You Give Love a Bad Name: 8 Ways NOT To Love Your Pet
It’s Love Your Pet Day, you may want to give your pet extra tender, loving care. But not all tokens of affection are what they may seem. Here are eight ways not to love your pet today or any other day:
1) Feeding table scraps
No matter how much your pet begs for a piece of lunch meat or a bite of your hot dog, resist the temptation to feed your pet treats from the dinner table. People food just isn’t formulated for pets and therefore is much less nutritious and obesity-promoting. It can also become a bad habit to try to break, and you may catch your pet sneaking food off your counter or drinking from your glass when your back is turned. In addition, some table foods are downright dangerous for your pet.
If you’re looking to give a treat, purchase one made specifically for your kind of pet.
2) Feeding too much
Whether you’re giving too many treats or keeping the food bowls in front of your pet all day long, many animals are fed too much. It may be your pet isn’t getting as much exercise as is needed for her intake, or perhaps your pet eats to stave off boredom while you’re at work. There are many reasons why your pet may overeat, but it’s clear that doing so can lead to a weight problem and, with that, a lot of otherwise preventable health concerns.
Rather, keep the food bowl out of sight until a specified feeding time unless your veterinarian recommends otherwise.
3) Skipping the veterinary visits
Few pets like going to the vet, but just like me and you have to go to the doctor for regular check-ups, all pets should have regular check-ups with their veterinarian. There are so many deadly, yet completely preventable, diseases that can be prevented through vaccinations, regular blood labs, and general monitoring of health. Even for pets who live all their lives inside the house, regular visits to the veterinarian can help curb some issues — like weight gain, growths, or dental needs — before it’s too late.
Make an appointment for your pet today.
4) Not disciplining
Just like with parents and their children, our pets need structure and boundaries — it’s an inherent part of that pet-owner relationship. Your cat needs to know it’s not OK to jump on the counter or to lick the butter, and your dog needs to learn to urinate outside and that pillows aren’t chew toys. It’s easy to misunderstand disciplining as less than loving, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it’s never OK to strike your pet, withhold food, or use excessive crating as punishment. Understanding your animal’s natural behavior, giving treats as rewards for ideal behavior, and using gentle discipline techniques such as force-free training are ethical as well as effective.
Ask your veterinarian about a local pet behaviorist or pet training school if you need help learning how to discipline your pet or have an unresolved issue needing more expert attention.
5) Playing doll
Who doesn’t love cute dog or cat sweaters? While it doesn’t hurt to love our pets like our children, it’s important to not treat them exactly like babies. Pets who spend much of their time dolled up and riding in strollers may not complain — if they don’t seem to like it, then don’t do it — but they also aren’t getting the exercise they need to stay healthy. And a dog wearing a sweater on a hot day could overheat. So, go ahead and dress up your pet if he allows you to, but encourage him to walk to the park rather than always hitch a ride in the stroller.
That said, strollers are great for very young, elderly, or disabled animals. And sweaters are needed for certain hairless breeds in cooler climates. Just don’t overuse either if you don’t have to.
6) Overusing the crate
Crates are very useful tools for the dog owner, and many dogs come to see their crates as their safe haven. But it’s important to use the crate just as it is intended, whether for sleeping, riding in the car, or another reason — and never as punishment. Crates for dogs aren’t the same as a tank for a turtle or a cage for a parakeet. They need more time out than in, not only to get enough exercise but to be just what they were meant to be…your companion!
Limit puppy crate time to four hours at a time. While adult dogs can hold their bladders for longer, overnight is the longest duration they should be in a crate.
7) Mismatching lifestyles
All new pet owners have to make some adjustments to their lifestyle to accommodate their pet’s needs to be fed, watered, walked, and cleaned-up-after. But certain breeds of all pets need certain extra requirements, and not all lifestyles work for all pets. For example, a high-energy border collie needs room to run and just isn’t the best fit for an apartment. Likewise, the delicate-ribbed chinchilla isn’t the best fit for small children who want to cuddle.
Be sure to do your homework before deciding on your kind or breed of pet.
8) Not using a collar
It can take awhile for a pet, especially cats, to get used to wearing a collar. And you may not think your house cat needs to darn one all the time, but if your pet should slip outside without a collar and tags, it could be very difficult to find your pet if he would become lost. Ideally pets live indoors, but if you have an outside cat or dog, a collar is a must.
Collars are just a good all-around, inexpensive preventative measure to ensuring the best chance of your pet coming home again.
Rita Brhel is a freelance writer with a huge heart for animals that she's passed on to her 3 children. Rita herself has a cat named Tippy (in photo) and 4 finches. Her 3 kids and husband share an additional 3 cats, 3 small parrots, 3 rabbits, 5 pigeons, 8 chickens, and 2 ducks on their acreage near Hastings, Nebraska, USA. She has experience with a lot of different species of pets of her own, has worked a 1-year stint in a vet clinic as part of a hands-on journalism project, and has been a foster pet parent for an animal shelter. Each of her children dream of careers working with animals, and Rita wholeheartedly supports them!
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