February is Responsible Pet Owners Month, and considering that a recent poll showed more Americans have pets than have children — it’s actually a month in which most people should be participating.

Responsible pet ownership includes proper veterinary care, obedience training, feeding fresh pet foods, providing attention, grooming and exercise, and wearing identification at all times.

 

Dr. Katy Nelson, veterinarian and host of The Pet Show with Dr. Katy, tells you 7 ways you can participate:

1 – Make an Appointment with Your Veterinarian for ALL of Your Pets

Regardless of whether they’re indoor, outdoor, furry, feathered or finned – all pets require proper care. Ask for a thorough physical exam to be performed, have their teeth and weight checked, and discuss with your veterinarian the proper immunizations, preventive medications and supplements that they recommend for your pet’s lifestyle and lifestage. Have your pet spayed or neutered (if they’re not already), and ask about microchipping to keep them safe. And finally, encourage your friends and family members to do the same.

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2 – Get Training!

Behavior problems are the number one reason that dogs and cats end up in shelters. Whether you have your pet professionally trained, or you simply buy a book and do it yourself, training and socializing your pet can greatly reduce their chances of getting lost or ending up in a shelter.

3 – Know Nutrition

Educate yourself about your pets’ nutrition requirements. We all try and eat fresh foods because we know they are healthier for us than highly processed options, yet we’re perfectly comfortable feeding a food coated in preservatives and low in nutritional value to our pets, whether simply out of convenience or because we’re unaware of better options. To learn more about the benefits of all natural fresh pet food click here.

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4 – Spend Time with Your Pets!

There’s no better exercise partner than your dog, or cuddle buddy than your kitty. But it’s not only incredibly beneficial to them, it’s also every bit as good for you. Numerous studies have shown the health benefits of pet ownership to humans – from lower blood pressure and cortisol (stress hormone) levels, decreased incidence of allergies in children, and even increased survival percentages after heart attacks – it’s a proven fact that our pets make our lives, and our health, better. So, return the favor, give them your time and your love… as you know theirs is unconditional for you!

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5 – Grooming

Grooming is more than just an occasional bath – grooming is great for your pets’ health. Daily brushing of the hair and the teeth allows you time every day to examine your pets’ skin and mouth, notice any changes in weight, or new lumps or bumps that may appear, and it’s also just more of that quality time spent together that we just talked about.

6 – Watch Their Weight

Over 60% of American pets are overweight or obese. Obesity has been linked to increased risk of heart disease, joint disease, diabetes, skin allergies, and even cancer. One study showed dogs that are overweight die an average of TWO YEARS sooner than those that are normal weight. That’s 14 years in dog years! What to do about it? Discuss your pet’s weight with your veterinarian, create a nutritional plan, and get out there and exercise with them. It will help with their waistline, and maybe even yours!

7 – Get Proper ID

Finally, keep proper identification on your pets at all times, even if they’re inside all day, or only go out periodically. If your pet escapes, the greatest chance they have of getting home safely to you is if they’re wearing a proper collar with current information on their ID tags. It also helps IMMENSELY if they are microchipped, so as I mentioned before, discuss that with your veterinarian at your pet’s next checkup.