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True or false — being a responsible pet parent really only means providing pets with two meals a day and letting them play in the backyard daily.

While these are indeed good traits of responsible pet parenting, there is so much more than just foods and outside playing. Your obligations to a pet is similar to what you would do for your own kids as in things like protecting them from harm and providing food and shelter. In some families, there are only fur babies!

Above all else, you must take the decision to adopt a shelter pet very seriously. Seeing an adorable puppy at the animal shelter while on a random visit is not reason enough to adopt him/her right then and there. Among other reasons, making sure the pair of you are a good match for each other is essential to sharing a long and happy life together. It is important to take careful consideration before adopting as is doing your homework on the type of pet you are thinking to bring into your home. Knowledge of the responsibilities that come with caring for a pet is key to being the best pet parent you can be.

So, what does it mean to be a responsible pet parent? I could list off the basics (food and shelter, spay or neuter, going on dogs walks, vet check-ups, etc.), all are positive, but let us take a look at some of the things that may slip our minds from time to time.

It Means…Not Yelling All the Time

We love our furry creatures, but sometimes dogs bark excessively or play just a little too ruff, I mean, rough with your other dogs or children. Yelling at pets does not mark you a bad parent. In fact, you are being responsible by not allowing a pet to bother others. It can also be necessary if a pet is about to put himself/herself or another in danger or when the dog barks at the same squirrel every five seconds. They will respond better to simple short commands compared to uncontrolled yelling.

It Means…Remembering to Fill the Water Dish

For goodness sake —fill that water bowl! As terrible as it sounds, it’s easy to forget to refill pet water bowl and bottles. Your best bet at assuring the constant availability of water is to provide fresh water every morning, thus filling up a bowl completely. Pet parents who are at work most of the day should consider putting out extra water bowls for cats, dogs and birds, or hooking in an extra bottle for small pets like rabbits and guinea pigs.

It Means…Updating ID and Microchip Info

Congrats on your new home! Did you remember to change Fluffy and Fido’s address as well? Remember, it’s your responsibility to update pet ID tags and to call the microchip company to change your contact information. Don’t end up with a lost pet living at the shelter because you could not be located. Or worse, they are euthanized in an overcrowded shelter.

It Means…Adopting When You Are Ready

Earlier I talked a little bit about doing your homework before adopting a new pet and to never adopt on impulse — that’s called being unprepared. You will break his or her heart if you take them back to the shelter because you were not expecting this kind of financial or guardianship responsibility. Some pets will need behavior training, some might have special needs, or require a slew of medications. Returning them to the shelter is not fair to the trusting pet you promised to care for and love for life. Please do not adopt until you are 100 percent ready for the responsibility.

Green Monsters: How long have you been a pet parent? Tell us your favorite thing about having pet kids!

Image source: emma.kate/Flickr