10 habits to make you a successful pet parent

Being a responsible pet owner entails more than just giving your pet food, water and a safe space to live in. A responsible pet owner makes his cat, dog, bird, or whatever animal, a part of the family, spends time with him and makes sure that all his needs are met. Here are 10 habits that make owners responsible pet parents.


1. Commitment

A pet owner commits to taking care of the animal for the duration of his lifetime, in sickness and in health – not just until the novelty of a new pet wears off.


2. Quality food

Buy the best quality food that you can afford. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the most expensive food is the best choice for your pet. Discuss your pet’s nutritional needs with your vet.


3. Regular feeding and fresh water

Ideally, dogs should receive two meals a day to prevent illnesses like torsion (when a dog’s stomach becomes twisted). Puppies should start off with three meals a day. And make sure that your pet gets fresh, clean water every day. Don’t forget to wash his bowls every day too.


4. Loving attention

Your pet should receive some of your undivided attention every day and he should always feel loved. This also means that he needs to be able to trust you and not be afraid of you. Therefore, you always have to treat your pet with respect.


5. Training

Bored pets sometimes get up to mischief or develop behavioural problems. To prevent this, it is important to teach your pet new things. Look at the article on page 54 to see how training strengthens the bond between owner and pet.


6. Regular exercise

A responsible pet owner makes sure that his pet gets adequate exercise to get rid of excess energy and to help him stay healthy. Before you embark on any new exercise routine, consult your vet about a programme that will suit your particular pet.


7. Grooming

You will need to take care of all his grooming needs, and this includes coat care, brushing his teeth, cleaning his ears, clipping his nails and whatever else is necessary to keep him clean and healthy.


8. Medical attention

Your pet depends on you to ensure that he gets medical attention if he falls ill, has an accident or sustains an injury, or simply to ensure that his vaccinations are up to date. To make this a little easier financially, consider getting medical insurance for your pet. To keep you pet in good health, take him for an annual vet check-up, and twice a year if he is a senior pet.


9. Parasite-free

Ticks, fleas and worms are a reality, and it is the responsibility of the pet owner to ensure that the animal doesn’t have any parasites. There are a variety of preventative programmes to choose from. Ask your vet for some advice. Also see the article on page 18 for ways to prevent ticks and fleas.


10. Fun things

A very important thing you can do for your pet is to do fun things with him. Fun means different things to different animals. For example, your cat probably wouldn’t enjoy an afternoon in the swimming pool, but a hunting game would be right up her alley. Most dogs enjoy a game of fetch, but if your dog is a large breed puppy, you might want to keep the running and jumping for when he is older. Keep the games interesting and within your pet’s capabilities.


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