Dumb, Dangerous, and Disturbing
Things Pet Parents Do that Need to Stop Now
Pet ownership—or pet parenting (“pawrenting”?) as we like to call it—comes with much of the same responsibility as raising a human child, at least in the beginning. There are plenty of dos and don’ts to consider, lest you put your furry family member in an early grave. That’s not a pleasant thought, of course, but neither are the things pet parents do, deliberately or innocently, that cause their dogs, cats, and other household animals harm. Here’s what needs to stop right now.
Bringing home an animal you know nothing about
Don’t bring home a pet until you learn everything about it, begs Nora Glover, founder and editor-in-chief of cat blog Catademy. “Animals have needs and don’t have return policies like your new smartphone,” she says. “They may seem very independent, but it’s actually not true. Cats require quite a lot of daily care and attention from their owners to live a long happy life. Your pet owner’s duty is to know about all your cat’s needs and learn how to satisfy them.”
Letting cats roam the neighborhood
Outdoor cats pose several problems, like contributing to the feral feline population through procreation, killing wild birds that should be protected from unnecessary predators, and drawing the ire of your neighbors from doing their business in their yards. Furthermore, outdoor cats have an average life span of two years versus 12 when kept inside a loving home. If you’d like your cat to experience the outdoors, take it on a leashed walk or build an inescapable enclosure in your backyard and call it a “catio,” because that sounds cute as hell.
Leaving dogs unattended outside
Small dogs left unattended outside can become snacks for predatory animals like coyotes, hawks, and alligators, depending on where you live. Being hit by moving vehicles is another, more likely cause of an outdoor dog’s untimely death. Exposing the animal to extreme heat or cold is a giant no-no as well. And then there’s the snatching, wherein criminals steal dogs to resell to an unsuspecting buyer, or hold them for ransom until your posted reward becomes high enough for the thief to pretend he or she found it wandering the streets.
Allowing dogs to ride unrestrained in the back of a pickup truck
According to American Humane, 100,000 dogs die in accidents each year because they were riding in truck beds. These accidents don’t have to involve a collision, either. Dogs can jump out, fall out, be stolen, receive eye injuries from flying debris, have paws burned on bed liners, and suffer from hypothermia in cold weather and heat stroke in hot weather. If you wouldn’t make your human best friend ride unrestrained in your flatbed, why should your canine best friend have to?
Feeding your pets harmful foods
Pet discussions usually involve dogs and cats, but what about other pets, like rabbits? Grass hay should account for 75 to 80 percent of their diet and be supplemented with fresh leafy greens and pellets, according to Sarah Logan, editor of The Bunny Hub. Foods you should never feed your rabbit include chocolate (this goes for dogs and cats, too!), walnuts, avocados, bread and grains, meat, dairy, rhubarb, iceberg lettuce, and potatoes. No matter what pet you have, always research what foods they can’t have before feeding them anything other than their usual diet. A seemingly innocuous snack treat could have deadly consequences if you’re not careful.
Blaming bad behavior on your pet’s breed
Cats and dogs aren’t stupid. But many people make excuses for their pet’s bad behavior by claiming the pet is goofy, can’t be trained, or has a bad temperament. Too often, poorly or untrained pets end up in high kill shelters, all because a human couldn’t or didn’t take the time to address and eradicate the bad behavior. If you have trouble, hire a professional.
Helicopter parenting a dog
Everybody knows that one person at the dog park who spoils all the fun. Their dog can’t lift a paw or get a sniff in before they’re scooped up and checked for injuries. Sometimes these people are judgmental, while others profusely apologize (for what, I’m not sure). Whatever the case, they just can’t seem to let dogs be dogs.
“Dogs bark, chase, and wrestle for fun; it’s in their DNA,” says Daniel Caughill, co-founder of The Dog Tale blog. “If you’re not comfortable with a little roughhousing, please stay away from the dog park, because you prevent everyone else from letting their dogs play when you start fussing.” ▼
Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and LGBT lifestyle expert whose work has been published in more than 100 outlets across the world. Connect with Mikey on Instagram @mikeyroxtravels.