How to Take Care of Animals: The Ultimate Guide for Pet Owners
Taking good care of animals is essential. After all, we are responsible for our pet's health and their quality of life.
This is why we've put together this guide that encompasses everything you need to know to be a good pet parent.
We explore what responsible pet ownership means, how you can maintain good pet health, and what proper pet care entails, alongside our expert advice and top tips.
Responsible pet ownership
Good pet health
Proper pet care
Responsible pet ownership
A responsible pet owner ensures their situation is just right for a pet. You need to be completely ready for a new furry friend before you commit to owning one.
To be a responsible pet parent, you must consider the physical space you can offer a pet. With more and more apartment blocks accepting tenants with pets, the more indoor-kept animals there are. This isn't necessarily an issue as long as the animal has enough space to live a happy and healthy life.
If you're keeping an indoor cat, make sure they have:
Enough space to run and chase toys
More than one room they can explore
Vertical space to climb as well as floor space
An area dedicated to their litter box and food bowls
If you want a dog, alongside regular outdoor exercise, make sure they have:
Ideally a garden
Multiple rooms to explore
Enough space to run and chase toys
An area for food bowls
It's extremely important that small animals in cages have enough space. Use the following guidelines:
Hamster cages should be at least 100cm x 50cm x 50cm
Rabbit hutches should be 4 times the size of your bunny, 3 times their length, and 2 times their width. They should also have access to a secure outside area.
Guinea pig hutches should be 27 inches x 56 inches
When you own a pet, your time is their time. If you're a busy workaholic who spends their day in the office, their evening in the gym, and their weekends traveling, then having a furry companion is unlikely to work.
A pet needs your time, and in particular, your quality time. Taking on caring for another life is no easy feat. For many dogs, they'll need at least an hour to two hours of exercise every day. Likewise, a caged animal needs to spend time outside of their cage every day. A cat, while less demanding, will still need your company.
Important Reminder: No matter how much you may want a pet, if you can't give them the time they need to live a high quality of life, it's important to wait until you can.
Surprisingly, being a responsible owner isn't all about you. It's also important to consider those around you. Ask yourself:
Do the people you live with also want a pet?
Do you have supportive family and friends who help care for your pet?
Do you have children? Will they/do they respect your pet?
The most common reason I see for rehoming a pet is because the owners have had children, and they don't have enough time to give their pet the attention and love they need. So, don't only consider your current situation. Consider your future plans, too, because a pet will likely be there!
Good pet health
A key element of taking care of animals is being responsible for their physical health. A healthy pet is a happy pet, after all!
For animals to have good health, they need a balanced diet that provides all the nutrients they need, much like us humans! The basic needs of most pets include:
Vitamins and minerals
Depending on the type of pet you own, they may need more or less of a specific nutrient. Other factors can determine their ideal diet, too, like:
The best way to develop the perfect diet for your pet is to talk with your vet. Many pet food brands cleverly market their products to specific types of animals, promising that they contain all the nutrients they need. However, this isn't always the case.
Top Tip: Once your vet has advised what your pet needs more of or less of, start reading the ingredients list on the food packages to make sure you're providing your furry friend with everything they need.
Pet grooming may seem like a luxury, but actually, it's a necessity. For your pet to be comfortable, they need their teeth, coat, and paws to be well looked after. Without regular grooming, your pet may experience:
Brush their teeth as much as you can (daily is recommended)
Only bath them when they are visibly dirty or have something on their fur
Expert Insight: Other small animals have different needs. For example, Chinchillas require dust baths for their specific type of fur. Make sure you do your research on your furry friends so you can properly care for them.
As for humans, exercise is an essential part of pet wellbeing. A good level of exercise keeps them fit, healthy, happy, stimulated, and prevents disease.
So, for a long and comfortable life, exercise should be prioritized. Now, this can sound obvious for dog owners, but it may come as a surprise that exercise should be incorporated into almost every pet's life. It can help:
Maintain a healthy digestive system
Maintain a healthy circulatory system
Lowers blood pressure
Prevent mood or behavior issues
So, for dogs, this means plenty of exciting walks. Be sure to research the specific breed of dog you own and their needs, as it makes a huge difference in their optimal exercise time.
For example, a husky or a German shepherd would need around 2 hours of exercise daily. In contrast, a Yorkshire terrier would suffice with a good half an hour!
But how do you exercise a cat? Or a caged animal? Well, if you have an indoor-outdoor cat, then you probably don't need to worry. Their solo adventures can see them walk for miles, following scents and surveying their territory.
However, indoor-only cats may need a little more stimulation. It's important to ensure they have enough space to run and climb. Once you have established this, a good play routine can keep them healthy. Try:
Remote control toys
For caged animals, wheels they can run on and plenty of space are essential. It's also important to have out-of-the-cage time in a secure area that they can run around in and explore.
Proper pet care
So, we've covered the more obvious physical elements of caring for pets, but what else do they need? Well, one of the most important parts of owning an animal is caring for them emotionally and offering unconditional love and attention.
While we may assume pet care relates to the more physical care of animals, like diet, exercise, and grooming, attention is what makes a caring owner.
Pets are sociable creatures that need attention to avoid feeling neglected. While walks are great for dogs, if you aren't interacting with them during this time, they won't feel connected or trusting of you as an owner.
To build a bond with your pet, you need to give them your quality time and your attention. This can be as simple as talking to them, sitting with them, or stroking them. And while this may sound obvious or come very naturally to animal lovers, all of us are guilty of becoming complacent sometimes.
Animals are intelligent. Some more than others, admittedly, but all are sentient, learning beings. As owners, we shouldn't underestimate this or ignore it.
Without enough stimulation, you risk your pet:
Developing behavior issues
Developing mood issues, like anxiety or depression
A great way to entertain your pet and keep them engaged and interested is through training, and this doesn't just relate to dogs!
Cats and other animals can learn simple commands and tricks. It may be challenging, and it may take a lot of time and patience, but it will build the bond between you and your pet and keep their brain ticking away.
Another important element of stimulation for dogs is the development of their socialization skills. Socializing puppies is a well-known practice, but many owners forget that their dogs need continuous socialization with other animals and people.
Try the following:
Going to dog parks
Going to dog meet-ups
Going on walks with friends and family members who have dogs
Taking your dog with you on day trips
Taking your dog with you when you visit your family and friends
Last, but by all means, not least, is love. All pets need love to feel safe and comfortable in their environment. After all, we are our pets' whole lives; we are all they know.
When we show them love and kindness, they will trust us and trust people in general. Training and stimulation are all important for an obedient and well-behaved pet. However, a well-rounded and adjusted animal needs to be shown love.
And this doesn't just benefit them. There have been countless studies that show loving a pet can benefit us in the following ways:
Teaches us empathy
Reduces depression and anxiety
So, next time you find your dog traipsing mud on your white carpet or your cat throwing up a fur ball on your new sofa, remember everything that they give you and love them unconditionally.
Why should we care for animals?
We can take care of animals by ensuring they have a healthy diet, are groomed regularly, get enough exercise, and are loved and cared for.
How do you show love and care for animals?
You can show love and care for animals by spending quality time with them. This includes cuddling, stroking, napping together, and prioritizing their wellbeing.
How can we take good care of animals?
We can take good care of animals by treating them like our friends and family. Ensuring they are happy and healthy should be a priority, and we can do that by showing them love and attention, ensuring they have a good diet, and ensuring they are well-groomed and taken care of.
What are the basic needs of animals?
The basic needs of animals are food, exercise, stimulation, and care. With these, animals should live a long and happy life.
How can you show respect for animals?
You can show respect for animals by taking good care of them. This means prioritizing their wellbeing by providing them with a good diet, regular exercise, regular grooming, and attention.
How do you make animals happy?
You can make animals happy by giving them quality attention and love. This means spending time with them and engaging with them in play, training, and affection.
Responsible pet ownership is key in taking care of animals. This means you prioritize your pet's health with regular vet visits, regularly groom them, and provide mental stimulation as well as exercise.
Many pets are unfortunately neglected because people don't realize what goes into pet parenting. Unconditional love is a must!
If you're considering owning dogs and cats or any other pets, make sure you're ready and in the right situation.
In this blog, I combine my two areas of expertise: pets and writing. I share my personal experiences alongside plenty of animal behavior research to help owners look after their pets. I have always lived with furry friends and am now a loving cat mum to two orange kitties.