Loving your pet isn’t enough. You also need to protect your pet, and be a good neighbour, by being a responsible pet owner. A few tips to get started:
Spay or neuter your pet: Fixing your pet not only prevents unwanted litters, but it can also help your pet live a longer and healthier life. The majority of pets who come to shelters as strays are unaltered – when pets aren’t fixed they are more likely to escape and “look for romance”. Learn more
Vaccinate your pet, and provide other preventative care: Illnesses like parvo in dogs and panleukopenia in cats can kill your pet. But they can also be prevented with a simple vaccine. Preventative veterinary care like vaccines and heartworm prevention may seem expensive, but they are a bargain compared to the costs of treating your pet if they develop an illness.
Socialize and train your pet: Young animals require exposure to many different situations to grow up well adjusted and friendly. But training doesn’t stop with puppies. Think an old dog can’t learn new tricks? Think again! Training your pet to follow basic commands will not only make them a better housemate, but could also save their life in a dangerous situation like running into a busy street.
Remember that any dog can bite: Even the friendliest dog can bite if they are frightened or backed into a corner. YouTube videos showing kids pulling cat tails or riding on a dog’s back may seem cute, but often the pet is showing signs of serious stress. 77 percent of dog bites come from a family or friend’s dog. Learn how to protect your family. If your dog does bite another person or animal be responsible. You are normally responsible for the injured animal’s vet bill, and it is important to take precautions to ensure that your pet doesn’t bite again.
Be a good neighbour: When walking your dog or allowing your cat outside please remember to clean up after them. No one likes to step in someone else’s mess, and cleaning up after your dog is the law in most communities.
Keep walks safe: In most communities dogs must remain on a leash unless they are on their own property, or in a designated off-leash area. This not only protects your pet from dangers like cars, but it also shows respect for others who may fear or dislike dogs. Remember, even if your dog is friendly not every other dog is, so keeping them safe often means keeping them close.
Make your pet part of the family: For dogs, living in a backyard or on a chain is a lonely and sad life. Dogs thrive on companionship and need to be with their human pack. Provide your pet training so you will always want them to be part of your household. The safest options for cats is to keep them inside, but if you do allow them outside ensure that they are wearing identification and only allowed outside for short periods.
Tag and chip your pet: A municipal dog license is required in most municipalities. Ensure that you purchase a dog license for your pet annually, and that your pet wears it. If your dog is wearing a current municipal license when they come in to the Humane Society as a stray their reclaim fee will be waive. In addition to a license tag, consider microchipping your pet as well. Microchips are permanent, which provides life-long protection. But remember to update the contact information attached to the microchip if you move or change your phone number.
Be aware of weather: While you may want your pet to be with you, during warm weather the safest place for them may be at home. The temperature inside a car can reach dangerous levels quickly, even when the weather seems mild. Cold weather can also be dangerous. Ensure that your pet is provided with proper shelter and fresh water during all times that they are outside during cold weather.
Exercise your pet: For dogs, walks are not only important for exercise, they also help to enhance your dog’s quality of life. Smelling new smells and meeting new people can be the highlight of your dog’s day. Remember to keep them on a leash unless you’re in a designated off leash area. It’s easy to forget that cats need exercise too. While they do spend a lot of time sleeping, a game of “catch the feather wand” or “stop the red dot” can help to prevent your tabby from getting tubby.