Pet Care 101: Being a Responsible Pet Owner

February is Responsible Pet Owner’s Month. Before we even get started, there’s a very important question we need to ask. What does “BEING RESPONSIBLE” mean? The PawSquad Leaders are sure you’ve heard that word before. If you don’t know, that’s okay, because we’re always learning something new! So the word of the day is “RESPONSIBLE”. That means being in charge of taking care of something or someone as part of your job or task, and being dependable, keeping promises and honoring our commitments.

Pawtectors learn year-round that having a pet is a great level of responsibility. When you (& your family) choose to have a pet, you are agreeing to take care of an animal that is not capable of surviving on its own without its human(s).

There are 5 important questions you have to answer for Pet Care 101 BEFORE you get a pet.

  1. Are we willing to care for this animal for its entire life?
  2. What animal is best for our home and life?
  3. Why do we want a pet?
  4. What do we need to do daily for our pet?
  5. How will you know your pet is happy & healthy?

Question 1 – Are you willing to care for an animal for its entire life?

Did you know that a cat can live 18 years, dogs can live 13 years, horses can live 25 years, parrots can live 65 years, and box turtles can live 120 years. Wow! 120 years – turtles can easily outlive humans. We aren’t telling you this to stop you from getting a pet. It is important to understand that getting a pet is NOT an impulse decision. You should also NEVER give or get a pet as a SURPRISE GIFT. Tiny, cute puppies and kittens do not stay small very long – actually they’re only small until they’re 4-5 months old, which is 16-20 weeks. If you adopt a baby kitten or puppy at 8 weeks old, you will only have them 2-3 months before they’re almost full-grown.


2. What animal is best for our home and life?

This is a pretty simple question when you think about your lifestyle and resources!

  • What kind of home do you have? The first question should be, do you have the room for a pet? Dogs need space to run, preferably a fenced back yard. Horses will need pasture land, and lots of it. Just a standard front or back-yard won’t do. You could consider getting a horse if you live on a farm or have enough property for horses to run and exercise.

  • How often are you home? Do you spend lots of time at home, or do you have so many activities of your own that you don’t have much free time? Some animals are fine with more time alone but other animals need regular, daily human interaction.

  • Does your house have a lot of noise and activity that might scare an animal?

  • Is everyone in your house old enough to be responsible for making sure inside animals do not get out?

You want to make sure that when you adopt a pet, they are the perfect fit for your life and family. You don’t want to adopt a pet that is going to overwhelm you/your family, or be unhappy in their new home.


3. One of the best questions for Pet Care 101 – Why do we want a pet? New word time again – this one is BENEFIT. Do you know what that means? Benefit is the good, positive reward you get from something. You benefit from eating by growing strong. You benefit from school by learning new things. You can also benefit EVERY DAY from having pets in your life. You should want a new pet because it will benefit you/your family AND the new pet.

Our fun Pawtector’s drawing below shows our favorite benefits.

  • Teaches Responsibility

  • Helps You To Exercise

  • Makes it Easier to Meet People

  • Eases anxiety (or being nervous about something)

  • Boost Your Immune System. This means if you’re happier, your body is going to be healthier.

  • Reduces Stress – that’s the unhappy feeling you may get sometimes when things are a little different than you’d like them to be.

  • Provides Unconditional Love & Acceptance

  • Teaches Compassion – Our #1 Favorite Thing of Being A Pawtector



4. What do we need to do daily for our pet? WOW Super Hero. This is a SUPER IMPORTANT question because it just asked what you are going to do DAILY! This is not when you feel like it, or when you’re told, or only when you might not have anything else to do. This is DAILY, for the LIFETIME of your pet.

Are you excited about that? Really excited? You will be responsible for the health and happiness of your pet. That’s an awesome PAWTECTOR Super Power, and you were born with it.

You have to be 100% ready to say YES and mean it. It’s okay to wait and practice being responsible if you aren’t ready yet. You will have an animal that will be 100% dependent on you for the following:

  • Healthy food, fresh water & a safe place to live – DAILY!

  • Companionship & Grooming – DAILY!

  • Vet Care, when needed! Especially small puppies & kittens need their shots to grow big & healthy

  • Toys and exercise. Play-time of at least 30-60 minutes a day, especially if you have bigger animals like dogs and horses

  • Love & kindness – all the time you are with them.

  • Spay & Neuter so they cannot have unwanted babies.

If you and your family think it’d be fun or cute to raise baby animals – you should consider being FOSTER parents for an animal rescue that has saved a mom and babies in need of help. Remember, babies grow fast – then what will you do with 4-6 more pets? Fostering means you keep the babies until they grow up and are big enough to find a home of their own. Then, whenever you’re ready, you can foster MORE baby animals!

Being a foster gives you the BENEFIT of:

  • Watching babies grow up & then be adopted to loving families like yours

  • Helping an animal rescue save more lives

  • Helping a mother animal raise her babies in a safe, loving home until they can be adopted

  • Being an even more compassionate, responsible PAWTECTOR



In addition to daily food and shelter, it’s so important to make your pet feel safe every day. Here is a list of things you can do yourself, as a family, when you have friends over. This list not only applies to any pets you might have, but to any animal you might meet inside a home or helping animal rescue/shelter. You should use caution with any animal you are not familiar with (inside or outside) and always have adult supervision to make sure you and the animal are comfortable & safe at all times.



Here’s a fun Pawtector’s daily chore chart for you and your family to complete. Animals are just like humans. They need what you need.

  • Food/water

  • A safe house to live

  • Someone to care for them

  • A place to go to the bathroom

  • A way to get clean

  • A place to play & nap too!

  • A comfortable, clean place to sleep



We hope that what you’ve learned in this Pet Care 101 will help you become a SUPER HERO responsible pet owner. Here’s a fun Best Friends Forever Contract & activity sheet for you and your family/guardian to do and sign together.



Thank you for wanting to learn how to be a responsible pet owner. Your pet(s) will thank you daily with their unconditional love. That is what being a Pawtector is all about.


Join the Pawtector’s PawSquad today – Learn about “Animals Around the World” during your FREE 14-day on-line trial. Super Heroes for Animals – fun monthly mission plans, activities, ways to help homeless animals year-round. For Kids & Teens, 5-17.