How to Be a Better Pet Owner: Finalist 6

Today, we have another one of the fabulous essays from the finalists in our Veterinary College Scholarship Essay Competition.  It has some great advice on how to be a better dog owner:

One of the most important facts to realize about pet ownership is that it is not just a privilege, but a responsibility. Our pets rely on us for food, shelter, and water at minimum. There are many steps that one can take to be a better pet owner. The first step is to research the type of pet that best suits your availability, family life style, and personality. Our pets are a huge part of our life and often pets become a part of the family. It is important to care for your pet and give them the same love and dedication as they give us.

The second step is ensuring vaccinations and shots are always up to date, especially when you have a pet that goes outdoors.  Scheduling routine check-ups with a veterinarian, keeping health records up to date, and constant communication with the veterinarian are all vital to your pet’s health. If applicable to your pet, having their teeth checked is something that should be done at least 1-2 times per year as well.

A third step to being a better pet owner is evaluating your pet’s needs .If the animal needs exercise/socialization, make sure you have the time to dedicate to fulfilling your pets needs. Daily exercise and socialization is especially important for dogs. If you want to own a dog, but work long hours, ask a friend or family member to take the dog outside at least once a day. Exercise will ensure your pet maintains good body condition and a healthier lifestyle. If you are an active person, then a high energy dog is probably best for you. If you are more of a laid back person that prefers to stay indoors, then a cat or smaller pet may be more suitable.

Another supportive step is staying consistent with training. Obedience and behavior problems are the number one reason animals end up in shelters. Most pets will require training and will need to adjust to your lifestyle. Taking the time to train them and staying consistent with it is vital in the success of training your pet.

Keeping the area and environment around your pet clean is important in reducing the risk of your pet contracting a parasite. The environment and your pet will thank you for a clean living area and keeping the waste level at a minimum. Also bathing and grooming our pet as necessary with the proper shampoos will aid in maintaining good hygiene.

Lastly, reading nutritional labels and asking a veterinarian the recommended amount of feed to give your pet is vital in your pet’s health. It’s important to educate yourself on the nutritional needs of your pet based on their activity level, size, and metabolic need. Obesity is dangerous to the health of your animal and many people over feed their pets. Another important fact(s) to know is what NOT to feed your pet. Knowing what is toxic to your pet and how to avoid it is important.

These are just a few of the many steps to being a pet owner. Getting to know your pet, reading their body language, and understanding their needs are essential components to pet ownership. Ensure you can fulfill the duties and obligations of pet ownership before bringing your pet home.  Consult with your veterinarian and do not rely on the internet as the primary means of advice for caring for your pet.


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