Pets are a huge responsibility, a full life commitment, and should be treated as genuine family members. If you’re reading this, you’re likely a responsible pet parent already, or you understand what it means to take care of a living creature.
Regardless, being a responsible pet parent is more than just providing food and water; you also need to do the following.
1. Choose Your Pet Wisely
As we discussed, owning a pet is a lifetime commitment.
While large dogs can live for 6 years, small dogs can live for 12 years, cats can live for 16, and other animals, like parrots, will live for over 60 years.
All pets have their own temperaments, personality, and care requirements, so you need to consider everything from your own lifestyle to whether or not you want children.
The stereotype of dog people being more extroverted and cat people being more introverted is a stereotype for a reason; both animals have different needs.
If you don’t have the right mindset going into pet ownership or consider your pets disposable, do not take on this responsibility.
2. Provide Proper Nutrition
Never go to the pet store and buy the first bag of pet food you see.
Always read the ingredients list to make sure the food is formulated for the current life stage of your pet.
Although this contributes to an expensive up-front cost, you’ll save significantly in the long run.
If you provide healthier food for your pet, they’ll live healthier, longer lives with fewer painful vet visits.
3. Buy Pet Insurance
Just like humans, our pets need insurance to protect them from serious health problems.
Also, similar to humans, our pets won’t be given access to the best pet insurance possible if they have pre-existing health conditions when they sign up.
Unfortunately, our pets can’t tell us what’s wrong (although we can guess from behavioral changes), so it’s better to visit the vet as often as possible.
Since this can become expensive, buying pet insurance is the best option.
When you neglect to buy pet insurance, you’re less likely to visit the vet as often, which can lead to worsening health outcomes for your pets.
This could increase the risk of persistent problems, which will cost you more money, or worse, your pet’s life.
It’s in your and your pet’s best interest to buy pet insurance as soon as you adopt them to save money and the health of your pet.
4. Spay, Neuter, or Fix
The most common pets, dogs and cats, need to be spayed, neutered, or fixed.
With so many homeless pets out there, responsible pet owners need to do their due diligence to ensure they don’t contribute to the unwanted pet population.
Most adoption shelters will factor in this cost when you pay to take your new pet home, but if you bought from a breeder, you’d need to pay out of pocket.
Adoption is the best choice for your wallet and the pet population.
5. Exercise and Play
All pets need adequate stimulation to live healthy, long-lasting lives.
Playing with your dog could involve taking them to the park and playing fetch, but your pup may prefer a tug-of-war session with their favorite toys.
Cats, on the other hand, like to play fight or practice hunting.
A simple string, a toy mouse, or tossing a tinfoil ball will keep your cat engaged during your sessions.
Regardless of what type of pet you have, it’s essential that your own physical needs match that of your furry friend.
Some dogs only need 30 minutes of exercise a day, while others need over 2 hours.
Some indoor cat breeds, like the Bengal, are more similar to dogs than cats and need a cat-sized hamster wheel to meet their needs.
Research your pet thoroughly before adopting.