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Posted on 02-14-2018

Responsible Pet Ownership - What Does That Really Mean?

February is Responsible Pet Owners Month. Having a month dedicated to the idea of responsible pet ownership helps emphasize the importance of your role as a pet owner. While you are, of course, the provider of all your pet’s daily basic needs, you also do so much more as a responsible pet owner!

Pets depend on their owners for all aspects of their care. This of course means nutritious food, fresh water, and adequate shelter and protection from the elements. But have you also considered other aspects of your pet's routine? Daily exercise is an important component to build into your pet’s schedule. Your pet will enjoy the activity and stimulation, and exercise is an important step in helping pets maintain or achieve a healthy weight. Exercising your pet is also a fun way to deepen the bond you have with your pet.

Did you know that pets can get bored? This is why environmental enrichment is critical for all pets. Offer your pet opportunities to play with toys during the day, and rotate the toys often. You can play with your pet (you'll have fun too!), or you can use toys that encourage self-directed play (e.g., food puzzles). Find ways to provide visual stimulation. This could be as simple as placing a cat perch by a window that has a bird feeder outside – so get creative!

As pet owners, we are fortunate to have so many ways available to protect our pets from things such as heartworms, fleas, ticks, rabies, and the list goes on. It can perhaps feel overwhelming to try and understand all the things pet owners can do to help prevent problems with their pets. That’s why Lawndale Veterinary Hospital has created our ‘Paws to Protect’ section on our website. This section is devoted to covering all the ways that pet owners can be proactive in preventing and recognizing problems in their pets. Visit this section whenever you have a general question about your pet's wellness and preventive care!

Are you considering adopting a new pet? One of the most important aspects of responsible pet ownership actually starts before you even own the pet. Pet owners can have much more success with their new pet if they take the time to research and decide which pet is best for their particular lifestyle. Do you live in a small apartment with no yard? Then a giant breed dog may not be the right fit for you. Do you want a dog with high energy? Then perhaps you would enjoy a Jack Russell Terrier. Maybe you can’t imagine taking a dog for a walk multiple times a day, but snuggling up with a furry kitty sounds enticing? Then a fantastic feline just might be your next best friend! Pets are a big commitment and they do come with responsibility. So allow yourself to take the time to think about what you or your family are hoping for in a pet, and also consider what you can (or cannot) provide for the pet in terms of time, energy, care, enrichment, and commitment. Our veterinary team can be a great resource as well! 

Finally, if you are a pet owner who would enjoy sharing the importance of responsible pet ownership with children, then there is a program you may want to check out. The Guilford County Pet Responsibility Program is a local program that teaches fourth grade students about responsible pet ownership. You can visit their website, or read our previous blog to learn more!

Thank you to all of our pet owners for everything you do to show your pets how much you love and care for them. We love having you as part of our Lawndale Veterinary Hospital family! Happy Valentine's Day!

Author: Dr. Clarissa Noureddine, DVM, MS, MS