11 Steps to Responsible Pet Ownership


January 2, 2013

Media Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

11 Steps to Responsible Pet Ownership

PORTLAND, Ore.—Many families start off the new year with new additions to their families—pets! Different types of pets have different needs, but all companion animals require care, time, love, and attention. If you are new to the responsibilities that come with having a pet, here are some tips to keeping your new family member safe, healthy and happy.

1. Make your house “pet-friendly”
Animals often get sick because people don’t realize what common household items can be dangerous to animals. Many plants, human foods, medications and outdoor products should be kept away from your pets. Click here to read more.

2. Be proactive about your pet’s health
Animals can’t tell you when something is wrong, but a vet usually can. Take your pet for an initial check-up and make sure she is current on vaccines. If your pet isn’t already altered, make an appointment with your vet. With approximately 5 million to 7 million companion animals entering animal shelters nationwide every year, it’s critical to spay or neuter your companion animal. DoveLewis hosts designated “spay and neuter days” organized by community partner SNIP, for pets of low-income families. For more information, contact 503.395.7647.

Remember that animals are like people in that they need healthy diets and plenty of exercise. Daily walks for dogs are important, though some breeds are naturally more active than others. Cats—particularly indoor cats—often get more exercise if they have toys or other cats with which to play. Be sure to speak to your vet about how much physical activity your pet requires.

If you’ve adopted a cat, talk to your vet about keeping her indoors vs letting her outdoors. As stated by Audubon Society of Portland, “The average lifespan of an outdoor cat is less than 3 years, compared to 15–18 years for cats who are housed indoors.” Additionally, cats account for nearly 40% of the animal intakes at Audubon Society of Portland’s Wildlife Care Center—the number one cause of injury by a wide margin. Learn more here.

3. Get identification for your pet
One of the most important things you can do is get a collar, ID tag, license and microchip for your pet. If your pet gets lost, these forms of identification help to ensure your pet will be returned to you if found by another person or organization. Multnomah County returns approximately 2,000 lost pets to their owners each year, thanks to pet licenses.

4. Keep and organize all of your pet’s medical records
Don’t rely on your vet to keep track of your animal’s health history. Create a designated file in which to put all paperwork from vet visits. If you’ve adopted a rescue, do your part to get as much information about your pet’s medical history as possible. Doing so will help you make informed medical decisions for your pet in the future.

5. Make sure your pet receives the training he or she needs
Bad behavior in pets is usually due to a lack of training. So give your pet the training she deserves. Local humane societies are usually a good place to start. Oregon Humane Society offers low-cost classes covering a variety of topics, including introductory training, puppy manners, problem pooches, and one-on-one private training.

6. Learn about pet first aid in case of an emergency
DoveLewis offers free community workshops about pet first aid. These workshops are taught by trained DoveLewis veterinary professionals. Attendees learn how to check basic vital signs on their pets, and how to tell when they need to seek emergency care. Owners are given information about what happens at DoveLewis when their pet arrives so they know what to expect in an emergency. Basic wound care, common emergency scenarios, pet and owner safety, and CPR are all covered in the workshop, which roughly takes 90 minutes.

7. Don’t share “people food”
Even though it might be tempting to reward your new pet with some of your tasty meal, it’s not in the best interest of your pet to do so. Raisins, grapes, chocolate, onions, turkey bones, and artificial sweeteners are just a few examples of foods that can be harmful to animals.

8. Leash up and clean up
Remember to bring some small baggies with you on walks so you can clean up after your pet. Also be sure to keep your dog on a leash. Other people, dogs, cats or squirrels can often excite, scare or alarm dogs; you don’t want your pet to run away or cause any injuries to others.

9. Line up a few pet-sitters
At times, you may need help caring for your pet, whether you’re going out of town or working long hours. That’s why it’s important to locate a pet daycare center or hotel (like Sniff Dog Hotel, Noah’s Arf or 3 Dogs Boarding and Daycare) that can provide a safe and comfortable “home away from home” for your pet. Many of these places now have video cameras set up so that you can check in on your animal from afar. Another option is to have the contact information of a few recommended pet sitters who can come to stay with your pet at your house. If you don’t have anyone in mind, check out Rover.com.

10. Know how to care for your pets as they age
DoveLewis offers free community workshops to teach pet owners about what changes to expect in aging pets, including nutrition requirements, pain management, and end-of-life decisions. These workshops are taught by certified veterinary technicians who are on staff at DoveLewis. Additionally, DoveLewis offers free pet loss support groups and memorial art therapy workshops for those who lose a pet.

11. Set aside some money for the unexpected
Accidents happen, so be financially prepared to make an uplanned visit to your vet or local emergency animal hospital. Chances are you won’t have to use this “backup fund,” but if you do, both you and your pet will be very glad you thought ahead. Also consider purchasing pet insurance.


DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital, established in 1973 and based in Portland, Ore., is the only nonprofit, 24-Hour Emergency and Intensive Care Unit in the region. DoveLewis provides donor-funded programs to the community including one of the United States’ largest volunteer-based animal blood banks, a nationally recognized pet loss support program, 24-hour stabilizing care for lost, stray and wild animals and financial assistance for qualifying low-income families and abused animals. For more information, please visit dovelewis.org.

< < Back