Maybe you have a pet or are thinking of getting one. It’s important that you understand how to take care of a pet properly. Many pets are very loving creatures, and they are relying on you for proper care. Caring for a pet isn’t that hard, but it can be time consuming, so make sure you’re prepared to do it before you get one.
Preparing for Your Pet
1Research the type of pet, so you can make sure the pet fits into your environment and lifestyle. It is critical that you do adequate research before buying the pet. Different animals have different needs regarding care (for example, tropical fish cannot be treated the same way as cold water fish), and even within the same species, different breeds can have different needs.
- If you are buying a dog, then buying a high energy, large breed such as a wolfhound would be unsuitable if you live in a small apartment or spend all day at work and have nowhere to let the dog roam in the day. Focus on the pet’s needs, not your wants.
- If you want an animal like a snake instead, research is still important. It is critical that the snake has enough space to crawl around in and a heat source (such as a lightbulb).
- If you’re leading an active life, choose a dog. If you are away from home a lot, though, choose a cat or some other free-roaming animal. If you just want an animal to look at and don’t want to interact with it directly, or don’t have lots of time, choose a fish or a snake, or other creepy-crawlies.
2Choose your breed carefully, especially if you have children. It’s a mistake to just decide “I want a dog” (or any other animal) and to buy the animal without considering the needs and requirements of the breed.
- Some breeds are natural shepherds, which makes them great for 1 person, but some breeds (Border Collie, for example) have the sheep-herding instinct in their blood. This means that when a child roams too far from the rest of the “herd,” the collie will try to get it back. How does it do it with the sheep? It bites them. This may result in grave injuries to children. Please do your research on how breeds behave.
- It is important that a pet lives in an environment where it will be comfortable, safe and provided with what it needs. Some animals are very adaptable, such as cats, which can live happily in environments ranging from farm land to city centers, while others have more specific needs. For example, horses must have a lot of pastureland and somewhere safe to shelter.
- For animals that will roam the house, not being confined to tanks or cages, they will need places to sleep that are out of the way of general household traffic, where they can lie without being disturbed, such as the corner of a room. If they are a cat that will often be shut indoors, then it is also important that they have a litter tray that is regularly cleaned out.
3Be realistic about your budget, and your ability to shoulder responsibilities. Some pets are more expensive than other pets, and you need to be honest with yourself about whether you can afford the pet – and whether you have the time and maturity to handle it.
- Costs associated with pets include set-up supplies. Depending on the kind of pet, you might need a crate, an aquarium, and leashes.
- Don’t forget the ongoing costs of caring for a pet. You need to factor in the cost of regular food purchases, but also whether you can afford to take your pet to the veterinarian for preventative care (like shots), not just emergency care. That’s essential to keep the pet healthy, and it can be quite costly.
Keeping Your Pet Healthy
1Exercise your pet if it’s the kind of pet that needs it, such as a dog. Figure out the exercise needs (if any) of the pet before you buy it, and consider whether your lifestyle gives you enough time to meet them.
- Some pets don’t require you to do much beyond providing them with a safe place to move about, such as buying a run for a rabbit, and making sure the tank is large enough for fish. But other pets must be exercised.
- Dogs require a more hands-on approach to exercise because they need to be walked regularly. Making sure your pet gets enough exercise can help prevent aggression and destructive behaviors.
2Watch your pet’s diet carefully. Many foods that are edible for humans can be inappropriate for animals, making them ill when they consume them, so it is important to research what foods your pet can not eat as well as those they can eat.
- Overfeeding is as harmful as underfeeding, so it is important that your pet gets the amount of food it needs and not too much extra. For some animals, dietary requirements may change with the season; for example, if you have horses or other grazing animals, they will often require more hay during the seasons when there is less grass.
- Look at pet food labels to make sure you are purchasing food for your pet that is properly nutritious. Research which food could harm your pet.
- It is vital that all pets have a constant water supply. Check water bowls at least once a day to ensure that they have enough water and that the water is clean and not contaminated.
3Consider whether your pet needs to be groomed. Many animals will largely take care of themselves, only really needing to be groomed or bathed when they manage to get very messy. Others, such as long-haired dogs or cats, may need regular grooming.
- It is a good idea to desensitize your pet to being groomed or bathed from an early age. When brushing fur, ensure any brush used on the face is soft, and if brushing long, tangled fur, take the time to work out knots gently rather than tugging. You can buy brushes for pets at pet stores.
- When bathing your pet, make sure that the water is lukewarm and that the products you use do not cause an allergic reaction – buying specialist shampoos is not always necessary, but heavily perfumed products may cause a rash for many animals.
- Consider taking your pet to a professional groomer if you aren’t sure you are competent to do it. You don’t want to accidentally injure the pet.
4Monitor your pet for illness and injury. As pets cannot tell us when they are ill or injured, it is up to us to keep an eye on them and look out for any signs of injury.
- Knowing your pet’s normal behavior is very important; if they are sick or injured, they will often act unusually, such as sleeping more, going off their food, etc. If they begin to act oddly, check them for any injuries and keep an eye on their food and water intake; if they stop eating or drinking, or they have obvious wounds that are concerning you, then take them to the vet.
- Make sure that your pet has all of the proper vaccines and other preventative medication suggested by your veterinarian, such as heart worm pills for some dogs.
Giving Your Pet Attention
1Train your pet if it’s the kind of pet that needs it. A major part of caring for a pet is training. Training is essential for the safety of the animal and the people who interact with it.
- If you have an apartment cat, the litter box is very important from the start. You have to teach your cat to use the litter box and to think of it as its only place to do the necessary business. The litter box needs frequent cleaning (once or twice a day, depending on the cat). Feeding is approximately 2 or 3 times a day, again, depending on the cat. Water should be supplied continuously.
- Dogs need to be trained so they understand proper behavior, such as where to go to the bathroom and not to jump on people when they enter the house. It’s important that the owner establishes control, but never in an abusive or harmful way to the animal.
2Make time for your pet. Some animals require more attention than others, so the amount of time they need is often relative. Just be sure than you are capable of fulfilling whatever that need may be.
- Try to take a little time out of each day to spend with your pet, even if it’s just sitting down with them. More often than not, your pet would be more than happy to relax with you.
- Dogs should be walked, and hamsters need time to run around in their balls.Play should be fun for both your pet and you, but make sure it is safe and monitored at all times.
- Research whether your pet breed needs to socialize with other animals. Play with it – dogs are very social animals so they need to spend time with their owners. With toys or simply chasing him around is enough for exercising. Dogs have a natural craving for chewing things, so buy a chewing toy to keep him entertained.
3Love your pet. Love is what your relationship with your pet has to be about. Show him or her your affection by petting and playing.
- Your pet will be a member of your family, so treat it like one. A good cuddle will do the both of you good. Pets respond to the tone of people’s voices as well as touch.
- Horses need attention. Like wild horses, if you don’t love them properly, they pretty much turn into mustang. Give them a treat once in a while, take a walk with them, or ride them for fun.
- Train a pet with positive reinforcement, never cruelty or abuse.Keep your pet and its environment clean.
- If you have a small animal, clean their cage weekly. You’re not showing your pet love if you let it sit in filth. If you have a dog, vacuum fur regularly from the house and wash their dog bed from time to time. Neglecting to clean your pet could result in infection, so keep on top of its cleanliness!