February is Responsible Pet Owners Month. We all love our pets, and the best way to show your love is to meet their needs to keep them healthy and happy. Well-kept pets live longer, enjoy their lives more, and we get more time to enjoy them. 

We’re using the word “pet,” but we also mean any animal who depends on humans for its needs. This includes working animals like herding dogs, emotional support parrots, and draft horses. 

Here are a few tips on how to be a responsible pet owner: 

– Don’t neglect the vet. Put on your calendar to take your pet to the veterinarian for a checkup at least once a year or at whatever intervals your vet recommends. It’s a good idea to compare vets on factors like reviews, cost, and attentiveness. Regular checkups are essential to catch issues like tumors, tooth decay, and parasites before they get worse. 

– Make sure they eat right. Ask your vet and read up about what your pet needs. Think about if you moved in with someone and they would only let you eat pasta. It wouldn’t take long before you were malnourished and sick of pasta. There would be no pleasure in eating whatsoever, and illness can set in from issues like vitamin deficiencies. 

– Know the signs of illness in your pet. Get to know signs more subtle than limping or trouble toileting. The position of a rabbit’s ears will tell you a lot if you know what those are. A change in a cat’s grooming habits can be a cue that something is wrong, or something as simple as a dog’s tail hanging down when it normally stands up. 

– Get your pet some enrichment, like toys, mental stimulation, and exercise. Pets need things to do. Play encourages exercise and stimulates the brain, like when a cat chases a laser pointer or a dog chases a Frisbee. Bored pets can be depressed and irritable. We don’t like being bored and they don’t either. 

– Give your pet the proper training. An untrained animal can be obnoxious, even dangerous. Discourage a cat from clawing the furniture by giving them their own scratching post, and give your dog reward-based training not to jump on people or exhibit other problematic behavior. Take care to keep training and behavioral needs on your mind when getting a pet. 

– Have your pet microchipped if possible and set up an alternate safety plan, such as a friend who can feed your pet if you are suddenly incapacitated. 

Want to know more about the Paw Pet Pantry community? Check out our stories on our website.  To donate, learn about our needs here.  We value whatever you can give, whether it’s money, pet food, driving services, waste bags, referrals to donors, and more.  Drop us a line anytime. Thank you for helping us show love to animals in need and their humans. 

Sarah Wright, Paw Pet Pantry guest blogger sarahwrites.com



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