If you own a pet, then you should know it comes with some responsibilities as well as fun and games. Being a responsible pet owner makes life better for your pet, the people it meets and for you, so let’s have a look at what you can do to be the best pet owner possible.
You have an obligation to keep your pet healthy under the law (the UK’s Animal Welfare Act of 2006), though as a loving owner, this is surely something you would want regardless!
The best way to make sure your pet is healthy (and, as per the law, protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease) is to register with a vet, and take your pet for an initial check up, and then regular checks as well as rushing them in when you’re worried about the symptoms of disease or injury. Regular check ups ensure you can catch the early symptoms or problems before they become too distressing, and start treating or managing them!
If you’re not sure if a trip to the vet is merited, or want some advice, then it’s worth looking for a vet online with a video call or live chat. While they can’t take blood samples, an online vet can look at your pet, and discuss the symptoms with you and make recommendations for treatment at home or advise if you need to make an appointment in person.
Training and Behaviour
This is more important for some pets than others – dogs, horses and any other animal that’s going to be out in the world under your supervision. Cats, while traditionally thought of as very independent, can be trained to a certain extent, but this is more important in terms of building your relationship than safety and responsibility.
Your dog will benefit from training, as understanding their role and having firm rules about what makes for good behaviour helps them feel secure! Training them to follow basic commands like coming when called, staying and sitting also keeps them safe while they’re outside, allowing them to enjoy the freedom to explore with a safety net. It also means your dog will be less intimidating to other people – some people are nervous around dogs, and it’s part of responsible pet ownership to make some accommodation for them.
Similarly, you’ll need to make sure your horse is trained so it’s comfortable around people and the various hazards and shocks it could encounter when out riding. This makes life safer for you, your horse and the people around you.
Exercise, Socialisation, Stimulation and Happiness
You need to think about your pet’s mental welfare as well as their physical health – if they get too little mental stimulation, exercise and in some cases socialisation, pets can suffer from anxiety or even depression.
It’s important to play with your cat, and make sure their environment is stimulating, especially if you’re keeping them indoors. Provide multiple places for them to rest at different levels (these don’t have to be expensive – cardboard boxes, shelves and chairs all make great watch out points for cats!), and different kinds of toys – feeding puzzle toys are a great idea to help your cat engaged and provide some extra stimulation for their busy feline minds.