As of 2016, the number of registered pets in Singapore was approximately 824,600. It rose during the pandemic when people found comfort in fostering or adopting pets. However, as the pandemic dragged on, many pet owners struggled to care for their furbabies. Thankfully, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) has provided financial aid to pet owners and community feeders. Still, the fact that they had to get involved proved that pet ownership is harder than what it looks like.
Some people without pets tend to think that dogs are just playthings, while cats are lazy, huggable creatures. As such, when they start caring for a pet, they’d find it overwhelming after a short period. They’d realize how much it costs to keep a pet alive, healthy, and happy. And those costs aren’t just monetary.
Sadly, not everyone knew what they signed up for they adopted a pet. As a result, they either give up their pets to shelters, if not abandon them altogether.
To avoid facing this dilemma with your pet-to-be, note these dos and don’ts of first-time pet ownership:
DO: Recognize that Your Pet Has Specific Needs
Pets need more than just food and water. They also need a proper place to sleep and play in. Puppies, especially, have very particular needs. Since they’re still growing, they require a lot of stimulation and attention. In a way, they’re quite similar to babies.
If left to their own devices, puppies will chew on your furniture and other belongings. They’ll also relieve themselves everywhere. Kittens aren’t any less of a handful either. They’ll climb on furniture, chase any small object or insect that moves, and constantly cry for attention.
Give your pets their own toys and space. It’s the best way to keep them from ruining your things. If you can’t provide them a playroom, at least enclose the space you’ll give them. Disregarding their needs means risking your stuff for destruction.
DON’T: Feed Your Pet Without Researching the Recommended Diet for Them
Giving your pet dog or cat food may be the quickest way to feed them. But like humans, a pet’s body also needs nutrition from different sources. The consistency of their food also matters; sometimes they need dry food, other times wet food.
If you want to put them on a special diet, like veganism or a vegetarian one, do your research first. Dogs can have a vegetarian or a vegan diet, but it should be done very carefully. Choose high-quality vegetarian dog food from trustworthy brands. You can also make their own meals, but ensure that they’re well-balanced.
Cats, on the other hand, cannot be given a vegan nor a vegetarian diet. They’re obligate carnivores, meaning they need meat to survive. They can’t digest carbohydrates well. It’s best to keep them on an all-meat diet to allow them to thrive.
DO: Exercise Your Pet
Pets require regular physical activities. In fact, their need for exercise can also help their owners stay fit. So walk your dog every day, or build your cat a cat tree to let them explore heights.
If you haven’t tried walking a dog yet, note that they can be attentive to their surroundings while walking. They’ll try to smell everything in their path, which can slow you down. But don’t view this behavior as something negative. Treat it as an opportunity to explore your neighborhood more. Let your dog walk you, instead of the other way around.
Cats can also enjoy walking with you and may tolerate being tied to a leash. But they like exercising by themselves better. If you’ve built or bought them a large cat tree or tower, they can be content with that. Just surprise them with new toys now and then, like a wand or a laser. If you’d give them catnip, do so sparingly. Not all cats respond well to catnip, especially before a stressful event, like a visit to the vet.
DON’T: Give Your Pet Toxic Treats From the Dining Table
Dogs and cats tend to beg for scraps at the dining table. But before giving in to their adorable stares, be mindful of what you’re tossing them. Many human foods are actually toxic to pets. If you own both a cat and a dog, food that’s safe for cats isn’t necessarily safe for dogs, and vice-versa.
For example, dogs can eat lemon, but cats can have digestive problems from it. Overall, though, most toxic foods for dogs are also toxic for cats. Find a complete list of those foods and put it on your fridge door if you must.
Pet ownership may require a ton of responsibility, and it can drain your savings, but they’re absolutely worth the trouble. More than the toys and the treats, your love for them is more important.