For many of us, our pets are part of our family. They may sleep with us, go to work with us, keep us company when we are lonely and provide us with unconditional love. Because we bring them into our homes, it is our responsibility to care for them. If you think you want a pet, test out the waters by pet sitting for a friend, first in the pet’s own home and then in your own. If you find you are drawn to caring for an animal, then I say go for it. If you find it annoying, don’t dismiss that feeling by saying “It will be different when it’s my own pet.” Most likely not. If you are not happy with caring for a pet, who will be wholly dependent on you for their care and well-being, there is little chance that it will get better when you have your own. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule – if your friend’s dog is high-strung or unruly, it’s usually that’s how they are in their own home. Generally, this is how the animal is being raised in their own environment. Your friend is most likely the cause of that behavior.
That being said, if you are an animal lover, then you will want to provide the best care for them. I have raised dogs my whole life and can’t imagine having a dog-free home. I have had one to three dogs at any time and have two right now. It is a comfortable place for me to come home and have my dogs so excited to see me. I could have been gone for an hour or all day – it doesn’t matter to them – I’m home and they show me how glad they are to see me. Some people might find this annoying to have their animals get excited and want to show you their excitement by being close to you or licking. If this is you, reconsider if you’re an animal person.
Having pets is a good opportunity for children to learn responsibility and caring for another life. With the guidance of a parent or responsible adult, children can learn to be great pet owners. They can participate in feeding, walking, playing and general care of the animal. Learning to feed an animal is one of the first areas a child might begin to take on these responsibilities. This includes the timing of feeding and providing fresh water every day.
Taking your child on a shopping trip for pet food is a good opportunity to show them how you apply healthy eating guidelines even for your furry family member. I am not an expert on animals but when it comes to my dogs, I make certain I know what type of food they need, if they need supplements and what medical needs that require a veterinarian. Children can accompany you to a vet visit to get an understanding of the necessities of caring for a pet like you would anyone you love. You wouldn’t ignore your child’s illness; I hope you wouldn’t ignore your pet’s illness. One of the best ways for children to grasp the responsibilities of pet ownership is inclusion in all the aspects of care. Difficult decisions have to be made at certain stages of a pet’s life and children shouldn’t be totally sheltered from life’s realities. Obviously, care needs to be taken depending on the sensibilities and age of the individual child.
I feed my dogs a grain-free diet. Most dog food that have grains are really nutrient-deficient for a dog’s needs. I did a lot of research on what foods are on the market and how they nourished the animal. A good resource is the website Dog Food Advisor. Based on my research, I started my dogs on Whole Earth Farms grain free dog food. I found it to have the least potential allergens. My older dog, Hannah, has skin allergies when exposed to certain stimulus. By removing potential allergens, it has help her reduce these sensitivities. Because the food is nutrient-dense, both dogs actually eat less than they what they would eat on a grain-filled dog food. Plus, they really love it. I never have any problems at meal times.
Because Hannah is a senior dog, there are other issues we address by using supplements. I will follow up in the next blog with information on providing your pet with supplements.
The most important point I want to convey is that having a pet is a responsibility for the whole family. Although certain duties will usually fall to one or two people in the family, it is important that the whole family, including small children grow up learning to care for their pets and how important it is to care for another life.
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