Approximately 67 percent of households in the U.S. (that’s around 85 million families) own at least one pet. Have you recently joined this group?
Having a pet is very rewarding, but there’s a lot of responsibility involved as well. If you’re new to owning a pet, or if it’s been a while since you’ve had to take care of anything besides yourself, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed.
We’re here to help put you at ease, though, and give you the confidence you need. Read on for seven essential pet care tips every pet parent ought to know.
1. Visit the Vet
A key tenet of being a responsible pet owner is making sure your pet visits the vet on a regular basis. At a minimum, pets should see the vet for a checkup at least once per year.
Many pet parents skip regular vet visits and only take their pets in when something is obviously wrong. It’s understandable why people take this approach. Trips to the vet are expensive, after all, and it’s not always easy to get your pet into their carrier to take them.
Do your best to budget for vet appointments, though, and try to get your pet there even if they get a little antsy on the car ride over. It might be expensive or inconvenient to pay for and drive to their appointments. Remember, though, that it’ll be more expensive and inconvenient to have to pay for their medications and other treatments.
2. Get Them Vaccinated
In addition to taking your pet in for regular check-ups, be sure to get them vaccinated on time, too. Sticking to a strict vaccination schedule (your pet’s vet will let you know which ones they need and when) helps you to keep your pet healthy and protected from serious illnesses.
Remember as well that vaccines aren’t just for young pets. Older animals need them, too, although they might not need as many.
3. Make Them Easy to Identify
If you have a dog, cat, or another pet that has a tendency to wander, it’s important to take steps to make them easy to identify. It doesn’t matter how diligent you are about keeping the gate closed in your backyard or shutting the door behind you. At some point, there’s a good chance that your pet is going to escape.
To ensure that they get returned to you as soon as possible, invest in a collar and add a tag that includes their name, your address, and your phone number. You may want to look into getting your pet microchipped as well.
Remember to keep the contact information on the tag or on file with the microchip up to date. If the person who finds your pet only has an old address or phone number to work with, it’ll be much harder for them to track you down (and for you to be reunited with your pet).
4. Feed Them a Healthy Diet
In the same way that you feed your kids and the rest of your family the highest quality food you can afford, the same rule should apply to your pet. You might not be able to give them top-shelf meals every night. Do your best to make sure they’re eating a healthy, nutrient-rich diet, though.
Check the ingredient list on the back of their food and make sure it’s made with real foods, rather than a bunch of artificial flavors and colors. Steer clear of products that contain these ingredients, as they don’t provide any nutritional value and may have a negative impact on your pet’s health.
5. Keep Them Comfy and Safe
Make sure your pet has a comfortable place to rest their head. This could be a roomy cage in the case of a hamster or gerbil or a soft bed for a cat or dog. Make sure your pets have access to toys to keep them entertained (and less likely to destroy your belongings) as well.
In addition to focusing on comfort, your home should also be a safe place for your pet. Clean up loose cords or exposed wires that they might chew on or think are playthings. Get rid of any houseplants that might be toxic to animals, too.
6. Schedule Social Time
Not all animals require regular socialization. Some, like many types of cats, would even prefer to avoid it all costs. At the same time, other pets, especially dogs, need to have opportunities to socialize with their own kind of a regular basis.
Make trips to the dog park a weekly (or maybe even more frequently) occurrence. This gives your dog a chance to spend time around and play with other dogs. It helps you reinforce the positive behaviors they may learn in training in practical, real-world situations.
7. Limit Their Table Food
Finally, limit the amount of table food your pet receives. In a perfect world, they would only eat food that’s made for them. There are going to be times when you want to give them a special treat, though.
If you are going to feed your pet something from your plate, make sure it’s not on a list of foods to avoid first. Do a bit of research before you share something with your pet. You don’t want to accidentally poison them when you were just trying to give them a little taste of something, right?
Remember These Pet Care Tips
As you can see, there are some key things you need to keep in mind when taking care of a pet, be it a dog, a car, or a goldfish. Remember these seven pet care tips and you’ll have no trouble making sure your pet is happy and healthy.
Do you want to learn more about caring for your new furry (or scaly) friend? We have lots of other helpful resources available on our site. Visit the Living with Pets section today to keep learning.