Owning a pet is a privilege and should result in a beneficial relationship for both the owner and pet. However, the benefits of pet ownership come with obligations, and responsible pet owners provide for their pet’s needs in many ways.
• Choose wisely - Avoid impulsive decisions about obtaining a pet, and select a pet that’s suited to your home and lifestyle.
• Make a commitment - Make plans for the full lifespan of your pet. Some pets, such as small rodents, may live for a few years, but large parrots can live for more than 100 years!
• Make an investment - Recognize that pet ownership requires an investment of time and money.
• Know your limits - Keep only the type and number of pets for which an appropriate and safe environment can be provided, including appropriate food, water, shelter, health care, and companionship.
HEALTHY & HAPPY
Keep your pet healthy and happy. Partner with your veterinarian to preserve and protect your pet’s long-term health.
• Seek preventive care, such as regular examinations, vaccinations, and parasite control.
• Work with your veterinarian to provide timely and appropriate treatment for your pet’s illnesses and injuries.
• Provide exercise and mental stimulation appropriate to your pet’s age, breed, and health status.
• Socialize and train your pet, which improves their well-being and the well-being of other animals and people.
• Prevent your pet from negatively impacting other people, animals, and the environment through proper waste disposal, noise control, and not allowing your pet to stray or become feral.
• Do your part to address our country’s pet overpopulation problem and avoid unplanned breeding through spay/neuter, containment, or managed breeding.
PREPARE FOR THE UNEXPECTED
• Make sure your pet is properly identified (i.e., tags, microchips, tattoos, clear photographs) and that the registration information in associated databases is kept up-to-date.
• Prepare in advance to ensure your pet’s well being in the case of an emergency or disaster, including an evacuation kit.
• Make alternate arrangements if you can no longer provide care for your pet.
• Recognize any decline in your pet’s quality of life and make timely decisions in consultation with a veterinarian.
CHOOSING A VET
Finding a veterinarian is relatively easy. Use the American Veterinary Medical Association’s handy online tool www.MyVeterinarian.com to search. Recommendations from family and friends can also be of great help. However, finding the right veterinarian for you and your pet is what’s really important. Here are a few tips:
• Check out prospective clinics and veterinarians by paying them a visit, with or without your pet. Is the clinic/hospital clean and orderly? Ask if you can take a tour of the clinic.
• Pay attention to how the veterinary team talks to clients and how they act toward the animals in the clinic. Are team members readily available to answer your questions or address your concerns? Do they answer your questions in a way you can understand? One of the most important considerations is how the veterinary team makes you feel. Ask yourself if you would be comfortable having your pet in their care. Trust your gut feeling. If you like a veterinary team but can’t pinpoint why you like them, you’re probably in the right place. If you’re there with your pet for an actual visit, do the veterinary team’s explanations of the exam findings and treatment plans make sense to you?
• Are the clinic’s office hours compatible with yours? How do they handle after-hours emergencies: do they see clients, or do they refer you to an emergency clinic? (It’s best to find this out before you need to know it in an emergency situation.) Do they accept your preferred form of payment? If you have pet insurance, does the veterinary hospital accept that plan?
• When choosing your family’s veterinarian, use the same care and criteria that you would in selecting a physician or dentist. Think about what is important to you. Location, office hours, payment options, and the range of medical services provided are all important considerations. For many pet owners, the most important factor is the friendliness and commitment of doctors and staff. Your goal should be to find the veterinarian who you believe can best meet your pet’s medical needs and with whom you feel comfortable in establishing a long-term relationship.
For more information about the American Veterinary Medical Association, visit www.avma.org.