The joy pets can bring into your life has been well-documented. Whether they’re improving your mental health, giving you a workout, or just showering you with love and affection, it’s no surprise that having a pet is good for you. As the old saying goes, though, a pet is for life, not just for Christmas (or whatever occasion gave you your faithful animal companion). In order for the relationship between you and your pet to work, it needs to go both ways. Here are 9 essentials you must have if you’re a pet owner.
- A collar
Identifying your pet is crucial, especially if you have a cat and you’re not always going to be with them when they go outside. A collar is a great way to add identity to your friend; you can add a tag with their name and your phone number too just in case they stray a little too far. Collars aren’t just identification, though. They can also make for excellent flea prevention devices and give the cat (or dog) something to chase if they’ve got a bell attached. Be careful – not all cats like the bell collars and will sometimes try to escape their own collars.
- A carrying cage
Sooner or later, your little animal friend is going to have to take a trip to the vet. Whether it’s a routine checkup, a spay or neuter, or a treatment of some kind, you’ll need to transport your pet to the vet. When this happens, you need an adequate carrying method for your pet. If you’ve got a dog, consider investing in a dog crate or cage of sufficiently high quality. The same goes for a cat. More unusual pets require bespoke solutions, so make sure you research how best to carry your pet when they need to travel with you.
- The right food
Each pet has a different set of dietary requirements depending on their species. There are plenty of misconceptions about diets for dogs – did you know, for example, that dogs are omnivorous, and that they can get protein from both plant and animal sources? – and diets for cats alike. As a rule of thumb for domesticated animals, it’s a good idea to aim to create a diet that’s as similar to what your pet would eat in the wild as possible. This means lots of nutrient-rich sources of protein and fats and not too many carbohydrates. You might think you’re helping your pet by overfeeding, but you’re not.
When your pet does something good – staying away from a forbidden area, for example, or performing a trick if you’re training your dog – it’s a good idea to reward them with a treat. This kind of conditioning reinforces the idea that good behaviour will be rewarded, so they’ll be inspired to keep repeating the good behaviour. There are lots of different options when it comes to treating your pets, and only you can say what the best way to keep your dog or cat happy is. Keep an eye out for what they like and make sure to keep a reserve of it on hand to reward them with.
- A play area
Pets learn by playing. It’s how they learn to perceive their environment, how they hone themselves physically, and how they differentiate enemies from friends. Play is especially important for puppies; although kittens play with each other constantly, puppies learn manners and boundaries by playing with one another. It’s very important to designate an area in which your pet – or pets – can play. If it’s the whole house, that’s even better; giving your pets the run of the place means they’ll be even more physically adept.
- A place to sleep
The tendency of cats to shun baskets in favour of the boxes in which they came is very well-known. If your pet decides that they don’t want to sleep in the basket you’ve provided, you shouldn’t despair; the important thing is that your pet has found somewhere safe that they want to sleep. Instead of being upset, try to decorate the box and line it with towels and comforting objects. Put a few of your pet’s favourite toys in the box to keep them calm. Cats like enclosed spaces, while dogs simply like somewhere soft and warm to sleep.
- A tension-free house
Naturally, you won’t be able to prevent or curtail every single argument that happens in your house. In an average family household, arguments happen; they’re how family members learn to get along with one another better. Still, if your family is having regular screaming matches with one another, then your home may not be a positive environment for a pet. Shouting and loud noises – especially sudden ones – stress out pets and cause them to feel threatened. You shouldn’t bring your own personal problems down on a cat, dog, or other animal, so try to keep your pet’s home serene.
- Fur cleaning devices
You don’t necessarily need to buy specific devices for removing pet hair. There are plenty of home remedies for doing this, so you may well have all of the things you need already. If you’re serious about removing pet hair, though – or if you find yourself with multiple pets – then you’ll need to devise a system for removing their fur from surfaces and furniture. Keeping them off sofas, beds, and other furniture isn’t recommended, because your pet should be free to roam wherever they want to. Try investing in a fur removal tool instead.
- A microchip
Whether or not this aspect is essential will depend on how much you plan to allow your pet to roam unaccompanied. If you’ve got a cat, or if you intend to allow your pet outside, then a microchip is an excellent idea. Even if you’ve got a pet that’s basically glued to your side, a microchip can come in handy if they run away or manage to get loose. If you want peace of mind regarding your pet’s safety and wellbeing, then you should definitely consider getting them microchipped.