5 Things Every Pet Lover Should Know
Published on August 13, 2014 by Staff Writer
Chances are, you or someone you know is part of the 62 percent of households that has at least one pet. Dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, rabbits and birds are just a few of the animals we commonly choose as pets.
Being a responsible pet owner means you have spent some time observing your pet and learning what makes them tick—and how to remove ticks, if needed. You don’t have to be a vet tech to understand a few basics of pet care; you only need to have experience.
Here are five things every pet lover knows.
- Adopting a pet is a multi-year commitment.
Pet adoption is an exciting and rewarding experience—one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Potential pet owners need to consider all the areas in which owning a pet will impact their lives. From living arrangements to financial obligations, pets require a great deal of care and attention in order to have the best possible quality of life.
Ideally, we should be willing to take care of our pets for the duration of their lives. Dogs have an average lifespan of about ten to 12 years, and cats can live as long as 14 years. Check out this list to see the lifespan of other pets.
- Pets can get chubby, too.
When you’re at the dinner table and your pets are looking up at you with their big, puppy dog eyes and whimpering as if they haven’t eaten in weeks (even though you just fed them), it can be hard not to give them more food. But the instant gratification they get in the short-term could lead to unhealthy weight gain in the long-term.
In a recent study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, an estimated 53 percent of adult dogs and 58 percent of adult cats in the U.S. are classified as overweight or obese by their veterinarians. This puts them at risk for a variety of weight-related health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease, cancer, heart disease and an overall decreased quality of life.
Smart pet owners know that they need to regulate the amount of food they give their pets (including treats), and make sure they are getting plenty of exercise.
- There’s a pet for every family.
Due to common pet allergies or certain housing limitations, not everyone can have a dog or a cat. But there are a plethora of other pet options for people looking to bond with a member of the animal kingdom.
For example, birds make fairly low-maintenance and entertaining pets, especially the more vocal types such as conures and canaries.
Reptiles such as turtles, lizards and even snakes (for the brave among us) are fascinating animals to watch grow and develop.
Fish can also be a fulfilling hobby for people as they learn how to care for different types of fish and other sea creatures. Also, what better conversation piece than a beautiful, well-maintained freshwater or saltwater aquarium on display in your living room?
- Pets need regular check-ups.
Just like we need regular visits to the doctor, our pets need special attention from professionals who understand them better than we do. It can be easy to assume our pets are in good health as long as they are getting enough food and exercise, but without routine check-ups, underlying health problems can go untreated for years.
A good physical examination includes taking the pet’s temperature, examining their skin and coat as well as their eyes, ears, nose and mouth and listening to their heartbeat and lungs for any abnormalities.
Unfortunately for us, our pets can’t simply tell us when something is wrong. Many pet owners are shocked to find out that their pet is harboring an undiscovered tumor or has infected gums or loose teeth. Regular check-ups are meant to catch health issues early on and treat them before they get any worse.
- The right pet can change your life.
We probably don’t need to be told that our pets make us happier, healthier and more fulfilled individuals. Still, the science is in: pet ownership can lower blood pressure, reduce your risk of heart disease and lower anxiety.
Allen McConnell, PhD, a psychology professor at Miami University who studies human-pet interaction, said, “Owning a pet gives you a sense of purpose and belonging that can increase feelings of positivity and lower stress levels, all of which translates to health benefits.”
So give your pets an extra long hug today and maybe even an extra treat. They have way more to do with your health and wellbeing than you even realize.