For most of us, every week is National Pet Week. We love them and spoil them. We make sure they have the best treats and toys. A lot of us even give up most of our bed and personal space for our fur-family. This week is the 36th anniversary of National Pet Week.
In 1981, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) decided the first week of May was destined to be a week dedicated to celebrating the loving bond between pet-guardians and our pets. We also use this opportunity to encourage responsible pet ownership, because the moment we make the choice to become an animal guardian, we take on the responsibility of making sure our pets live the longest, healthiest lives possible.
The Choice & Preparation
Guardianship, or pet parenting as some of us lovingly refer to our role, is a big commitment. Here are just a few important considerations:
- This isn’t an impulse decision. It’s a well-thought-out choice. We need to do the research and shopping that will bring us to our perfect pet partner. Allergies, activity level, training, investment, and home are important factors. We can shop rescue sites and shelters, inquire in our network and read lots of online articles and books to learn about the best breeds for our personalities and lifestyles.
- Building a family, even a furry one, takes thought and time. Adding additional cats and dogs that match our lifestyle and who we can afford is important. Great food, quality vet care, and daily companionship are all an investment we need to consider. And we can’t forget that when we adopt, we are committing to companionship and care for the life of our pet.
- Bringing together pets, kids, partners, and others is a milestone. Introduce new pets with care. Prepare children by talking with them in advance of the pet arrival about being respectful and how to properly care for new fuzzy family members.
The Law & Limits
There are some quick tips worth paying attention to and often overlooked in the planning phase. Here are the biggies when it comes to maintaining a happy, healthy household.
- Most cities and counties have a limit on the number of pets allowed in each household. For those of us with big families, double checking ordinances is an important step that ends up as an afterthought for most people.
- For those of us who are first-time pet owners, courtesy and etiquette can have a learning curve. Respecting leash laws, poo pick-up rules, and following pet-park rules are a few basics. Training is an important component, too. Noise ordinances will be easier to respect when our dogs aren’t barking all day.
- Identity is important for us in the form of state-issued ID cards and passports. But our cats and dogs need identification too. Microchipping our pets and keeping their registration up to date means we’ll be more likely to be connected with our pets if they get lost or separated from us.
The Future & Planning
It’s no secret that taking on a new companion is rewarding, but it’s also an investment and takes planning. Here are a few ways we can build our new besties into our future:
- Preventative health care will keep our pets with us for the long run. We can make sure they are vaccinated and that we keep parasites, mites, and other regular health challenges under control. Spaying and neutering are also standard practice, not only for health but for the community. Overpopulation is a very real problem across the country.
- Budget for emergencies. Emergencies can include medical emergencies, but can also include an unexpected job separation that temporarily hurts our ability to pay bills. And don’t forget that we need to add our pets to our emergency disaster plan or create a disaster plan for the household if we don’t already have one.
- End of life care isn’t just for legacy planners and grandparents. We’ll be seeing our loved ones to the end and budgeting for a time that will be some of the most expensive years of their life will make things easier. Our beloved pets may need more medications and medical care, which can add up, so pet insurance and a savings account are key. They’ll also probably need a ramp to get into the car or around the house. Or they may require special food. Nobody can claim these as a surprise, so preparation and planning are only logical.
Pet adoption, caring for our family, and watching out for their health and well-being is part of how we show our love. We get their loyalty and adoration for just being in their lives. Let’s give them our love, attentive care, and responsible guardianship in return.