3 Tips for Being a Great Pet Owner


Tell us the truth. Did you cave? Did you do it? Did you get a family pet for Christmas? We knew it!

Pets can offer a multitude of physical and emotional health benefits. There is nothing like the unconditional love you receive from your dog after a hard day, and studies have shown that pets can decrease blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, and reduce stress. Having a pet is a ton of fun, but it’s also a lot of responsibility. Listed below are a few widely accepted tips to help you and your children create a happy, healthy life for your furry friends.

Spending Time with Your Pet

To build a strong bond from the moment the animal enters your home, you must spend quality time together. That can be different for every person and even distinct to different breeds of animals. I typically start by talking to my pets and getting a feel for their reaction to me, but if you have an energetic dog, playing with them or going for a long walk may be the type of quality time that they need to adjust to this new relationship. I am writing this as I have my cat in my lap, which is his favorite quality time. This time together is for you and for your pet to develop your connection in your own way, but all pets need love and attention to feel safe, happy, and relaxed.

This type of close bond can also help with training and behavioral issues. At times, I felt as if my dogs could read my mind, especially if they knew that they were misbehaving. I could tell what they wanted when they wanted it from eye contact and their body language. Over the last year, I have adopted 4 cats. By giving my kitties so much love and attention after I adopted them, now they come running when I open the door. My recently adopted kittens were feral when I brought them home. They took a bit more time and convincing, but now they are so affectionate. Practicing patience and meeting your animals on their terms can allow them to build trust. Soon you’ll start to see their personalities emerge.

Research Healthy Food Options

Many brands seem appealing from their labels, but most have fillers and less nutritional value than an animal needs in his diet. These fillers and additives can eventually cause all kinds of illnesses, cancers, and health problems for your pet. It is also to be noted that some of these big-name brands encourage overfeeding due to the lack of nutritional value in their food, which makes your pet hungrier than he should be after a meal.

I highly recommend that when you first get a pet, have him seen by a vet to make sure that there are no underlying issues. During this visit, find out what diet that they recommend. After you know what to look for, take the time to research what food is the best option for them because it could make all the difference in the long run. By doing this due diligence from the start, it can prolong their life, which in turn cuts medical bills as they grow older. My beloved Lucinda was a Bernese Mountain dog with a life expectancy of 6-8 years. By feeding her the best food possible, taking her for long walks and adventures daily, and making sure that she was healthy, Lucinda lived to be 12 years old. Although she sadly passed last year, she lived a long and beautiful life because I made sure that she had the best food, care, and all the love that I could give.

Proper Grooming

If you have a long-haired cat or dog, taking care of their fur is so important to their overall health. A healthy coat is also tied into providing them with a well-balanced diet but keeping up with brushing their fur between grooming sessions is important. Part of their grooming regiment should consider the climate that they live in. For example, if you live in or are visiting a warmer climate, you should have your dogs groomed accordingly. Since Lucinda was a Bernese Mountain dog, she had notoriously long hair. Every summer we would give her a “summer cut” which allowed her to exist comfortably in warmer weather. Even though her summer haircut was not necessarily the traditional look for a Bernese Mountain Dog, I could tell that it made a huge difference when it was hot outside.

Another thing to note is to check your pet’s fur very thoroughly after a walk to make sure they don’t have any ticks on them. Along with proper tick and flea prevention methods, checking them after every walk can potentially save your pet from Lyme disease.

I, personally, tend to like animals more than most people, and I am sure that there are a lot of different ways that one can be a good pet owner. Attention, love, good food, exercise, and grooming may seem like basic needs, but these are the top responsibilities that I take very seriously with my pets. Adopting a pet isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly. They should be considered members of the family and treated accordingly.



India Blake is an award-winning photographer, writer, and animal advocate. Her work includes Before the Curtain Goes Up, a photographic journey behind the scenes of small-town theaters that shares intimate moments of preparation before a performance. Her book, Captured, combines her talents in photography and poetry, earning the Indie Excellence Award, Reader’s Digest Critics’ Pick, and has received praise from Joy Williams, Joyce Carol Oates, and Kirkus Reviews. Gypsy to the Rescue is India’s first children’s book.


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