1. Research before getting a new pet
It's important to consider what kind of animal is right for your family and lifestyle before choosing one. If you are not home often, an energetic puppy or kitten might not be the right choice for you. It's not fair to the pet, and your house will most likely suffer the consequences. An older dog or cat might be a better option, as they’re lower maintenance and don’t require as much attention. Also research which breed is right for you. Whether purebred or a mix, each breed comes with its own distinct personality type and care requirements.
2. Make pets comfortable in their own home
Your pet will likely spend most of its time in the house so it’s important to make them comfortable in their environment. Make sure to do things like always keep their water bowl full, give your dog has access to a potty area whether that be a doggy door or indoor potty pad, keep your cat's litter box is fresh and accessible, and provide a bed for them to snuggle in so they don’t have to lay on the hard floor all day.
3. Keep their environment safe
Make sure there's nothing hazardous inside your home that your pet can eat like chocolate, candy or gum with Xylitol, kids toys, household cleaners or other common household items and foods that are sometimes lethal for pets. Also make sure your dog or cat’s play area is free of other hazards such as electrical cords, string, and yarn they can eat or get tangled up in. Outside, check that all holes in the fence are patched up so your dog can't get stuck or escape and be sure to keep all lawn chemicals out of reach.
4. Properly ID your pet
No one wants their pet to get lost, but accidents happen. The best way to help prevent losing your pet for good is getting them a comprehensive, digital pet ID such as a PetHub tag. There are many reasons to choose a digital ID tag but the main two reasons are that PetHub tags come with a free online profile and access to a 24-hour emergency hotline where someone can help in the process of reuniting you with your pet. With the online profile, you can upload a picture of your pet, provide important health information, list multiple contact numbers, give contact information for your pet’s veterinarian, plus more. Each tag contains a QR code that gives the finder access to the information stored online.
5. Microchip your pet
While a visible ID tag is best, tags can sometimes fall off and get lost. A microchip is a tiny computer chip painlessly embedded under the skin that contains a unique identification code. This identification code can be read with a scanner at a vet clinic or animal shelter and will be entered into a database to pull up the pet owner’s information. It’s important to microchip a pet even if they are “indoor only” in case they get spooked and run out the door. Always make sure to update the chip with most current information if the pet changes hands or you move.
6. Keep your pet active
It’s important to walk your dog daily or interact with your cat or dog via toys to stimulate them physically and mentally. Not only will they act out if bored or stressed from pent-up energy, but pets who are active tend to live longer. It's healthy to get their blood flowing and mind working.
7. Train your pet
Some owners have the misconception that their animals will behave when they “grow out of” the puppy stage. While they might calm down and learn a few traits on their own, they need your guidance. Start by training them when they're young so it becomes a habit. If you have a particularly hyper or stubborn breed and need further help past basic training, invest in getting private lessons. Animal behaviorists can help too if you are having a specific issue. Trainers like these have a vast amount of experience with all kinds of dogs and cats and know how to get through to them.
8. Wash their water and food bowls
It can be easy to overlook animal's food and water dishes, but it's important to wash them regularly like you would your own. Dirt, grime and bacteria can build up in them and make your pet sick. If you leave a bowl outside for them in the summer, make sure to regularly change and clean that as well.
9. Trim their nails
Long nails can make walking painful for your pet and eventually lead to joint issues, so it's important to keep them short. Dogs with curly dewclaws need to especially be watched when they get longer, as they push into their paw pads. While you'll probably be able to trim your cat or small dog’s nails by yourself, invest in taking your larger dog to a salon if you're unable to perform the duty on your own. It's worth the money for your dog to be pain-free.
10. Take your pet to the vet
Be sure to take your pet to the vet if you suspect something is wrong. It can be hard to tell when something is off with an animal since they can't speak up for themselves, but be aware of symptoms that are uncharacteristic of how they normally act. If they are lethargic, not eating or drinking, or feel hot, call the vet to make an appointment. It's better to get them checked out and on medication if needed than for it go on for a long time and have something worse happen. Even if you don’t suspect anything is wrong, be sure to take your pet in for a wellness check at least annually.