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25 Ways to Be a Responsible Pet Parent

How to find, care for and cherish your family pooch or kitty!

Peggy, Ike, Kelly and Mike. Photo by Roy Gumpel.

It’s Animal Welfare Week! That doesn’t mean you need to have your pets groomed at the poshest boutique and buy the most expensive chew toys.

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Here are 25 things you can do to be a responsible pet parent:

1.   Be sure you pick the right time in your life, when you can devote adequate time and attention, to get a pet.

2.   Pick the right pet for your lifestyle. Would a cat be more appropriate than an active dog?

3.   Remember that pets are a commitment for their whole life. Some cats and dogs live 20 years or more.

4.   Adopt, don’t shop at a pet store. Pet store puppies almost always come from puppy mills–factory breeding organizations that keep animals in substandard conditions.

5.   Consider fostering a dog or cat for a local rescue group. You will give a pet a loving home until it finds its forever home.

6.   Support responsible breeders. If you decide to buy a purebred pup instead of adopting, research and locate responsible breeders.

7.   Socialize your puppy. Help your puppy learn to be comfortable around people, other dogs, buildings, sights and sounds.

8.   Give your pet proper food. Many people disagree about the best brands of pet food, but ask your veterinarian, do your research and make the best decision you can.

9.   Keep the water bowls clean and full. Pets need plenty of hydration.

10. Keep your pet healthy. Visit the veterinarian for regular checkups. Discuss any concerns with your veterinarian.

11. Have your pet spayed or neutered. Help reduce pet overpopulation.

Ike and Mike share a smooch.12. Don’t let your pets get fat. Your pet will be healthier for being fit.

13. If your pet is too heavy, help your pet lose weight.

30. Give your pet plenty of exercise. Walk, run, play. Throw toys for your pet to fetch.

14. When you walk your dog, carry poo bags and use them. Clean up after your dog.

15. Keep tags and/or microchip pets.

16. Don’t let your pet run loose in the neighborhood.

17. Keep your cat from using neighbors’ gardens as litter boxes. Most people believe that indoor cats are safer and healthier.

18. Likewise, keeping your cat indoors will keep it from killing your neighbors’ birds.

19. If your cat is an outside cat, make sure he has access to shade and shelter.

20. Keep your dog out of neighbors’ trash cans. Don’t let your dog run loose.

21. Don’t let your dog bark incessantly.

22. Bring your dog to obedience classes or hire a trainer.

23. Teach your dog to be a Canine Good Citizen. Your local veterinarian may have a list of classes.

24. Teach your pet not to jump on people when they visit.

25. Use positive training methods instead of force, intimidation and fear.

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