Choosing which adorable puppy or kitten to take home with you is not the hardest part about being a pet owner, unfortunately. Very real responsibilities make themselves known once the life of another creature relies on you from day to day. Loving a pet is rewarding and fulfilling – but it can be hard work. Thinking through the following elements of ownership will ease your burden as a pet owner and will ultimately make your pet happier.
Be sure to spay or neuter your pet when they are young. Ideally, you should do so by their first birthday (pets are usually full grown by then). Unless you are an experienced breeder, a lot of unnecessary issues can arise from intact males or females going into heat.
According to WebMD, spaying a female before she goes into her first heat will greatly reduce the risk of mammary tumors later in life. Also, with so many homeless dogs living today – and abandoned animals being euthanized – spaying or neuter helps stem this overpopulation in a small way.
Get your pet vaccinated when it’s a pup or kitten as well as when it’s older. Vaccinations are a critical component of routine care to safeguard your pet against major viruses.
For puppies, WebMD asserts that the most important ones are:
- Canine Hepatitis
Whereas kittens’ core vaccinations should be for:
- Calici Virus
Make the responsible choice and bring your pets into the vet for their shots. Additional vaccinations may be required based on the age, breed and health of your pet – as well as the state of viruses circulating through dog and cat populations. Your local veterinarian will be able to answer your questions regarding these vaccinations.
Socialize your pet with other dogs, cats and people on a regular basis. Just as children need to interact with adults as well as kids their age to become well-adjusted, dogs and cats need exposure to others to grow comfortable. It is vastly more challenging to socialize your pet later in life if they were isolated while young and malleable.
Trips to the dog park, home play dates with other dogs or cats, routine human visitors, and positive obedience training are all important experiences which will help cement obedience and affection in your pet as an adult.
Provide your pet with a healthy diet and consistent exercise. Giving your beloved companion the food and activity it needs to stay in shape is truly a lifelong commitment. Older pets in particular are becoming obese more and more frequently – why not push against this trend by owning a healthy pet in its later years?
Most important is the comfort of your dog or cat, and feeding and exercising it right are essential to bring your pet this kind of joy.