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Monday, May 17, 2021

Top Tips for Responsible Pet Ownership

  Contributed/Collaborated Post:

Pet ownership comes with a huge responsibility. After all, you are in charge of a life; a life belonging to something that has to put their full trust in you. Here, we look at some tips for responsible pet ownership.

Image via Unsplash

Educate your children


All animals are entitled to the same level of respect, whether it is a pet snail or a pet horse. A responsible pet owner will teach their children, or any children that will spend time with or be involved with the animal that pet ownership comes with lots of responsibility, much more than a new toy.

Owning a pet is an ethical commitment and is something that should not be taken lightly. Explaining what having a pet entails can instill in children a sense of responsibility. This may mean that you will have to wait until they are old enough to comprehend the idea before getting them the pet they keep asking for. If they do not quite grasp the enormity of what being a pet owner involves, it will be mom or dad that ends up looking after them when the novelty inevitably wears off. That is not fair on the person doing the caring, the child, or the animal.

Consider all the smaller details


We adults are just as likely as children to become smitten with the thought of having a cute little puppy or kitten. We imagine the cuddles and the love that animals give us, but we do not always take the time to consider what it means on a daily basis as well as looking to potential scenarios in the future.

Animals require plenty of time, space, and financial resources to keep them not only healthy but happy, too. Do you have the resources to do this, both now and in the future? What will you do if you want to go on vacation or go traveling for an extended period - who will take care of them? What about when you are at work? While a pet sitter or kennels is fine for occasional short-term use, regular changing of caregivers can be unsettling and unfair on the animal. What if you need to move to a new house? Remember, not every place will accommodate pets. Are you likely to have children in the future, and if so, can you balance the care of young children with the animal? These are all things that you need to take into consideration.

Think about vet bills and medical care


Just like you go to the doctors for a routine health check, the opticians to see if you need some new glasses from Eyeglasses.com, or the dentist to check if your teeth are in good condition, your pet will need regular check ups. After all, they cannot tell you if something is not quite right - you have to pre-empt things as much as possible. If your pet does become ill or gets injured, vet bills can come with a very high price tag. Can you afford this? It is always a good idea to have pet insurance in place to cover this sort of scenario, to avoid making any heartbreaking decisions because of a lack of money.

Spend quality time with your animal every day


Animals thrive on love and affection, so make sure you are giving it in plenty. When taking on the responsibility of pet ownership, you are not only committing yourself to looking after their physical well-being but their mental well-being, too. This means taking them for plenty of walks if required, playing with them, cuddling them, and training them. This goes for all animals, whether they are dogs or cats or even mice and hamsters. 

Allow them to live alongside you comfortably


It is important to remember that we invited the animal into our lives of our own volition. They do not have much of a say in the situation. Boundaries must be established, but we must also ensure that our non-human housemates feel included in the family. Sleeping quarters and bathroom facilities should be comfortable and easily accessible. Inhabitants of fishbowls and cages should have a clear view of their surroundings, among other things, and interesting things to stimulate them. Make sure cats and dogs have safe access to an outdoor space; if you live in an apartment, consider whether it is in their best interests.

Try to adopt rather than shop


There are far too many animals languishing in pet shelters. While pet shelters undoubtedly do their best to look after the animals that they have in their care, it is no substitute for a warm, loving home. Not only that, but many pet shops and breeders are questionable in terms of their ethics and practices, so by buying from them, you are encouraging them. Instead of going to choose an animal from a pet store or a breeder like a commodity, go to a pet shelter and let the animal choose you. You may come away with something slightly different from what you expected, but you also come away knowing you are going to give an abandoned or neglected animal a whole new lease of life.

Remember that they are not fashion accessories


Many people buy pets in order for them to be nothing more than a fashion accessory -- from being very particular about the breed they want because of their features to dressing them up, it can take away their dignity. We need to identify our pets' needs, such as toys, food, somewhere to sleep, etc, but stay away from dressing them up. They have such little autonomy as it is; turning them into a fashion accessory simply exacerbates the problem.

Do you have the patience?


We are frequently so engrossed in the concept of adopting an animal that we overlook our own role in the process. What kind of pet owner do you envision yourself to be? Are you the right person for pet ownership? Do you have the right personality type? It might seem silly to ask this question, but it all comes down to planning ahead.

Spend some time thinking about your personality characteristics, even though you believe yourself to be the world's greatest animal lover. Consider a variety of scenarios in which you and your new companion could find yourselves.

The worst case scenario is that you will have spent a few minutes thinking bout the pros and cons of pet ownership, even though you already know the answer. It is much better to do that than to realize you have made a mistake after bringing home a new animal.

If at all possible, see if you can spend some time volunteering at a pet shelter for a while. Spending time with the animals will show you the good bits of pet ownership but also the not so glamorous and fun side of it too, and put you into various situations to see how you will cope.

In conclusion


It is indescribably fulfilling to choose to share your life with an animal. Their potential for unconditional love is much greater than anything we can give back.

Animals love us despite our many flaws. The only way we can repay them is to be decent human beings. At the very least, let us do it to the best of our abilities. We must treat them with the reverence that they are due. As a starting point, this entails abandoning the idea that we own them and instead seeing them as our equals.