Pets

Best Pet Supplies

For many of us, our pets are some of our closest companions. They are friends, family, and roommates all rolled into one! Whether your pet is a loyal pup, furry feline, colorful fish, or something else entirely, you want to make sure that you are providing your pet with as much love and the highest quality of life possible. This means choosing the pet supplies and gear that are best for your specific pet. While this sounds like an easy enough job, any trip to a pet store will prove that there are dozens of options to choose from when it comes to pet food, homes, toys, and supplies.

So before you panic while trying to decipher just which brand of dog food or which bird cage is your best bet, read on to find out more about how you can choose the best pet gear and supplies based on what is recommended by scientific research, animal experts, and veterinarians. The better you know your pet and do your research, the more likely you are to provide him or her with the proper nutrition and supplies to support a long and healthy life!

Pet Food

Any pet owner can sympathize with the daunting task of selecting the best food for your beloved pet. Pet stores (and even general grocery stores) dedicate almost a full aisle to products intended to meet your pet’s dietary needs. Additionally, the number of specialty products and new dietary trends for pets nearly rival the number of those geared towards humans. So just what is most important when it comes to choosing the best food for your dog, cat, or animal companion?

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Commercial Dog Food

The most common food choice for dogs is commercial dog food. While many pet owners are wary of the nutritional benefits of processed dog food, most veterinarians agree that it can provide a dog with all the nutrients he or she needs. Your dog’s diet should be comprised of six major nutrient groups in correct proportions to one another. These are proteins, fats and oils, minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates and water. Most commercial dog food provides these nutrient groups through the inclusion of meat, grains, vegetables along with essential vitamins and minerals. These ingredients are adjusted in different ratios depending on your dog’s life stage (be it puppy, pregnant, nursing, or senior). When it comes to choosing which commercial dog food is best, look for one that is labeled “complete and balanced” by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).

Best for: Commercial dog food is best for all dog breeds who don’t have any dietary allergies. Just choose the right type for your dog’s age.

Raw Dog Food

There also are several options apart from commercial dog food, some with growing popularity. One dietary regimen for those pet owners who want an alternative to commercial dog food is a raw diet. A raw diet seeks to mimic what non-domesticated dogs would eat if they were living in the wild. This includes raw meat, grains, vegetables, and pieces of raw bones. Raw diets for dogs have become relatively controversial because the are associated with an increased risk of microbial contamination (for both pets and pet owners) due to the handling and consumption of raw meat. There are also concerns that raw diets do not usually provide the appropriate balance of nutrients that dogs require. In general, most vets agree that there are no scientifically proven benefits to a raw diet, while there are proven risks, especially for puppies.

Best for: Raw diets are best for racing or sled dogs. Consult a veterinarian before putting your dog on a raw diet.

Grain Free Dog Food

Another dog food trend as of late concerns the inclusion of grains and glutens in traditional commercial dog food. There are now a number of dog food brands that produce “grain-free” varieties of dog food, which usually come with a higher price tag. Some dogs can be allergic to grains, making a grain-free dog food option a valid choice. However, if your pup is not reacting well to his commercial dog food, it is more likely that your dog is allergic to another ingredient in his food than to grains. Gluten allergies and sensitivity has become increasingly common in people, leading some pet owners to think that a grain free diet would also be good for a pet. Nonetheless, gluten allergies are very uncommon in dogs, and the grains in commercial dog food offer in important source of carbohydrates that canines need.

Best for: Grain-free dog food is best for dogs with diagnosed gluten allergies.

Cat Food

Like with dogs, most commercial cat food will provide all of the essential nutrients and vitamins that your cat needs. When choosing between commercial cat foods, your best bet is to read the labels. At the top of the ingredients list on a quality cat food you should find the protein. The protein listed on the label should be from an identified meat source, such as beef or chicken, instead of just saying “meat” or “meat product”. Other essential components to a quality cat food include vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and water. You should also see “taurine” listed in the first few ingredients. Taurine is an essential amino acid that helps with your cat’s development.

Best for: Commercial cat food is best for all breeds of cats with no dietary allergies.

Flaked Fish Food

When it comes to choosing the best food for your fish and aquatic pets, it is incredibly important to first research some general guidelines about the dietary needs of your specific kind of fish. With tens of thousands of different species of fish, there can be a great deal of variety in what they eat. Dried fish food is the most common option available and will meet the needs of most fish species. Within the realm of dried fish food, though, there are still decisions to make. These mostly boil down to whether your aquatic pets are top or bottom feeders, and whether they are herbivores, omnivores, or carnivores.

Much dried fish food comes in the form of flakes. Flaked fish food is designed to float on the surface of the water when it is sprinkled into a fish tank. Eventually it will become saturated and will float to the bottom, but most hungry fish will scarf down the flakes before this happens. Flaked food is ideal for surface feeding fish that are anatomically designed to eat food that is floating above their heads on the surface of the water. Surface feeding fish have a completely flat back such as Butterfly Fish, Silver Hatchetfish, and Zebra Danio.

Best for: Flaked fish food is best for surface feeding fish.

Pellet Fish Food

An alternative to flaked fish food is pellet fish food. These tiny pellets resemble small rocks, and when introduced to water will quickly sink to the bottom of the tank where they will be sucked up by bottom feeding fish. These aquatic pets, including plecos and loaches, have their mouths on the underside of their body, where they can easily consume dried food pellets that have sunk to the floor of the tank.

Best for: Pellet fish food is best for bottom feeding fish.

If you have an aquarium with a number of different fish, you may need to ask your pet store or veterinarian in order to provide the dried food best suited for each species. The same goes for the ingredients in your fish food, whether they be meat based, plant based, or a combination. While most fish are omnivorous and are best suited for a diet that includes both plants and animal protein, check with your pet store or vet to find out what is best for your pets.

A last important note when it comes to fish food is to not overfeed your fish. All aquatic pet specialists agree that a hungry fish is a happy fish. Always feed your fish in small quantities. There should be no flakes or pellets left over after a feeding. If you find that your fish are not consuming an entire feedings worth of food, reduce the amount and frequency of your feedings.

Bird Food

Most birds are considered to be florivores, which means that the bulk of their diet is made up of plants. Amongst plant eaters, there is variation between birds who eat mostly grains, those who eat mostly fruits, those who eat mostly nectar, and those who may also feed on animal protein. The most common food for domesticated birds is a diet based on seeds. Nonetheless, a seed based diet will often need to be supplemented with other types of food, as it may not provide your feathered friend with all of the nutrients he or she needs. Seed mixes sold in pet stores often do not contain the same mix of nutrient rich seeds that your bird would find in the wild. Additionally, when your companion bird is presented with a daily bowl of mixed seeds, as opposed to having to forage for these seeds in the wild, it is likely that your pet will pick out his favorites, leaving the least tasty seeds behind. Over time, this could result in a nutrient deficiency or malnutrition for your companion bird.

Consequently, your best bet for most pet bird species is a formulated diet. Like dry cat or dog food, a formulated diet for birds comes in the form of pellets. These pellets come in many varieties, but include all of the vitamins and nutrients your bird needs mixed right in. As each pellet includes mix of all ingredients, it is impossible for your bird to avoid certain ingredients, thus ensuring a more balanced diet. Based on the species of your bird, it is appropriate and recommended to supplement a formulated bird food with seeds, vegetables, and small quantities of fruit as a treat.

Best for: Formulated diets a great choice for all types of birds.

Pet Dwellings

Pet dwellings vary hugely depending on what type of pet you have, and where you yourself live. While there are many pets who will happily make themselves at home in your home with no additionally dwelling needed, there are others (fish, for example) that have very specific needs when it comes to their environment. Read on to learn more about the different types of dwellings that are best for each pet and how to choose the best option depending on your animal’s breed and specific needs.

Dog Houses

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While many iconic dogs such as Snoopy and Clifford are proud owners of dog houses, most domestic dogs don’t actually need their own doghouse. Whether or not your pup should have a dog house depends entirely on how much time he spends outdoors unaccompanied, and in what sort of weather. Any dog that is spending unattended time outside must have adequate shelter from the elements. Not only is it natural that you would want to provide your furry friend with shelter, but it is actually required by law. Depending on the layout of your yard and home, the need for additional shelter for your pup will vary.

An outdoor doghouse will keep your canine warm in the winter, provide shade in the summer, and protect her from rain, sleet, snow, and hail. The type of doghouse you choose should depend on your dog’s breed and the type of weather your pup will likely encounter. If you live in a climate with below freezing temperatures in the winter, an insulated dog house is a must. It is also useful to look for a design with an elevated floor which will keep your dog dry in wet conditions as well as warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.

The size of the doghouse is also important, because if it is too large or too small your dog is unlikely to use it. Measure your dog before purchasing a house to ensure that your dog can comfortably stand, turn around, and lie down inside of the house.

While it isn’t necessarily a dwelling, another commonly used accessory for dogs who spend much of their time outdoors is an invisible dog fence. These pet containment systems allow your pup to roam your yard, even if it isn’t enclosed. Your dog will receive a light electric stimulation when he approaches the invisible barrier, and in time will learn where not to go.

The main decision to make with an invisible containment system is whether you want a wired or wireless one. A wired system requires you to actually install a wire around the periphery of your yard. The benefit of using a wired system is that is can be customized for the exact dimensions of your property. The downside is that it is more labor intensive to install.

A wireless system, on the other hand. Is incredibly easy to install, but can’t be customized. Instead, your pet’s boundaries will be within a given radius of the center console. In general, unless your home is perfectly centered on your property, or you plan to limit your dog’s territory to only your front or back yard, a wired system will allow you more flexibility.

Even for indoor dogs or those who don’t need a dog house or fence, you may need a crate or carrier for your pup. It is especially common to have puppies sleep in a crate or carrier until they are potty trained. Having a crate or carrier is also useful if you’re going to have to crate your dog at some point or take him or her on a trip.

Dog crates and carriers come in a variety of materials including plastic, fiberglass, and metal. While a metal crate will likely last the longest, plastic and fibreglass ones are nearly as sturdy and are much lighter in weight making them easier to move around. Plastic and fibreglass crates also tend to be cozier for your dog. Add in a dog bed or favorite blanket and you may even find that your pooch enjoys sleeping in his crate even when he doesn’t have to. Just make sure the crate you get is big enough so that your dog will be able to comfortably enter, exit, and lie down inside it once he reaches his predicted full size.

Cat Shelters

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Indoor cats certainly don’t need their own house, though many love hiding out in empty cardboard boxes or tight spaces. For feline friends spending extended amounts of outdoor time, pet owners should follow the same guidelines as those for dogs in choosing an appropriate shelter. Take into consideration the climate you live in, the weather your cat will likely endure, and the size of your cat when choosing the best shelter for your cat. An alternative to either a cat or doghouse is to install a pet door in your home that allows your furry companion to choose when he or she would like to be indoors versus outdoors.

Like dogs, many cats will need to use a crate or carrier during their lifetime, mostly for transport to and from the vet, or on vacations. Plastic is your best bet here as it is lightweight, easy to carry, and is durable enough to last your feline’s entire life. While there are disposable cardboard carriers available for transporting cats, these are not recommended for regular use as an anxious cat can often claw his or her way through cardboard.

Fish Aquariums

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Of all the types of pets that exist, aquariums present one of the costliest investments for pet dwellings. Not only are aquariums more specialized than other pet dwellings, but they are also entirely mandatory if you plan on owning aquatic pets. While dogs, cats, and even birds might not need their own home at all depending on your house and where you live, fish absolutely must have an aquarium and will spend all of their lives in it. Even though it might be an initial investment, choosing the right aquarium is essential for successful fish ownership.

When it comes to aquariums, bigger is almost always better. That said, most fish owners are limited by the amount of space that they have available in their homes and how much they are willing and able to spend. If you get a bigger aquarium than you initially need, you can always add more fish or other creatures down the line, whereas if you buy the exact size that you need, you will be limited in your ability to grow your aquatic pet collection.

In addition to the aquarium itself, you will also need some other equipment to create an ideal living environment for you fish. Filtration is important in keeping your aquarium’s water clean and free of bacteria or debris. There are a number of different filters that can be purchased at your local pet store. The most common and popular type of filter is a canister filter. Canister filters can be purchased with a number of different specifications depending on the size of your aquarium and the type of marine life that you have. They use three different types of filtration to keep water in perfect condition, and are fairly easy to install and maintain.

Another popular option for filters are power filters. Power filters hang off the back of your aquarium and are very easy to install and maintain. They are best for smaller aquariums (55 gallons or fewer), or can be used in pair for larger aquariums. Always do your research before purchasing a filter to find out what is the best fit for your specific aquarium and the fish species that you have.

Bird Cage

When it comes to choosing a bird cage, the most important criteria is that it is large enough for you bird to move about comfortably, stand up, and stretch his or her wings. It is crucial that the bars of a bird cage have narrow enough spaces so that your flying friend cannot escape, but wide enough so that he or she can easily see out and is still encouraged to climb and interact with the world beyond the cage. Along with the physical cage itself, your bird is also likely to need a water and food bowl, perches, and toys to provoke curiosity and intelligent play.

When it comes to choosing a cage, you want to make sure that the cage is well constructed. Some birds tend to participate in destructive behavior, so it is important that your cage is sturdy and made from either metal or stainless steel. Never choose a wooden, plastic, or decorative cages as it is only a matter of time before your bird is likely to eat through the bars which could be dangerous to your bird’s health and would also make the cage ineffective as a home.

Other useful features include choosing a cage that has a large access door, feeder doors, and slide out litter trays. A large access door should permit that you can reach your entire arm into the cage, making it easy for you to get ahold of your bird when need be, and also making your feathered pet more willing to come in and out of her cage. Small feeder doors are useful for replenishing and cleaning food and water supplies without opening the access door and risking that your bird takes off. A sliding litter tray means that you can easily clean out your bird’s cage without having to remove him or her from it.

Small Mammals

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Depending on what type of small mammal you have as a pet, be it a rabbit, hamster, or guinea pig, their housing needs will differ. Rabbits are likely the small mammal with the most specific housing needs. As they are the largest of the small mammals and many rabbit owners don’t have just one, a cage may not suffice as a rabbit dwelling. The most common alternative is a rabbit hutch.

A rabbit hutch is typically made of wood and provides a larger living area for your furry friends. A hutch can either be located outside or inside your home and its size and features should vary depending on the type and number of rabbits you have. A hutch needs to be large enough for your pets to move around, and should include an insulated space for sleeping and hiding. Most hutches are elevated by at least a foot or two to prevent the floor from getting damp, and any hutch that is placed outside should have a waterproof roof to protect your pets from the elements. More and more, it is becoming common to have hutches with multiple connected levels, particularly for pet owners with multiple rabbits.

If your small animal of choice is a hamster, you can provide a suitable home with a cage from your local pet store. In choosing a cage, you should know a bit about the species type of hamster you have. For example, Syrian hamsters cannot be kept in the same cage, as they are territorial animals and will fight one another. Most other hamsters can be kept together, but make sure you do your research before making any housing decisions.

When it comes to picking a cage for your hamsters, a wire cage is the most common option. Wire cages have bars that are coated in plastic and come in numerous shapes and sizes. For the most part, bigger is better. Hamsters like to designate different areas of their dwelling for different uses, so it’s nice if they can spread out. Many larger cages also come with various levels so that hamsters can move about vertically as well as horizontally. It is advised not to buy a cage with too many levels, however, as falling from a high level could cause serious harm to your hamster.

While some pet owners will also use aquarium style or plastic modular cages, these include the disadvantage that they are harder to clean and don’t always provide proper ventilation for your pet. The only time these other cage options are recommended is if you own dwarf hamsters who have a habit of sneaking out through the bars of a wire cage.

Reptile and Amphibian Terrarium

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There are a number of factors to consider when choosing a terrarium for your reptiles or amphibians. The most important is size. Many snakes and lizards can grow considerably over their lifetime, so make sure you take into account how large your pet could get before choosing a home for it. Also, do research about what different environments your pet will need. Does he need space to swim? Sun? Hide? All of these factors should dictate how large of a terrarium you choose.

Other important terrarium considerations include heat, light, and humidity. Many reptiles will need a heat lamp. Others might be better suited with a heat pad, made of foil coated in rubber. In either instance, make sure you are providing a heat source the mimics the temperatures your critter would want in the wild. You may need to monitor this with a thermometer. If humidity is a must, make sure you choose a terrarium with a solid and not mesh top, as a mesh lid won’t be able to maintain humidity. Cut holes as needed to provide some ventilation and to insert a heat source as needed.

The final terrarium must is a secure lid. Reptiles and amphibians can be masters in escaping, and unless you want to share your bed with your crawly creature, you need to have a secure lid. Make sure that any lid, whether mesh, glass, plastic, or wood, leaves no gaps around the sides. It is also useful to have a pin or snap closure so that there is no chance of the lid coming open.

Pet Toys and Supplies

While food and shelter might be the two necessities that your pet needs for survival, there are plenty of other products out there that, while not 100% necessary, can enhance the quality of life for you pet. From dog leashes, to catnip, to bird toys, there are hundreds of products that help promote physical and mental health and wellbeing for your pet. Sure, you definitely don’t need all of these products, and it can be easy to accumulate tons of pet gear that you rarely use, so it’s important to know what to look for in choosing miscellaneous supplies for your pets.

Dog Collar and Leash

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The primary supplies you’ll need for your pup apart from food and shelter are a collar and leash, and toys.

Most dogs can use a standard collar that is clipped around the neck and can be worn continuously or easily removed and put on just for walks or outdoor play. Standard collars may not be ideal for very small dogs or those with narrow heads such as Greyhounds because they can slip out of them. Greyhounds and other racing dogs are best suited in martingale collars that are specially designed to tighten when pulled upon so that a dog cannot slip out. While martingale collars won’t tighten too much that they choke the dog, it is still recommended that dogs be supervised when wearing a martingale collar.

As far as leashes go, a standard leash is your best bet. These come in a variety of materials and thicknesses to accommodate different preferences and dog sizes. While choosing a standard leash mostly depends on budget and preference, keep in mind that the leash should be appropriate for your dog’s size. Make sure that you have a leash that is adequately strong if you have a larger dog or one that is more likely to pull you along while out on a walk. Retractable leashes are another popular option, but these should only be used with dogs that you can easily control as they allow the dog a bit more freedom but can also compromise the amount of control you can maintain.

As far as dog toys go, your best bet is letting your dog choose what he or she likes. As long as there is no potential injury that could result from a toy, you’re good to go. Providing your dog with appropriate and interesting toys is important for a number of reasons. Toys keep you pup curious and intellectually stimulated. Some toys are intended to strengthen or even clean your pet’s teeth. Depending on the toy, they can also ofter a great chance for you and Fido to play together and bond. And, equally importantly, providing your dog with plenty of toy options will make it far less likely that he decides to chew on your new favorite shoes.

Always supervise your dog when playing with a toy for the first time. This is especially true of plush toys, those that squeak, or any toy with pieces that could come loose. Balls, chew toys, frisbees, and heavy duty ropes are all favorites and generally provide safe play even without owner supervision. Most toys won’t last forever, so make sure you are aware when a toy is on it’s last leg so that you can provide a suitable replacement and toss it out before your dog ends up eating a piece of it.

Dog Treadmill and Pet Stroller

Apart from toys, some dog owners will opt to get their dog a treadmill as a way to increase exercise. Dog treadmills are particularly useful for canines that live in climates that are too hot, cold, or wet, to walk outside on a daily basis, or for owners who can’t physically provide their dogs with the amount of running around they need.

When choosing a dog treadmill, there are a number of features to look for. It is imperative that the treadmill is long enough to comfortably accommodate your pup, even when he is in full stride. Ideally there should be an additional ten inches of treadmill space so that your pet can change speeds without falling off the back of the treadmill. Also check that there are no gaps on the sides of the treadmill belt, as even a small space between the belt and the siding could pose a risk for dog’s paw getting stuck. Never tie a dog to a treadmill and always supervise a pet using a treadmill, being aware of signs of fatigue.

Alternatively, if you have an older dog, or a dog who has suffered an injury, he or she may need a pet stroller if you want to take your pooch out on extended walks. The main considerations to take into account when choosing a pet stroller are the size, and they type of wheels. Make sure you choose a stroller that accommodates your pet comfortably when lying down. If you are buying a stroller for a puppy, consider how large your pet will be when full grown. The type of terrain you will take your pet out on should dictate the wheels you choose. If you will be covering bumpy or uneven terrain, make sure you choose rubber tires that will lessen the impact of the bumps on your dog.

Cat Toys

Many pet owners love cats for their playful nature. Help bring out the kitten in your cat by having plenty of cat toys for him or her to play with. Having toys available for your cat allows for her to stay both physically and mentally active and curious. When it comes to choosing cat toys, it is all about your feline’s preferences. Light objects such as ping pong balls are popular as a cat can chase them around, practicing her hunting instincts. Never let your cat play with objects that could be potentially harmful or could be swallowed including paper clips, rubber bands, or plastic bags.

Catnip is another popular “toy” for cats. This herb in the mint family affects around two out of every three cats giving them a playful energy that will last about ten to fifteen minutes. Most cats won’t react to catnip until they are 6 months are older, so young kittens will usually not show any response. Some toys include catnip, but it can also be purchased dried or can be grown in your own home. While catnip is entirely safe for your pet, many vets recommend only using it once a week or so or eventually you furry friend will no longer react to it.

Bird Toys

Birds are incredibly intelligent creatures and love to express their curiosity through exploring new toys. When choosing exciting toys for your feathered friend, think about stimulating different senses through toys with different textures, colors, sounds, and challenges. Birds often love toys with moving pieces, ones where they can see their reflections, or toys that make noise. Any bird owner is likely to know that birds love to chew things and given the strength of their beaks and quickly destroy any number of items. Make sure you frequently check your bird’s toys for cracks or breakage and dispose of any damaged toys before you bird has a chance to swallow part of it.

Be wary of any cloth or rope toys that can unravel and pose a threat to your bird. It is not uncommon for birds to chew at fabric or rope toys until threads come loose at which point they could accidentally strangle themselves. Keep any rope toys cut short to reduce risk, and don’t give fabric toys to especially destructive birds.

Alternatively, if you don’t have birds of your own but want to attract local birds to your yard, consider installing a bird feeder. There are plenty of different types of bird feeders, each of which is suited to attracting different types of birds. While tray or platform feeders will attract the widest variety of birds, they are also more work. As they don’t offer any protection, seeds can get wet and present a breeding ground for bacteria. Platform feeders require regular cleaning for this purpose.

A good alternative are tube feeders that can be refilled easily and will keep seeds clean and dry. It is recommended to buy smaller tube feeders so that there is a more regular turnover of seeds. Another option is suet in a metal cage. Suet is animal fat that has been rendered to form hard blocks. Suet can be coated in seeds and is a popular bird food choice, especially in the cooler months when birds need more calories. Suet blocks are easy to instal and change out, with minimal upkeep.

Fish & Aquatic Pets

While fish don’t necessarily need toys, it is common and recommended to include a variety of landscaping options in your fish tank for a number of reasons. Most pet fish aficionados will add plants to their fish tank to add color, visual interest, and to mimic the look of a fish’s natural environments. You have two options when it comes to plants: plastic or real. Which one is best for you depends mostly on how much maintenance you are willing to do.

Plastic plants are often prefered because they are easier to clean and maintain. Many aquarium owners also find that they provide brighter more vivid colors than real plants. The benefit of real aquatic plants is that they produce oxygen and help improve the water quality in your aquarium. That said, real plants do die and generally need more maintenance than plastic ones.

10 Tips for Pet Owners

As one can see, the variety of pets and pet gear that are available today is extensive. Regardless of what sort of pet you choose, the following are some good tips to keep in mind when caring for and making decisions for your pet. Follow these tips and you’ll be in a much better position to provide your pet with a healthy and happy life.

1. Make friends with your vet.

Just as you develop a close relationship with your own doctor, it is important that you also develop a relationship with your pet’s veterinarian. Try to avoid taking your furry friend to a different vet every time he or she needs a consultation. It is important that you find a vet you can trust and who gets to know your pet well. Always consult your vet when making decisions about anything from dietary changes or health concerns.

2. Read labels and ingredients.

Take the time to read labels and ingredients for the food you give your pet. You never know what chemicals or fillers might be snuck into cheap food that you shouldn’t feel comfortable feeding your closest companion. Check for whole ingredients, vitamins, and minerals to ensure that your pet is getting a well balanced and relatively natural diet.

3. Join a pet owners forum or meet up group.

Other pet owners can be a great source of information and guidance in making the best health and lifestyle choices for your own cat, dog, or reptile. There are many forums you can join online that have message boards and general information about pet-ownership. Depending on your city, there are also pet groups that meet up for play dates or to share knowledge and tips about your specific breed of animal.

4. Become an expert on your specific pet.

It’s worth taking the time to become an expert on your specific pet. Read up online, check out what information is available at the library, and chat other pet enthusiasts. The more you know about the specific needs of your pet, the more comfortable and confident you will feel in making decisions regarding his or her health.

5. Read reviews.

Whether you’re in the market for a new dog house or an aquarium cleaner, read reviews for pet gear before making a purchase. No one knows what works or doesn’t until they’ve tried it, and with the internet you have easy access to customer reviews on hundreds of products. Don’t just look at the overall rating, but take time to actually read what people have to say about a product to identify general trends and patterns in satisfaction.

6. Choose a pet that matches your lifestyle.

Getting a new pet is a big commitment. Before you impulsively buy a new creature that you’ve been coveting, assess how well this pet will fit into your lifestyle. If you work long hours and live in a small apartment, you probably shouldn’t get a dog that requires regular walks unless you’re willing to hire a dog walker. Certain types of birds are more active at night which probably isn’t a good fit if you have a small apartment or are a light sleeper. Make sure to do your research before you make the jump to pet ownership!

7. Consider buying used pet gear.

All of the supplies that pets require can add up financially. Before you buy that pricey cat carrier from the petshop, consider looking second hand supplies. A number of websites including craigslist.com and ebay.com often have great deals on gently used pet supplies. Sadly, there are many people who realize after a short stint of pet ownership that it isn’t for them. While this isn’t great for pets, it does mean that there is a substantial supply of used pet gear in great condition that you can get for a fraction of the cost.

8. Consider fostering a pet.

If you aren’t 100% that you’re ready for a new dog, consider being a foster parent for pets. There are plenty of organizations where prospective pet owners can foster a pup for anywhere from one week to several months. If you fall in love you can usually then adopt, but for those who aren’t ready for a long term commitment it’s a great way to still have a friendly animal friend. Fostering is also a great way to try out different pet breeds before choosing the one that best fits into your family and lifestyle.

9. Plan annual check ups.

Just like humans, it is important that pets have periodic check-ups with a vet, even if there is nothing visibly wrong with them. A vet will give your furry friend a once over, ensuring that there are no issues with your pet’s weight, senses, or general health. As a pet owner, you will enjoy having the peace of mind that your pet is happy and healthy.

10. Choose the right type and amount of activity.

Exercise is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle for your pet. Make sure that you know how much and what type of exercise is idea for your four legged friend. Some dogs can keep up on long runs, while others are happier with a game of fetch or a leisurely walk around the block. It is important to match your pet’s needs for both the quantity and type of physical activity.

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