When we invite a pet into our lives, we get a new friend and family member. As we go about integrating Fido into family life, we need to remember that pets are totally dependent on us for everything. While we all provide for our pet’s basic needs, other things like safety can be overlooked. The actions we take, or don’t take, may put our pets at risk. Take a look at the ideas below to help you prevent problems that could impact the well-being of your pet.
Exercise: this helps keep your pet fit and healthy. Exercise also contributes to improved mental health. A bored and overly stimulated pet can get into trouble easily.
Incorporate your pet into your life: while many pets perform a service for their humans (assistance dogs), their most important role is to be a member of our family. The best way to bond with your pet is to incorporate them into as many family activities as you can.
Hire a pet sitter: if you have a very busy schedule or travel often, a professional pet sitter makes it possible for your pet to stay at home in comfortable surroundings without a significant break in their routine.
Travel: if you travel with your cat or dog, guarantee the safety of your pet by using special seatbelts designed for dogs or an appropriately sized crate. This prevents pets from being thrown in an accident or interfering with the driver.
Identification: have an ID on your dog or cat. Dogs should wear their registration, rabies and ID tags. Consider having your cat wear an ID tag too. Look into microchipping for both cats and dogs. Veterinary offices, local animal control and most humane societies have universal chip readers and can ID pets that are brought in as “strays.” By having ID on your pet, you increase the chance of Fido being returned should he ever get lost.
Grooming: all pets need grooming care not only to look their best but for overall health. The type of grooming depends on the species of pet and other factors like coat and breed. Learn about what is recommended for your pet through your veterinarian or a professional groomer and then incorporate into your schedule. Don’t forget to include ear cleaning, nail clipping and dental care as necessary.
Basic household safety: pets are naturally curious and love to explore their surroundings. This can get your pet into trouble quickly if safety precautions aren’t in place. Keep household cleaning supplies, medications and garbage secured and behind closed doors. Keep tables, rooms and counters free from clutter and small, chewable objects. Keep your windows screened and/or closed to prevent falling. The things we do to child-proof our homes are the same things we should be considering for our pets.
Socializing in public: follow all applicable laws when out in public with your pet. Be respectful of the needs of others. By following good sense, you ensure that pets will be welcome. Don’t put your pet into a situation that he cannot handle; you risk a setback in training and social development. Instead, make sure you work on training every day to build your pet’s confidence and skill. Then introduce them to public “appearances” slowly and be prepared to exit the situation should your pet become overwhelmed.
Children: teach children how to appropriately approach your pet. When meeting a dog, children need to ask permission, approach slowly, pet calmly and avoid hugging or restraining among other things. When meeting cats, children need to respect body language like hissing and flat ears. They also need to understand that when the cat walks away, that is their way of saying “enough attention, please.” These steps will help your pet be safe around children and will help young people learn empathy for pets.
Training: this is for the lifetime of your pet and is necessary to creating a solid bond and good social skills.
Problems: don’t procrastinate if you suspect health or behavior problems. In most cases, problems are more easily handled sooner rather than later.
Your will: make arrangements in advance for the care of your pet should you become ill or die. It may be helpful to consult with a lawyer on this issue. This will help ensure that your pet will receive the love and care he deserves should something happen to you.