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7 tips for becoming the best pet owner ever

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February is Responsible Pet Owners Month, so now is as good a time as any to start trying to be the best pet owner you can be.

Your pets don't speak your language, so it can be difficult to understand their thoughts and feelings. So how can you tell if you're being a good pet owner?

The truth is, you may never know for sure. This month is Responsible Pet Owners Month, so now is as good a time as any to start trying to be the best pet owner you can be. Here are some ideas for improving your pet ownership skills and becoming even closer to your furry friend.

Going for walks and exercising your pet

Physical activity is important for both dogs and cats. Similar to yourself, pets need to burn off the food they eat so it doesn't lead to a pudgy stomach. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, about 35% of pets are overweight or obese, and that can lead to respiratory disease, diabetes, and liver disease. Regular exercise can prevent health issues, plus it's a fun bonding experience for you and your pet.

Research the breed

Although certain rules apply to all pets, each breed is special in its own way. Find out whether your pet has problems with travel or making friends with other animals. Try to match your lifestyle with the temperament of your pet too. If you're interested in a shelter animal, try to find out as much as possible about any trauma they've endured.

Keep them up to date on their vaccinations

Certain shots are required for your pets, and others are highly encouraged for their long-term health. The initial round of shots can be overwhelming, but it'll save you money and subsequent visits to the veterinarian in the future. Consult with your vet about when to get booster shots so your pet has minimal problems for their entire life.

Be attentive at dog parks

If you decide to take your dog to a park or off-leash area to play, make sure you watch what they're doing. They can easily wander off to find gaps in the fence or items they shouldn't eat. You also should pay attention to how they interact with other dogs so they don't get too aggressive or bullied. Socialization at these parks is highly recommended at an early age to prevent skittish or aggressive behavior.

Clean up after their messes

Cleaning up the yard or litter box after your pet goes to the bathroom is essential for keeping your home clean. Dogs are generally motivated to go to the bathroom in places they've already relieved themselves, while cats tend to avoid their litter box entirely if it is too dirty.

People in your neighborhood will also appreciate your cleaning efforts in parks and during walks.

Don't leave them alone too often

Your pets can function independently, but it's not a good idea to leave them home alone frequently. It's possible for both dogs and cats to develop separation anxiety, which can lead to destructive or attention-grabbing behaviors. Try to maintain a consistent schedule. Plan to visit your pet during the day while you're at work or arrange for them to go to a daycare where they can play.

Buy safe toys for them

Your pet can potentially choke on rawhide chews or bones if they swallow pieces that are too large. Don't buy toys that are too small because they could be eaten. Rotating toys can keep your pet intrigued while preserving the toys they have, especially if they like to destroy anything that's soft or squeaky.

Last but definitely not least, spoil your pet because they deserve it! Treats, cuddles, new beds, and fresh toys are priceless in the mind of your furry friend.

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.