Looking to become a pet owner? Well, then you’re in great company. It’s estimated in the United States alone, that every two out of three households have a pet living in the house. Out of those homes, a whopping 95% of Americans consider their pet a family member. But it’s easy to see why so many do.
As children, pets are one of the first things that teaches us responsibility. As well, they help protect us from developing allergies at this age. As we become older, our pets become important stress and anxiety relievers in our lives, so much that pet owners see lower rates of heart disease and depression. Last, and perhaps the most important, they are always there for us, whether we’re young or old.
Because of these reasons, many of us just can’t live without a pet in our house. In fact, many would say their home or family isn’t complete without a little nugget running around, making a muck of things. But before becoming a pet owner, it’s important to know what owning a pet looks like. After all, while many of us consider having a pet essential, there is a lot of responsibility we take on. Not just for their sake, but for the sake of those around us.
Responsible Pet Ownership
To start, let's go over what it means to be a responsible pet owner.
Owning a pet, whether it’s a dog, cat, or iguana, is a big decision and a privilege — this is very important to understand. Many people think of their pets as their children, some see owning a pet as a starter for having a child, then others see their pet more as a co-worker.
None of these are inherently wrong, as long as the pet is having their needs taken care of. This brings us to our first point.The Right Pet For You
It’s crucial to do the research to ensure the pet you want is right for you. You may love an Australian Shepherd like a child, but if you aren’t exercising them heavily every day or live in a small apartment, they’re likely better off living on a farm, herding sheep on cold dewy mornings.
Choosing the right pet for you also includes researching your local ordinances for restrictions, making sure you can financially support them, and taking an honest look at yourself and your abilities.Preventive Health
A major part of being a responsible pet owner is taking your pet to the veterinarian regularly, getting them microchipped (if appropriate), and ensuring they are spayed/neutered (if appropriate).
This also includes keeping your pet up to date on their preventative medication to prevent parasites from hurting them. As well as deciding whether to get health insurance for your pet. Insurance can be a great idea and is recommended for high-risk pets. If you don’t go that route, it’s a great idea to create a savings account for them by putting away money every month.Training and Socialization
Both training and socialization, especially early on, are both big places many pet owners trip up over. Crate training is still the preferred method by most experts for training puppies. Not only does it help teach puppies right and wrong, but it can help reduce separation anxiety later on. Another thing that greatly helps reduce anxiety, especially, anxiety that causes aggression, is early socialization with both people and different animals.
Properly training and socializing your pet isn’t only for you and them, but for others. You don’t want to be the pet owner, whose cat makes people afraid to cross their path because they may attack. You don’t want to be the dog owner, who lets their dog off the leash so they can run up to strangers. Your dog may be friendly, but that stranger doesn't know, may have past trauma, or have a leashed dog that isn’t cool with unfamiliar dogs.
Fun Facts About Owning A Pet
- The majority of pet owners love talking to their pets, and our pets seem to love it too. Dogs can create about 10 vocal sounds, while cats can create up to 100. But not to be outshined by the feline, dogs can create about 100 different facial expressions when you include their ears.
- Looking for a pet you can spend your life with? Then get a parrot, like a Cockatoo or Macaw, that can live for up to 75 years. Turtles and tortoises also make exceptional choices.
- If you’re looking for the state with the most pet owners, then head to Wyoming, where 72% of households have at least one pet. Looking to avoid moving to a state where not even a majority of people own a single pet, then perhaps Rhode Island isn’t the best place for you. Only 42% of households have a pet living in them.
- Kittens have 26 baby teeth, while adult cats have 30 adult teeth. Dogs are born with just two more teeth than baby kittens with 28, but by the time they are finished growing, they have 42 teeth. Whoa, where did all those teeth come from?!
- While we can only hear up to about 25,000 Hertz (Hz), dogs can hear all the way up to around 45,000 Hertz. Pretty impressive, right? But not to be outdone by their doggo counterparts, cats can hear up to 64,000 Hertz. But while our ability for high pitches is dwarfed by our furry companions, we’ve got a one-up on our feathered companions. Parrots can only hear up to about 8,500 Hertz.
Pet Ownership Statistics
- Cats only see the vet about half the rate dogs do at 1.3 visits a year vs. 2.4 visits a year for dogs.
- While APPA says about 68% of households have a pet, a survey done by Simmons National Consumer Study found that just over half of American households (53-56%) own a pet.
- It’s about twice as expensive owning a pet for their first year than the rest of the years that follow. ASPCA says new pet owners can expect to spend around $1,000 on their pet in the first year. Here’s a helpful breakdown of the costs.
- While more households own dogs and cats, fish are the most common pet kept in the United States with an estimated 171 million freshwater fish living it up in aquariums and ponds across the country.
- According to an ASPCA survey, approximately 3.2 million shelter animals are adopted in the U.S each year — an equal split between cats and dogs. That’s a great number, but it isn’t enough. Currently, about 6.5 million companion animals end up in shelters. Fortunately, this is down from 7.2 million in 2011.
Bringing a pet into a household is always a big decision and a lot of responsibility. But with a lot of research and careful planning (not always possible), it’s truly a wonderful and irreplaceable experience. Plus, you’re already doing the work just by reading this article and learning what a good pet owner looks like.
I wish you the best of luck and health to you and your pet nuggets, whether they’re furry, feathery, scaly, and none or all of the above.
This article is contributed by guest writer, Sandra Juliana . She is a blogger with more than four years of experience with pets. In recent years, her focus has been on writing about pet-related topics and living with her four dogs, three cats, and a small menagerie of farm animals. She is a regular author of petblogish.com