How to Be a Better Pet Owner: Finalist 12

by Gayla on June 6, 2013

Being a pet owner is quite a large responsibility. Taking care of another living thing takes time and effort, but the satisfaction is a worthy reward. There is no feeling like coming home after a long day and being greeted by that slobbery face that has been awaiting your return. Pet ownership helps feed human souls with confidence and love, which is why humans are so drawn to animals. Even though most people believe they are helping an animal by adopting, there are simple mistakes that can be made by the pet owner to risk the life of the pet or create behavioral issues. Luckily, these mistakes can be easily avoided and many health problems and behavioral issues are therefore eliminated. Although pet ownership is a responsibility to take on, the experience provides constant rewards.

One common mistake pet owners make is purchasing an animal on impulse without researching the breed or species. It is very important to make sure this pet fits your lifestyle. For example, a family that lives in a small two bedroom apartment decided to purchase two Border Collie puppies. Now, these puppies are adorable, but grow very quickly. Before they know it, these two tiny puppies have grown into dogs and are herding the children around the furniture because they need room to run free. Another example can be found in aquatic life. Often times, people will purchase the pretty or neat fish without realizing the optimal size of the fish. This could severely limit the growth of the fish and cause health problems. Researching the right pet for your family is vital for a happy life of both the pet and the owner and to avoid donating unwanted pets into animal shelters.

Finances should also be taken into consideration when determining which pet is best for you. Although the pet may fit your lifestyle, certain pets may fit your budget better than others. By researching the estimated cost of your future pet, you will be able to determine what fits your budget as well as your schedule. Many pets require yearly or bi-yearly care to ensure their health. There are many ways to save money as well while you are a pet owner. Majority of these tips include preventative health, such as treating for fleas, preventing heart worms, and vaccinating your pets. To ensure proper care of your future pet, establish a budget for the pet you can easily follow.

The ability to devote the correct amount of time and attention is also key to owning a happy pet. Owning any pet takes time and dedication, so before adopting an animal, an examination of your schedule should be considered. An example of an unhappy pet that seeks attention is one that leaves little ‘presents’ in the house while the owner is gone for a long time or chews a hole through the wall in your living room. This behavior is not acceptable, but often times this is the result of an animal that does not receive the right amount of care. Every pet is different on the amount of attention needed, by looking into the breed or species, you can judge if that pet is right for you.

Socialization is a very important aspect of pet ownership. Without proper socialization, animals can develop fears of other people or animals which can lead to aggressive behavior. By bringing your dog to dog parks or on puppy play dates, your dog will become accustomed to interacting with other animals. Cats can harbor the same fears. When adopting a cat, more than one can help with socialization and limit fear of other animals. It is important when the animals are young to have friends come into your home so there is no aggression toward strangers inside your home. Socialization can avoid many behavioral issues.

Obedience training for dogs is imperative, especially for larger breeds. When a pet has the correct obedience training, the owner is more at ease taking their pet in public. Owners may trust their pet more if trained properly and many unwanted situations can be avoided. To avoid behavior issues, dogs should be trained either by their owners or by a training facility. This training should start early so the correct behavior is acknowledged by the dog for the rest of its life. It is also important to be consistent with training to not confuse the dog. Often times, shelters receive dogs based on behavior issues. It is very difficult to adopt out these dogs, and many times it’s a sad ending that could have been avoided.

Preventative health is the top most significant means to being a better pet owner. By taking your pet to the vet for yearly checkups, different diseases or illnesses can be avoided. Testing your dog each year for heartworms and using preventative medicine against heart worms can save your pets life. Thousands of dogs each year test positive for heartworms which is an extremely expensive treatment, prevent this parasite from infecting your dog is as easy as one pill a month. Each year your veterinarian can determine the health of your dog, or give you directions to maintain a healthy pet. For instance, if your pet has gained a few pounds, the veterinarian can establish a new diet or instruct you on how to change the current diet your pet is on. Maintaining a healthy weight is important for the animal’s well-being by avoiding complications that arise from being overweight such as joint problems and diabetes. Among the most important issues in preventative health affect humans. By vaccinating your pets, diseases such as rabies can be eliminated. Rabies is a zoonotic disease that is deadly to both pets and humans. By providing your pet with an annual rabies vaccination, this disease can be eliminated and illness can be avoided. Many of these illnesses that arise from not vaccinating or treating your pets can be quite costly, leading it to be much cheaper to avert any complications. Preventative health can save your pet’s life and your money.

After consideration of your lifestyle and schedule, if owning a pet is for you, then avoid these common mistakes to ensure a happy pet. Having a problem free pet benefits the owner as well by saving money and creating a positive atmosphere in the home. Of the most common mistakes pet owners make is impulse buying without researching, not training the pet and behavioral issues arising, and not bringing their pet to the veterinarian for preventative health. Although there are several steps involved with being a better pet owner, in the long run you and your pet will be much happier. All of the listed mistakes I have experienced or observed while working in a veterinary clinic and these mistakes are the most common and easily preventable. Every pet owner has the potential to positively impact an animal’s life; it just takes time and knowledge to do so to the best of their ability. Being a pet owner takes time and dedication, but by doing your best to fulfill your pet’s needs, you will forever have a friend and companion.

A. Jugan

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