|Tips to Consider Before Purchasing a Pet|
The decision to purchase a pet is a big one and includes many big responsibilities. The following describes some of the things a responsible pet owner should do to ensure their pets are well-cared for.
1. Be an Informed Pet Owner
One of the most important things you can do when considering a pet is to make sure you are acquiring a pet that suits your lifestyle so that you can care for it properly. Consider your activity level, your schedule, whether or not you have children or plan to have children and your experience with pet ownership. Adopting a pet from a humane society, SPCA or rescue agency is a good way to ensure you are matched with a pet well suited to you. Many shelters have incorporated a matching process into their adoption procedures to find the best pet for an adopting family.
2. Spaying / Neutering
There really are no good reasons not to spay or neuter. Overpopulation of pets is a growing problem in municipalities across Canada and spaying/neutering is important in overcoming this problem, and also makes for a happier, healthier pet. Spaying and neutering can prevent many undesirable habits like roaming, spraying/marking, and can help reduce aggression. Spaying and neutering can also help prevent certain diseases, including some types of cancer.
In Canada, 43% of cats and nearly 19% of dogs brought into shelters in 2004 were euthanized. Do your part to reduce this problem by making sure you spay or neuter your pet.
Pet Identification through tags, microchipping and/or tattooing is important to ensure your pet will be returned to you if it is ever lost. Licensing is required for dogs in most municipalities and is increasingly required for cats.
4. Training and Socializing
A well-adjusted pet requires at least basic training, for dogs, preferably with a professional trainer, and socialization around other dogs and all kinds of people. It is important that you expose your pet to various different situations, people and environments so it learns to cope with and react to different situations in a healthy way.
It is important that pets have at least annual veterinary check ups to ensure they are healthy and will live a good long life. Spaying or neutering helps prevent health and behavioural problems, and it is important to keep an eye on your dog’s health to make sure it is not being overlooked. If you are worried about your dog at any time, don’t hesitate to contact your vet.
Regular exercise is very important for your pet, especially if you have a dog. Make sure you know what the appropriate amount and type of exercise is for your pet’s age and breed and that you are mindful of how the weather, including cold or hot and humid days, can affect your pet. For example, schedule exercise times so that you do not take your dog for a walk at the hottest time of day.
It is important to groom your dog on a regular basis by brushing or combing its coat, keeping its nails clipped and brushing its teeth. Specific grooming requirements will vary from dog to dog, so check with your veterinarian to determine how to best take care of your dog. If needed, look for a good professional groomer with a clean location and quality references.
Both dogs and cats have special dietary requirements for the various stages of life and it is up to you to provide your pet with everything he needs for a long and healthy life. Pet obesity is a serious health concern so please don’t overfeed your pet. Check with your veterinarian to determine exactly what your pet’s needs are. Fresh water should be available at all times and should be changed at least once a day.
The best place to house your dog or cat is in your home with your family. When left outside for extended periods of time your dog will be deprived of the companionship necessary for its health and happiness. Whether inside or outside, make sure your dog’s housing and bedding is kept clean, dry and warm. Crate training is an ideal way of confining a puppy when you are not there to supervise; crate training helps with housebreaking and prevents the puppy from chewing inappropriate or dangerous items. Cats should ideally be kept indoors and not be allowed to roam loose where they will face numerous dangers.
10. Pet Insurance
Although pet owners hope their pet will always be healthy, unexpected accidents or illnesses can occur. The veterinary appointments and treatment required can get expensive very quickly, but pet insurance can make the bills manageable. Plan ahead and look into insurance plans for your pet.
11. Know and Obey Local Bylaws
Make sure you are aware of your municipality’s bylaws, especially with regard to licensing. Respect local leash laws and remember that it is a common courtesy of responsible pet owners to pick up after your pet.
Many pet owners enjoy taking their dogs with them on car trips. If you choose to do this, remember that dogs should not be left in vehicles during warm weather as they can quickly be injured or killed from the rapid heating of the parked vehicle. Chaining your dog while you go on errands is not a good idea as he can escape, be stolen, injure himself or cause harm to people and animals passing by.
Find out if your chosen accommodation will accept pets. If you will be travelling by car, plan lots of rest stops to exercise your dog and provide water frequently. If travelling by plane, contact your airline for travel rules. Trains and buses typically don’t accept dogs, except recognized service dogs.
If you are going on vacation, find someone who will take good care of your dog. Your veterinarian or local SPCA or Humane Society may have recommendations for pet sitters and reputable kennels.
13. Keep your Pet Close to Home
You should always know where your pet is at a given time; do not let him roam free unless he is in an enclosed space such as a backyard with a tall fence. Dogs should not be chained for long periods of time. Your neighbours will appreciate this and it will help prevent your animal from being lost or stolen. Make your pet a part of the family by spending quality time with him!
© 2007 - Photos of "Pete Dickson" courtesy of Alex and Ava Dickson
Reprinted by permission of The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies.