Animal etiquette: Are you a polite and responsible pet parent?

While most pet parents are conscientious about their surroundings when walking their dogs, there will always be others who leave their dog’s droppings in someone’s yard and simply walks away. It’s frustrating, and, well, just plain rude!

Many cat owners are guilty of this one: a cat parent who fails to clean the litter box for days, leaving a bitter smell of urine and cat litter in the air.

Some owners’ actions bother other people, while some can be bad for your fur baby.

The American Veterinary Medical Association shared these guidelines for being a responsible pet owner:

• Lifelong care of the pet. This means committing to the relationship for your pet's entire life.

• Selecting a pet that is suited to your home and lifestyle and avoiding impulsive decisions.

• Recognizing that owning a pet requires an investment of time and money.

• Keeping only the type and number of pets for which you can provide an appropriate and safe (and clean) environment. This includes appropriate food, water, shelter, health care and companionship.

• Animals that spend extended periods of time outside require habitats that protect their health, safety, and welfare. Outdoor confinement of an animal should include provisions to minimize distress or discomfort to the animal, and assure access to appropriate food, water, and shelter from extreme weather conditions.

• Ensuring that pets are properly identified (i.e., tags, microchips, or tattoos) and that their registration information in associated databases is kept up-to-date.

• Adhering to local ordinances, including licensing and leash requirements.

• Helping to manage overpopulation by controlling your pet’s reproduction through managed breeding, containment, or spay/neuter. Establishing and maintaining a veterinarian-client-patient relationship.

• Providing preventive (e.g., vaccinations, parasite control) and therapeutic health care for the life of your pet in consultation with, and as recommended by, your veterinarian.

• Socialization and appropriate training for your pet to facilitate their well-being and the well-being of other animals and people.

• Preventing your pet from negatively impacting other people, animals and the environment. This includes proper waste disposal, noise control, and not allowing pets to stray or become feral.

• Providing exercise and mental stimulation appropriate to your pet’s age, breed, and health status.

• Include your pets in your planning for an emergency or disaster, including assembling an evacuation kit.

• Making arrangements for the care of your pet when or if you are unable to do so.

• Recognizing declines in your pet’s quality of life and making decisions in consultation with your veterinarian regarding appropriate end-of-life care (e.g., palliative care, hospice, euthanasia).

Source: American Veterinary Medical Association

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