At least 70% of US households or 90.5 million families have pets. What many don’t realize is that they require nearly as much care and preparation as human babies.
Pets are as innocent and dependent as children. You need to learn how to feed, care for, and train them or risk making several dangerous or deadly mistakes.
If you want to be a responsible pet owner, read on to learn how to avoid 8 common pet owner errors.
1. Choosing the Wrong Type of Pet
There’s one mistake that increases your likelihood of making many other pet owner errors; not doing enough research. Reading an article like this one is an important first step in preventing this common problem.
The most common types of pets in America by the percentage of households who own them are:
- 69% dogs
- 45.3% cats
- 19.4% exotic pets
- 11.8% freshwater fish
- 9.9% birds
- 6.2% small animals
- 5.7% reptiles
- 3.5% horses
- 2.9% saltwater fish
Look into which of these animals is the best fit for your lifestyle and budget, then choose the right breed or species.
2. Not Budgeting Properly
Americans spend about $99 billion on their pets every year. Before adopting one, create a budget to determine how much you can afford to spend.
Consider all the most common pet costs, including:
- Vet bills
- Buying pet food
3. Not Getting the Proper Vet Treatments
Americans spend $30.2 billion on vet treatments for pets. They’re an expensive but necessary part of pet ownership.
Never give your pet medication meant for humans or another animal because this can be deadly. Don’t give them anything your vet hasn’t prescribed for them, either.
Pet owners give several reasons for not spaying or neutering their animals. They may think it will cause them pain or long-term harm.
In reality, the process has several benefits. In addition to controlling the pet overpopulation problem, it increases their lifespan, prevents testicular or ovarian cancers, and improves their behavior.
Dental treatments are one of the most undervalued. Dental chews help, but you should also brush their teeth every day and get them regular cleanings from a vet at least 1-2 times per year.
Don’t ignore ticks or fleas or troubling symptoms such as consistent vomiting. Be sure that the vet also keeps them up to date with their heartworm prevention and vaccines.
4. Creating the Wrong Environment
Animals need comfortable homes as much as humans do. Dogs need a backyard large enough to roam in, and you should have at least 2 litter boxes for each cat and clean them regularly.
Small animals such as gerbils and hamsters need a clean cage with the right bedding. Temperature-sensitive reptiles can die if their cage is too hot or cold or doesn’t provide enough basking areas.
Fish need the right water to stay happy and healthy. Exotic aquatic animals such as the axolotl need the right tank. If you want to know how to set one up, read a step-by-step guide here.
5. Improper Training and Socialization
Socialization should begin no later than when a pet is 3-12 weeks old. Introduce them to as many new animals and situations as possible.
Take dogs as an example. Slowly introduce them to many other dogs, cats, children, and adults. The only word of caution is not to risk aggression by introducing them nose-to-nose.
Pets are like children in many ways. They need a consistent routine, get bored quickly, and respond better to positive reinforcement than punishment.
Give them a reward when they obey you. Don’t give up when they fail to perform, but don’t make training sessions go too long. Let them know what to expect and develop consistent rules.
6. Insufficient Exercise and Mental Stimulation
Restlessness, boredom, hyperactivity, and obesity are all signs that you may not be giving your pet enough exercise. Encourage your hamster to get on its wheel, take your dog for more walks, or play with your cat more often.
Pets also need to stimulate their minds. You can kill two birds with one stone and give them toys that make them move and think. Proper training for pets also keeps their minds working.
7. Food and Water Issues
Budgeting isn’t your only concern when buying pet food. Make sure it’s the right type for your pet based on its breed, health, age, and other factors.
Be careful how often and how much you feed them as well. It’s tempting to keep the food bowl filled at all times (and they may make noise until you do), but this can encourage them to overeat.
Water is also essential to prevent dehydration as well as urinary tract and kidney problems. Make sure your pet has a constant supply from a bottle or bowl that you refill regularly.
8. Improper Grooming
Every pet requires some sort of grooming. You may have to help a snake shed its skin or brush your dog’s fur.
We’ve already touched on the importance of keeping your pet’s teeth clean, but their nails must also be kept at the right length. They can grow into the footpad causing pain and infection. Chronically overgrown nails can even affect the way they stand and cause arthritis or joint problems.
These issues may require an expensive vet visit to fix. Prevent them by trimming your pet’s nails regularly, whether they’re a large canine or a tiny gerbil.
If you’re struggling to keep up with your pet’s grooming requirements, you may need to call on a professional. Send your long-haired dog or cat to the groomers from time to time for better, quicker results.
Where to Learn About More Pet Owner Errors
Pets are a fixture in most American houses, and you can return the joy they bring you by keeping them happy and healthy.
Choosing a pet starts with research and budgeting. Find one that fits your lifestyle that you can afford to care for.
Other common pet owner errors center around environment, food and water, veterinary care, training, socialization, exercise, and grooming. Research what they need and set it up before bringing them home.
Read the rest of our content to learn more ways to ensure you and your pets live your best life together.