Did you know that February is Responsible Pet Owner Month? Ehow.com provides the following steps to follow so you can participate:

Step 1: Make an appointment with your veterinarian or low-cost clinic to have your dog or cat spayed or neutered, if you haven’t already. Spaying and neutering not only helps control animal population, but it can also protect dogs and cats from various diseases, including cancer.

Step 2: Encourage friends and family members to get their dogs and cats spayed and neutered. Check your local phone book or the Internet for low-cost spay/neuter clinics in your area. Make a list of the low-cost clinics and give them to any friends or family members that are struggling financially.

Step 3: Train your dog; this is extremely important. The Number One reason for dogs ending up in shelters is behavior problems. By training and socializing your dog you can greatly reduce the chances of your dog ever getting lost or ending up in a shelter.

Step 4: Feed your pet a well-balanced and nutritious diet. There are many quality dog and cat food choices on the market today. With a little research you can find a lot of information on food, and the food that would be best for your pet.

Step 5: Clean up after your dog. Whenever you take your dog for a walk or to play at the park or beach, make sure you bring some bags to pick up after your dog. Needless to say, it’s very irresponsible and unhealthy to not clean up dog waste (aside from being against the law).

Step 6: Groom your dog on a regular basis (although some dogs don’t require as much grooming as others). A Pit Bull, for instance, has a short coat that does not require any clipping. A Bichon Frise requires grooming on a weekly basis. Keep your pet’s coat clean with regular trimmings if he requires it, nails trimmed, ears clean and teeth free from plaque and tartar.

Step 7: Give your pet plenty of exercise and feed a proper diet to protect against various diseases. By feeding a nutritious diet you can boost the immune system, which will help keep your pet healthy and vibrant.

Step 8: Let your dog live in the house with you. You need to provide shelter for your dog; dogs are extremely social animals and need contact with their human “pack.” Isolating your dog from the household is detrimental to your dog’s mental well-being. It is unfair to get a dog and then banish her to a backyard kennel.

Step 9: Make sure your pet has up-to-date identification tags on his collar. Check them every once in a while, as pets (dogs especially) do have a tendency to lose their tags. It’s also important to make sure the information on the tag is up-to-date.

Sadly spaying and neutering rates in America are way down. Even with all we now about the benefits, and about the volume of homeless pets filling shelters and being euthanized every year, fewer pet owners are choosing to have their pet sterilized. We encourage you to please make the responsible choice, and please encourage your friends with pets to do the same.

PS: Pictured above is a friend and very responsible pet owner, with her gorgeous, greyhound rescue, Khai! Photo taken by Cow Dreamz Photography of Phoenix.

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