From cats to dogs to snakes, pets add a layer of joy and vitality to our lives. But make no mistake: they add complexity as well. If you’ve made the choice to bring a pet (or two or three) into your space, here are a few tips that might make it easier to have them around.
Be thoughtful about where to keep the cage/crate/bed/etc. Make sure to select a space that is safe for the pet (e.g. not near an active fireplace) and where the pet’s normal activities won’t damage your home (e.g. no litter box on the new soft pine floor.)
If you take your pet outdoors, hang the leash on a hook near the door so you won’t drag moisture or dirt into the house.
MAKE A FEEDING PLAN:
Decide who will feed the pet when. If multiple people share the job, consider assigning each person a day of the week to avoid confusion.
If you buy in bulk, consider a plastic container with an airtight lid that can be kept in a handy location (e.g. the kitchen), and then store the remainder in a garage or storage space. If you have multiple pets or a large pet, you may like a container with wheels for easy access.
Consider placing a mat under a feeding bowl to protect the floor or carpet. A rubberized mat can also help to keep bowls from sliding while a pet eats. Want to get fancy? Try a retracting pet bowl that slides under the kick of a kitchen cabinet.
Keep treats in one location. A decorative jar can be a clever solution, but a simple section of a drawer or shelf will also work well.
PLAN FOR GROOMING & BATHING:
If you bathe inside, keep supplies on a shelf or in a cabinet near the sink or tub.
If you prefer the back yard, consider getting a shower caddy so supplies can be easily carried in and out.
GIVE TOYS A HOME
Set an attractive basket/bin on the floor. Popular places are behind a sofa or tucked near a chair in a family room.
KEEP A FILE
Set up a file for each pet to hold:
- Vaccination record
- Insurance paperwork, if applicable
- Veterinarian name & contact information
- Copy of license, if applicable
- Record of medical procedures
ASSIGN SPACE & TIME FOR MEDICINES
If your pet takes medications (such as flea & tick treatments, heartworm prevention pills, skin meds, etc.), be sure to keep them separate from human medications. Add in a pen/notepad wherever you store medications so you can easily track when medications have been given (monthly medications often provide a space on the box to keep track…)
STAY ON TOP OF WASTE
Be sure to be clear about who clears waste when for pets who live indoors. (Set a schedule as for feeding)
Keep supplies for refreshing pet areas handy (e.g. newspaper, cat litter, scrapers…)
Always clear waste to an outdoor/garage location (preferably with a lid!)
If you walk a dog, keep a stash of plastic “pick up” bags near the door.
Keep an extra leash & collar in the car (they can break…)
Consider a safety harness or a pet carrier/crate. Pets being held on a lap or sitting freely become projectiles objects in an accident.
Travel with a plastic container that can be used for food and water while on the road. Remember to pack pet snacks when on road trips, as some pets may not react well to eating scraps from an “on the road” diet.
Always carry vet numbers, vaccination records and proof of rabies shots. And be sure your pet is wearing a collar with identification tags. [If you choose to leave your pet with a boarder, friend or relative, be sure to leave them with this information as well.]
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Pets – and a system to care for them – can bring unique joy to our lives. What tips have you found most helpful in caring for your pets?