pet that they come into contact with. Whether you live in the city or the country, all of our pets are exposed to wildlife. These wild creatures can carry diseases that can be spread to our pets even with non-confrontational encounters.
Making sure your pet is regularly groomed is also important. Regular brushing and bathing will help reduce and may prevent fleas and ticks from making a home on your pet. If your pet has longer hair, daily brushing and monthly trims are necessary to maintain a mat-free coat and reduce the chances of skin issues.
If you don’t intend to breed your pet, then you should have it spayed or neutered. The most obvious reason is for their health, but this also makes them less likely to roam and it will calm more hyper pets. There are a countless numbers of unplanned litters every year, which can be reduced by simply spaying or neutering our pets.
Even if your pet is an “indoor” pet you should have him or her microchipped. Accidents happen; pets can get spooked and slip out the door at a moment’s notice. We see pictures of lost pets on Facebook and other social media sites every day. Take the time to have your pets chipped, and remember to keep the information on the chip up to date.
If your pet is left outside, take the time to make sure he or she has constant access to fresh water. During the day, pets also need access to a cool, shaded area. Chains can be dangerous, so if you tether your pet, make sure that the chain is not heavy and pulling around the dog’s neck. In addition, take extra time to ensure that the pet cannot get tangled around something and restrict their access to water and food. Most important, take the time to ensure that they cannot hang themselves.
Kennels are great, but they should not be used as a daylong holding cell for any dog. If you do need to crate your pet during the day, make sure they get a good walk beforehand. Then, when you get home, take Fido for a long walk – at least 30 minutes if not longer. Retrievers, for example, are balls of energy, so if they aren’t able to find ways to utilize that energy outdoors, they may take it out on your furniture.
Using a dog trainer for unruly pets can be one of the most responsible actions a pet owner can take. This will not only ensure that Fido will learn proper manners but the owners will also learn how to redirect their pet’s energy into a positive outcome. This will make for a much better living environment for both pets and parents.
Finally, one point that many pet owners forget. Ask yourself this question: Do I scoop? Being a responsible pet owner includes taking the time to pick up after your pet and properly dispose of their waste.
The third annual Dirty Dogs Extravaganza on September 26 and 27 will give you a chance to check out seminars, attend microchip and rabies clinics, play games, learn about certifications, and enjoy food trucks and more.
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Vanessa Davis is the owner of Dirty Dogs Spa and Boutique in Wake Forest. All products mentioned in this article are all-natural products and are sold at Dirty Dogs Spa and Boutique.