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February is Responsible Pet Ownership Month

There's no shortage of messages from social media, blog posts, and YouTubers constantly urging those of us who are stressed out and overworked to make sure to carve out "Me Time," to eat whole foods, get exercise, or to make sure our relationships are healthy. Yes, it's excellent advice, but have you ever thought of applying this same advice to our canine or feline companions? Sure, you may think many of our pets seem to have a life of luxury. Still, suppose pet owners need occasional checks for how they're taking care of themselves. In that case, our pets need those check-ins even more so because they can't do it for themselves. When we welcome a new pet into our home, we really welcome them into our hearts. February is not only Responsible Pet Ownership Month, but it's also Valentine's Day when we profess our love to our significant others. Who could be more important than our furry friends?! Our pets love us so much, and the best way to love them back is to, every once in a while, do a 360-degree assessment of how you're doing as a dog owner as well as how your dog is doing. So, just as you would take time to evaluate all the areas of your life that keep you healthy physically and mentally, this month, you can do this for your pet and show them some love, too. We've gathered a checklist of things to review regarding your pet to make sure that you're doing the best you can to show them your love as their pet mom or dad. The Ultimate Pet Owners Checklist

  • Spay and Neuter your Pets - having your dog or cat sterilized is usually par for the course when you've adopted a new pet, but many people wait too long. By having your pet spayed or neutered, you will do your part to prevent unwanted litter. You'll also help protect your pet against health problems. It will reduce many of the behavioral issues due to natural instincts. If you decide to breed your pet, you'll need to care for and find them loving homes responsibly.

  • Food Quality and Weight of your Pet - now's a good time to review your pet's weight, food quality, and the habits you have as you feed your pet daily. Are you overfeeding your cat or dog? What about the ingredients of your pet's food? Are they meeting your pet's needs? You may need to reevaluate the food based on your pet's age. If you decide to change their food, be sure to do so very slowly, following the guidelines on the food package.

  • Exercise - Speaking of weight, this month is also an excellent time to evaluate your pet's activity. The winter months may mean shorter walks, or maybe walks are skipped altogether due to weather. So it's essential to check that your dogs are still getting daily exercise. You'll also want to schedule special longer exercise times to change up your dog's scenery.

  • Veterinarian - If it's been a while since you've taken your pet in for a check-up, make February the time for making an appointment. Make a list of items to go over with your vet concerning your pet. If you have questions about their food quality, discuss them with your pet's veterinarian.

  • Safety - Usually, pet adoptions offer microchips to be implanted into pets for identification and pet owner's information, but this is often a forgotten detail if you've moved or gotten a new phone number. Make sure to update any information connected to your pet so they can be safely reunited with you if they're ever lost. The same is true for dog tags; if they've been lost, worn, or are updated, now's a good time to get new ones.

  • Socialization - While this may not be a big issue for cat owners, dog parents will want to ensure their dogs get a chance for social interactions with other dogs. Whether you visit a dog park or get together with dogs of friends and neighbors, socialization is important. It helps to practice healthy behavior when associating with other dogs. The free play time will help get their energy out and get good exercise.

  • Care When You're Away - Even if you don't have immediate plans for traveling, this is a good time to plan to find safe and reliable care that you can trust when you have travel plans. Trying to plan a trip and find care for your pets simultaneously can be stressful, so take time to visit a dog kennel, ask friends, neighbors, or interview professional dog sitters. Doing this when you're not rushed to travel will give you time to find options and backups to make sure your pet will be comfortable when you're away.

  • Grooming - If you have the type of dog that needs regular care, you may already have a groomer you're happy with. Still, pet owners who may be wash up their dogs at home may want to consider sending in their pet to a professional groomer for extra care for their nails, ears and teeth. Sometimes your veterinarian offers these services. You may also want to review the pet grooming tools you use, do they need replacing? Or maybe look into option for your dogs bathing and grooming needs to ensure they get the best possible care.

  • Training - we recently posted about the importance of proper training for dogs so just in case you missed it, you can read about our advice on that in our previous post. Still, it's one of the most important things you can do to be a good pet owner, so we'll stress it again to be sure your dog is routinely shown care by proper training.

  • Picking up After Your Dog - Do we have to say it? Yes, we do…Pick Up After Your Dog! It may seem obvious, but maybe as a dog owner, you do pretty well with all the other nine tips for being a good dog owner, but you may be letting this one slide. Time to start committing to caring for your dog and your neighborhood by responsibly picking up after them. It's part of the deal when you decide to be a dog mom or dad, so yes, do the dirty work and bring some baggies on your walk with you.

We hope you're feeling motivated to review your responsibilities as a dog or cat owner and will take on new habits or check a few things on your list that you've been putting off when it comes to your pet. Of course, you can plan to pick up a special Valentine's Day doggie treat or toy, but true love is not just one day out of the year; a true love for your pet is taking care of their needs as best as possible and making adjustments if needed. If we missed something, let us know; what's on your checklist for being a good pet owner?

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