It seems like there is a day/week/month for EVERYTHING these days. Literally. While some can seem a bit silly, others can offer times of recognition, and I am all for raising awareness and educating people about important causes.

It just so happens that February is Responsible Pet Owners Month, and this is something that we can totally get behind. While this notion of being responsible might seem like common sense to some, we wanted to share a few tips and thoughts to those who might be considering getting their first pet and are wondering what it entails (and we of course hope you’re considering finding your next furry friend at the local animal shelter).

Becoming a pet parent is a lifelong commitment and this responsibility should not be taken lightly. While being Mom or Dad to a fur baby should be taken seriously, there are some very easy steps that we should all take to ensure a long and happy life together!

  1. We can’t stress it enough – please make sure to spay or neuter your dog, cat, or rabbit (consult your vet regarding other small or exotic animals). Each day, there are more and more unwanted animals showing up at shelters and being surrendered due to no fault of their own. To help control the unwanted pet population from getting worse, spaying or neutering is the most effective way. The ASPCA estimates that 7 million animals enter shelters nationwide each year and sadly 2.9 of them are euthanized. Be apart of the solution, not the problem.
  2. Annual veterinary checkups are critical to your pet’s happiness and are a very important part of being a responsible pet parent. Just like us, pets can have a wide range of issues and all are usually very treatable with proper and early detection. If you are concerned about cost, you can always look into one of the many amazing insurance companies, such as TruPanion, that help cover routine visits (and so much more)!!!
  3. Make sure to ID and/or microchip your pet. Current ID tags on your dog or cats collar can help bring them home safe and sound if they wander out of your sight. Also, talk to your vet and consider a microchip for your pet. If your pet is ever lost or stolen, a quick scan will provide rescuers with your contact information and can help ensure a very happy ending.
  4. Animals are curious by nature, especially in their younger years, so it is critical to pet-proof your home. Some hazards are a bit more obvious than others (we can all probably agree that those exposed wires are not the best idea, right?) but are you familiar with the common houseplants that are toxic to animals? For a complete list of these hidden dangers, read more here.
  5. Just like us, what we feed our pet is incredibly important. Animals also need a balanced diet and as responsible pet parents, we should be careful of weight gain to avoid issues such as diabetes, heart disease, and so many more.
  6. As a Mom of both fur kids and a human version, I have realized how similar they are in theory when it comes to being responsible and prepared.  I ask people this all the time: “If you were having a human baby, wouldn’t you read the books and take the pre-parenting classes”? Nine out of then people say “yes.” Then I ask them, why would it be any different if they are becoming a pet parent for the first time? As we stated in the beginning, bringing home a new pet (or simply a new breed/species for the first time) requires the same amount of preparation. Please take the time to consider where the animal will sleep, eat, and play. Who will care for them when you are away? Will you need to hire a dog walker? What will you do if an emergency arises? Will you take the time to go to puppy classes or behavior classes if needed? I urge everyone to ask themselves these very important questions before you bring home your new companion. Perhaps, if some people were a bit more prepared, fewer unwanted animals would end up in shelters.

Opening your home to a furry companion is one of the best things you can possibly do (in our humble opinion)!  They provide years of unconditional love, companionship, and provide indisputable health benefits. While choosing to own a pet is a decision that should not be taken lightly, we ALL have the potential to be responsible pet owners. Let’s take this month to be extra responsible and encourage others to join us too!