Essential Information for New Owners

  • DO have both male and female pets neutered, to avoid unwanted offspring and to ensure the health of your pet.
  • DO lavish attention and affection on your pet. It needs love, and is totally dependent on you.
  • DO provide your pet a comfortable bed in a dry, draft-free location. Keep the bedding clean, to help avoid fleas.
  • DO act quickly if your pet is lost. Visit shelters frequently and in person; advertise in the "Lost" column of the newspaper, and check the "Found" column; post lost-pet notices within at least a 10-block radius of your home, and distribute them to people within a 3-block radius.
  • DO make a will with provisions for your pet, if you have no family willing to care for the animal for the rest of its life.

See also Should I get a puppy? and So, you want a puppy...

For Dog Owners

  • DO immediately obtain a collar, leash, and temporary ID tag. Order a permanent tag from a pet-supply store, and get a county or city license tag from your animal shelter.
  • DO NOT keep a slip (choke or training) collar on your dog as its permanent collar. Use a non-slip collar for everyday wear, and for attaching the dog's ID tags. Use a slip collar only while training, because an unattended dog can catch the active ring of a slip collar on an obstruction and, in panic, choke itself to death.
  • DO keep your dog inside or in a securely-fenced area. The law requires that dogs either be confined or on leash. Dogs running free get stolen, killed, injured, or lost.
  • DO give your dog basic obedience training. Select a class that stresses kind, positive training, and also do some reading and work with your dog at home. Basic obedience training makes your dog a better neighbor, and can protect it. It also makes it 1) secure, because it knows what's expected of it, 2) better mannered when guests come to its home and when it goes visiting, and 3) easier to live with.
  • DO NOT leave your dog alone for most hours of the day, as such isolation can lead to boredom, then behavior problems. Remember that dogs are extremely social animals and need companionship.

For Cat Owners

  • DO immediately obtain an elasticized safety collar and temporary name tag. Order a permanent tag from a pet-supply store.
  • DO consider obtaining a microchip for your cat.
  • DO confine a new cat in the house for about a week, or until it feels at home.
  • DO provide a litter pan for your cat. Keep it clean and keep the litter fresh.
  • DO provide a scratching post that's at least three feet tall.
  • DO NOT shout at your cat, except for the word "No".
  • DO NOT make sudden movements. Cats can be nervous animals.

Rules for Good Health

  • DO be sure that your pet has fresh water always available.
  • DO feed your pet a balanced diet of quality food.
  • DO NOT expect your pet to live on table scraps or hunt for food.
  • DO consult a veterinarian immediately about necessary vaccinations.
  • DO NOT postpone going to the vet to save money. Early treatment could cost less in the long run.
  • DO groom your pet frequently, and use a flea comb. Check for fleas, ticks, worms, and ear mites. Investigate flea treatments, and learn how to control fleas in the three vital areas: on the pet, in the house, and in the yard.

Rules for Safety

  • DO supervise young children around your pet, particularly when the pet is eating. Teach children to respect and care for the pet.
  • DO keep your pet away from insecticides and other chemicals.
  • DO NOT give your pet any bones. They can be extremely dangerous.
  • DO NOT give worming medications without consulting a veterinarian.
  • DO always confine your cat to the house or to a totally enclosed, indoor/outdoor area. Such an arrangement maximizes your cat's health and safety and is considerate of your neighbors.
  • DO confine your cat to a carrier when going to the veterinarian.
  • DO NOT use disinfectants containing phenol (carbolic acid) around cats, as it is poisonous to them. Don't give your cat any drugs, including aspirin and tranquilizers, without consulting your veterinarian.
  • DO keep your dog on a leash or confined when it is off your property.
  • DO NOT leave your dog unattended in a pool area until you have taught it how to reach and use the pool steps.
  • DO NOT leave your dog confined in a car for any length of time without water. DON'T park in the sun, or even under bright cloud cover, when leaving your dog in the car. Remember that what simply seems warm to you can be lethal to a dog within minutes. (Your entire skin surface is a cooling system, but dogs can only lose heat through their tongues, noses, and pads of their feet.)
  • DO NOT leave the car air conditioning on and the windows closed. Leave several opposing car windows 1/4 to 1/3 open when leaving your dog in the car. Remember that dogs have very inefficient cooling systems.