Animals are one of my passions, my loves. There’s nothing like a bit of unconditional love from a puppy… or any other animal for that matter. Sure, animals are independent beings, so they don’t always show this love. But many of them are absolutely adorable and loving.
One of my biggest concerns in this world is that so many animals are mistreated by humans. We are humans ourselves, whether we care to admit it or not. If we don’t expect nor allow any other species to control or manipulate us, then why should we be able to do so to them?
I beg you, regardless of whether you are buying a goldfish for your five year old or purchasing a horse for your teenager to ride in the local rodeo— do your research first! To help get you started, here are 20 simple things that you need to know about animals.
- All animals react to loud noises. Be smart about the volume of music in the car, the engine that you rev outside of the barn, etc. If you scare off the animal because of a loud noise, it’s much harder to make them comfortable in their new environment.
- All animals need stimulation and exercise. Treat them like human babies; they need proper food, water, learning environments, etc. Even if you own a goldfish, make sure they have enough space to swim and get exercise! Also make sure they are given the appropriate amount of food.
- Check your resources! Thanks to stolenpets.com, I have found that approximately 90% of lost or stolen animals (mostly dogs) are never found again. Of these, a large majority of them have been stolen and sold to unsuspecting potential owners… or worse! Make sure that you not only buy from a reputable pet owner (even if they are not a breeder, ask for references). Additionally, take all precautions possible to ensure your pet does not become one of those who are stolen and sold (use microchips, ID tags, collars, fenced yards, etc.).
- Determine your pet’s comfort zone. Once you get to know your pet’s personality, you will be able to tell which corner of their cage or which area of the house/barn they retreat to when they are uncomfortable, scared, or want to be left alone. Learn this space and understand not to nag at your animal when they are wishing for some “privacy.”
- Before buying a pet, talk to a local veterinarian. Prices are extremely high for health care (as we all know), and it’s no cheaper for an animal! While some require less maintenance, keeping many pets medicated and healthy costs thousands of dollars per year! Suggestion: Go one step farther and calculate cages, food supplies, toys, and other items that will be needed for the first year to ensure that you truly can afford your pet. Add a decent amount of money (depending on the type of pet) to ensure that emergency situations are also covered.
- Don’t leave your pet with strangers. Expect your life to change. If you are used to taking random vacations whenever you feel like it, be prepared to stop. Animals are just like kids; you cannot leave them with the next-door neighbor just because you feel like taking a trip. Also remember that there are a lot of places where it is unlikely that you can take your pet along on a vacation!
- Research the types of interaction techniques that you should use with your pet. Especially for our 4-legged friends, it is important to determine what kind of interactions should be introduced to your animal at a young age. Allowing puppies to jump up, nip, etc. will be harder habits to break if you don’t start to correct them (though gently) at an early age. To determine the appropriate training techniques for interactions with strangers and other animals, do specific research on your species and breed of pet.
- You will get emotionally attached. If you have children, they will get even more attached. Choose your pet wisely and be sure to monitor their health closely. Be prepared to explain to your kids (and to deal with yourself) the death of a pet. Unless you buy a parrot, chances are your pet will die long before you will.
- Try to have emergency contact numbers for your veterinarian. If they are unwilling to share a cell number for weekend emergencies, determine the closest emergency clinic and make sure their number is programmed into your cell phone. It should also be available at home in case of emergency. (Along with this note: Always leave sitters with emergency contact numbers for your pet.)
- In case of a fight between two pets of the same species (or even any other animal and your pet), take proper precautions before approaching the fight and do not step between two snarling, biting animals. This is another reason why it is important to research pet training and obedience before acclimating your animal to other humans and animals.
- Understand the foods (especially human foods), products, and materials that are poisonous to your animal’s species. Dogs and cats are especially susceptible to accidental poisoning because people like to feed them food without understanding the allergies and toxins that dogs and cats possess or are affected by.
- For any animals, but especially for barnyard animals, be sure to check local laws and statutes. There are areas where certain pets cannot be owned. Additionally, there are strict rules outlining the needs and specifications that must be included in a large animal’s habitat. Before providing a home for a horse, cow, pig, llama, etc. be sure that you can meet all of the laws. Don’t worry- the laws are for the safety of the animal. If you intend to be a good pet owner, you shouldn’t have any trouble following the rules!
- Buy supplies before you buy the pet! The basics are a must, but additional toys and products are never harmful!
- Have a plan for your pet when no one is at home. Jobs and school often get in the way of a pet’s exercise, grooming, feeding, and attention. Sit down as a family and ensure that a schedule can be set for your pet that stays constant throughout the week. It is important for them to have consistency, especially in their feeding and bathroom schedules (assuming you have an indoor animal that needs to be let outside).
- Understand common health concerns that the breed or species may exhibit. Certain breeds of dogs or horses are known for particular health problems. Be sure you can identify these problems and have them treated if your pet shows any symptoms for an ailment.
- Keep gauze wrap (like that which is used on horses and small animals) in your bathroom closet or wherever you keep your animal supplies. Again, depending on the species, this may not be useful. However, if an animal is injured by a cut, bite, etc. be prepared to immediately contact the veterinarian and have gauze and other padding available to stop bleeding if necessary.
I’m either getting tired or have simply used too many general ideas. In any case, I’m having trouble coming up with the last 4 things you need to know. Just remember, it varies based on the animal you are hoping to have. Do your research! Be smart! Understand that another life is in your hands.