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Proper Pet Care By Amaya Prescott

Pets have been an important part of family structures for generations. Most people can remember having one at some point in their lives if they don’t have one currently. In the U.S the five most popular pets are fish, cats, dogs, small animals, and birds, respectively. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t realize that these animals have needs that are not being met by the people who they are dependent on. There are do’s and don’ts for all pets that most people aren’t aware of.

Fish are the most common pets in the U.S. They are also some of the most neglected pets people tend to keep. Betta fish are a good example of this; they are kept in tiny, tiny bowls while waiting to be sold and once they are, Bettas are usually kept in only slightly larger bowls or the same ones they were sold in. This is an issue because for a Betta to be healthy and happy, they need to be kept in tanks that are at least five gallons. They also shouldn’t be kept with other Bettas, as they are territorial and aggressive with other fish by nature. Most fish have delicate fins, Bettas again being an especially good example of this. That is why when decorating, one should research what materials could be possibly harmful to their fish, these things usually being sharp rocks, plastic plants and certain kinds of gravel. A responsible owner should also do a lot of research on what their specific kind of fish should eat, usually, the general fish food flakes sold in stores aren’t sufficient. While it can vary from one kind of fish to another, usually, a tank will need several pieces of equipment to remain in livable conditions for fish. Most fish also like having some sort of shelter or place to hide. Since fish don’t express things in a way that is easily perceived by humans, it’s important to be aware of your pet’s current state. If something seems wrong, don’t wait a long time to look into it or get help. Ultimately, the best thing someone can do for their pet is researching its individual needs and accommodate it accordingly.

The next most common pets are cats. Common issues with the ownership of cats tend to be owners assuming that their cats don’t need them for something or ignoring the nature of the species when it counts. Like the majority of organisms that aren’t herbivores, cats shouldn’t be fed vegetarian or vegan diets, even if their owner does have one of those diets. It is physically impossible for a cat to properly digest a diet consisting of only fruits and vegetables. Cats that are only fed a diet without meat will die of malnutrition. If someone is unwilling to feed their cats what they need because they refuse to eat it themselves, that is a form of animal abuse and it is cruel to one’s pet to do something like that. Another thing that normally shouldn’t be done to cats, unless it is a truly necessary medical procedure, is declawing cats. Sure, it seems convenient to the owner, but it does cause damage to the cat, all for a mostly unnecessary process, the usual exception being if a cat needs to be declawed for medical reasons, otherwise it is unnecessary. Additionally, being an outdoor cat is almost always inherently harmful, especially if it has been declawed or otherwise lost a means for defending itself. Domesticated cats are meant to stay inside and/or be content with a small outside space. Cats, for the most part, won’t feel the need to venture outside of the house unless their needs aren’t being met. Being outside leaves them at risk for being attacked by wild or stray animals, catching and carrying diseases from other animals, and more. If someone is considering adopting a cat, they should look into adopting from a kill shelter, preferably a black cat as they are adopted the least because of superstitions surrounding black animals.

Dogs are the next most common pets and like cats, should not be fed vegan or vegetarian diets. Anyone who argues that a vegan dog in normal circumstances can be happy has probably never actually seen a dog that is happy. Another misconception is that dogs can be left alone with small children, while it’s not guaranteed that it is inherently dangerous, dogs don’t always realize their size or strength and how it can affect small children. The children could have a hard time communicating that they’re being hurt by the dog. A very good, gentle dog can hurt a small child without meaning to because there was no one there to recognize that there was an issue and fix it. Dogs should also be accommodated if they are in a climate they weren’t originally suited for. A dog with a thick, fluffy coat meant for very cold climates, will need accommodations in a hot climate. The same applies to the reverse. Dogs aren’t accidentally mistreated as often as other animals because most pet owners know how to recognize a dog’s emotional cues, as opposed to a cat or a lizard.

The next category is small animals, which is mostly made up of rodents or other similar species. One thing to note is that there is a lot of variation in-between these sorts of animals. While most dogs have for the most part the same needs there can be surprising differences in small animals. Often an issue is that the cages that these animals are kept in aren’t good for them. Cages with bars or plastic tubes aren’t good for them. These animals, which are mostly hamsters, gerbils, rats, mice, and the like can get stuck or otherwise stuck and things like these. While some people may opt out of providing a wheel for their pet completely if one was to purchase a wheel for their pet it needs to be the right size. If the animal’s back is curved, the wheel is too small, and the animal can sustain spinal damage from that. Rodents also shouldn’t be kept in hamster balls as they aren’t good for their health or safety, even if the animal looks happy. Most rodents will also kill and eat their young and the reasons and whether it is okay or not varies between species so research your pet specifically and see.

Birds are the last on our list. They present bodily and emotional health issues rather visibly as their feathery coats usually fall out or are plucked at until sparse by the bird. Birds that are kept alone should not have mirrors in their cage as they can choose their reflections as mates, which is obviously unhealthy. Birds are usually social creatures and if there are no other birds they can socialize with they should receive constant attention, though there are some kinds of birds that should be with other birds. Like all other pets, a responsible owner should research the individual animal they are going to take care of. Most birds should have a balanced diet, usually consisting of fruits and seeds considering the species that are usually kept as pets. Owners should also keep up with grooming their bird and taking it to doctors’ appointments, though that applies to all pets.

Overall, the best thing a responsible pet owner can do is research, research, research. All pets have individual needs and a good owner needs to be prepared and willing to provide for those needs. Research the animal’s diet, housing needs, grooming, and health, needs. If you meet those needs your pet will be happy and healthy and you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you providing that life for them.