With an increasing number of people saying ‘yes’ to pets, there’s also a need to evaluate a family’s readiness for this step. If you’re considering bringing home a companion animal, it would be wise to divide responsibilities amongst various members of the family depending on their schedules, and ensure that all the animal’s needs are met.

For puppies and dogs, the major responsibilities include walking (at least twice a day), baths and brushing/grooming (frequency of baths and specific brushing needs vary). Dogs also need to be given plenty of exercise and mental stimulation in the form of games such as hide-and-seek or catch. Newly adopted pups (or dogs) will need patient training – the owner must use praise and treats, so that they can learn basic commands like ‘sit’ or ‘come’. In the case of indoor kittens and cats, a litter-box will need to be maintained and replaced frequently. They also need to be provided catnip toys or other safe playthings that will keep them occupied.

All pets need to be vaccinated regularly against distemper, rabies and other such diseases and an immunization card will need to be maintained meticulously. Apart from the booster shots, they might also need vet visits when they fall sick or get injured – owners must be mentally prepared to take time off during unforeseen emergencies and rush a pet to the vet.

Another responsibility that rests with all owners is to keep a close watch on the animal’s health and detect problems soon after they occur, to minimize the risk to their well-being. For example, some cats are allergic to scented cat litter, and many animals have food allergies just like people do. Spotting an illness should be correlated to changes in food, litter brands and environment with the assistance of a vet.  

Lastly, pets need to be cared for when their owners are travelling for short periods of time. Identifying a trusted friend or relative who will keep the dogs safe until your return is crucial. Indoor cats might prefer staying at your home provided the litter is replaced and the food and water supply are replenished as required. If you’ve factored in all these responsibilities and budgeted for pet food, vet visits and accessories, congratulations – you’re ready to be a proud pet parent.

SRIYA NARAYANAN

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