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5 ways to honor Responsible Pet Ownership Month

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Caring for your pets is a full-time commitment that involves proper feeding, training, and exercising.

There are few things more rewarding than a wet kiss or a warm snuggle from your pets. Caring for an animal and earning their love and respect isn't always easy, but your efforts to be a responsible pet owner go a long way in keeping your pets happy and safe.

1. Spend time with your pets

Your pets become attached to you as you bond with them, so every activity you do with them strengthens your friendship. Even if it's just a short car ride, a walk around the block, or a brief play session on your lunch break, your pet will benefit from your dedication. The flip side of spending time with your pet is not a pretty sight. Your pet might act lethargic, stop eating, or even destroy things if they become depressed or develop separation anxiety.

2. Feed your pet properly

Pay attention to your pet's weight and appearance. You can check your pet's weight even when you're not at the vet by stepping on the scale with and without them and then calculating the difference. Make sure the food you give them is balanced with necessary nutrients, and talk to your veterinarian to determine a proper diet. Avoid table scraps, which could be fattening or toxic. Strive for daily exercise, either indoors or outdoors, and keep your pet hydrated during strenuous activity.

3. Train your pet

You might think your pet is the smartest in the world, but the reality is that animals need mental stimulation to stay healthy. You can train your pets to do tricks and solve puzzles, which maintain your pet's mind and delay mental decline. Proper training is also important in social situations with other pets and people. Socializing your pet within the first few months of their life is vital to their ability to interact positively with others. Study your pet's behavior in public and take note of any problem areas that make your pet angry or scared. This will help prevent fights or injuries in the future. Sign up for training classes or search online for helpful tips to teach your pet good behavior and social skills.

4. Give them a clean home

If your trash is overflowing or food is sitting on the counter, your pets can get into it and possibly become sick. Clean their personal space, so they don't learn to go potty in that area or develop infections. If you allow your pet into your backyard regularly, store your tools in a safe place, and sweep up debris that can hurt your pet's paws or get stuck in their mouth.

5. Spoil your pet

This last one is the easiest of all. Your pets will always appreciate new toys or treats. Just make sure you buy toys that don't have choking hazards or that may become rough enough to scratch the inside of your pet's mouth. Use treats to reward good behavior, especially when teaching new tricks, but don't overindulge them. Your pet may learn to expect a treat all the time. Look for low-calorie brands that include fresh, natural ingredients so your pet is snacking on something healthy.

Part of being a responsible pet owner is also monitoring their overall health. If you suspect something is wrong, reach out to your vet for advice.

Have a question about pet health? Want to become the best possible pet parent? Find helpful tips, reminders, and insight to giving your furry friend the best possible care with For Pet's Sake! Learn more at drdevonsmith.com.