Key to Pet Care Success
Welcome! This page is your key to pet care success. Here, you will learn what it takes to take care of your furry friend, as well as some interesting facts about cats and dogs. After you’ve read each worksheet, test your knowledge with our Pet Care Puzzles!
All great pet owners have three virtues in common. See if you have what it takes to be a great pet parent!
Showing respect means to show consideration, or to honor. All animals, whether they are pets or wild, deserve our respect:
- They are living creatures, just like us.
- They have feelings, just like us.
Playing with and feeding your pet is just the beginning of pet owner responsibilities. Owners must provide training, medical care, exercise, safe habitats, and grooming. They must clean up after their pets, too!
Wild animals need us to be responsible for protecting their habitats, and for recognizing their need to be left alone. If a wild animal is injured, an adult should notify the local Animal Care and Control Officer. Never go near an injured wild animal because it is probably frightened and in pain. A frightened, hurt animal is more likely to hurt you in order to protect itself.
Many fascinating creatures share the earth with us. We can learn about all of them through books in the library, the internet, or by asking people who work with animals to tell us about them.
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When you're done reading, complete this worksheet with important information.
Taking care of a pet is fun, rewarding, and a lot of hard work! Cuddling and playtime are great, but those are only a portion of what you need to do to show pets that you care about them.
- Make sure your cat and dog always wear identification tags
- Have your veterinarian microchip your pet in case they get lost and lose their collar
- Buy good quality, age-appropriate pet food
- Keep your cat indoors at all times, unless they are wearing a harness and leash Always have fresh water available for your pet
- Have your male cat and dog neutered
- Have your female cat and dog spayed Pick up your dog’s droppings
- Scoop your cat’s litter box daily. Replace the litter at least once per week, and add more litter as needed. Thoroughly wash and dry the litterbox frequently
- Clip your cat’s and dog’s nails
- Brush your cat and dog often to help keep them clean, and avoid tangles
- Always keep your dog on a leash when s/he is outside of your home or fenced yard Spend time every day playing with your pet
- Take your pet to the veterinarian once per year for a check-up and routine shots. Take your pet to the veterinarian if s/he is sick or injured. Dogs and cats need prescription heartworm medication, too.
- Provide toys for your pets, so they don’t get bored
- Learn how to read your cat’s and dog’s body language so you can understand them
- During warm weather, check your pet for fleas or ticks. If you find any, call your veterinarian
- Train your pets with kindness, praise, and a few treats, too
Check out this printable page to learn what you need to do to show your pet that you really care.
When you're done reading, complete this pet scramble!
Understanding your dog’s behavior is an important part of being a good pet owner. Dogs have different physical and emotional needs than people. Understanding your pet’s needs is the first step to providing care.
Why Do Dogs Like To Be Petted?
Who doesn’t like a good back scratch or a nice massage? Dogs like to be petted because it feels good! Under the chin or on the chest are many dogs’ favorite spots for a nice scratch. You should always politely introduce yourself to a dog before you pet them: Ask their owner for permission, wait for them to approach you, let them sniff your hand, and gently pet them under the chin.
Why Do Dogs Bark?
Dogs bark to give signals. They have warning barks when someone they don’t know approaches. They have barks that tell us they are feeling angry, barks that tell us when they are frightened, and barks for when they feel lonesome, too. But the best barks of all are the ones they use when they are excited to see us!
Why Do Dogs Lick Our Faces?
One idea about why dogs lick people is that puppies are licked by their mothers to keep them clean. This also encourages bonding. When your dog licks your face, they are saying, “Let’s be friends!” Unless you have some food on your face, of course!
Why Do Dogs Whine or Whimper?
When they are feeling unhappy, lonesome, or sick, dogs may whimper to let others know how they are feeling.
Why Do Dogs Feel Angry?
Why do YOU feel angry? Dogs feel angry when people tease them or try to hurt them. Always treat your dog gently and with kindness. This will show them
that they can trust you!
Why Do Dogs Pant?
The only parts of a dog that can sweat are their noses and the bottoms of their feet. When dogs pant they breathe in cool air over their wet tongues. This helps them feel cooler. Dogs might also pant if they are feeling nervous. If it’s not hot outside or if your dog hasn’t exercised recently, your dog might be trying to tell you that they are uncomfortable!
Why Do Dogs Dig Holes?
Sometimes dogs dig holes to bury things. They inherited this trait from their wild ancestors who buried extra food to save for later.
Dogs might also bury things to hide them.
Sometimes, dogs will dig holes if they are bored. If you see your dog digging lots of holes, that’s your cue to play with them, or take them on a walk!
Why Do Dogs Like To Chew?
When dogs were puppies they chewed on all kinds of things, just like human babies. The chewing made their mouths feel good when they were teething. Even after puppies’ teeth grow in, and when they are adults, they still enjoy chewing—it makes them feel content, and it keeps their teeth and gums healthy. Give your dog appropriate things to chew on, like rawhides, or chew toys!
Check out this printable page to learn more!
When you're done reading, try this pet owner word search.
Understanding your cat’s behavior is an important part of being a good pet owner. Cats have their own physical and emotional needs, different from people or even dogs. Understanding what your kitty needs will help the two of you bond.
Do cats like to play?
Cats love to hide, stalk, and pounce. Playing with your cat several times a day will help keep them fit, trim, and happy. Try bouncing a cat wand, a feather toy, or a large, open paper grocery bag for some kitty fun-time!
How do cats communicate?
Cats do not speak our language. However, along with meowing, they use their bodies to show their feelings. For example: If a cat’s tail is straight up, they are happy. If the tail is twitching, they are disturbed and should not be approached. Sometimes when a cat is scared they will arch their back and fluff their tail, or even hiss. Talking to an upset cat in a soft voice, but not approaching, will usually help them feel content again.
How do I keep my kitty safe?
Cats should be microchipped and wear a collar with identification tags. They can move quickly and easily slip through doors that have not been completely closed or jump out of open windows that do not have secure screens. An identification tag and microchip will enable the people who find them to return the cats to their owners.
Keep your kitty inside! Being with people, having safe toys, fresh water, proper food, and a litter box will keep a cat happy and safe.
Why do cats lick themselves?
Cats are instinctually clean, and groom themselves regularly to stay tidy and healthy. You can help by brushing your cat once per week. Brushing helps to remove loose hair and keeps your cat from swallowing it when they lick their fur. A long-haired cat should be brushed more often because their fur tangles easily. Your cat’s fur should be checked for fleas and hair loss, and his skin checked for bumps, scratches or scabs on a regular basis.
Why do cats scratch?
For cats, scratching is an instinct. It helps their nails grow, and keeps them healthy. Providing a scratching post will help deter a cat from scratching rugs and furniture. The sharp tips of their nails can be clipped with care being taken not to cut the quick (vein) that is in each nail.
Can my cat eat plants?
Many cats enjoy an herb called catnip. You can buy catnip in whole leaves to make your own toys or purchase ready-made catnip toys at your pet store.
Other houseplants can make a cat sick or even cause death. Ask your veterinarian about what kinds of plants are harmful to your cat. When in doubt, keep plants out of reach or sprayed with a veterinarian-approved spray that will safely repel the cat.
Why do cats use a litter box?
Cats are instinctually clean, and prefer using a litter box filled with cat litter— Think of it like a special toilet for cats. Their litter needs to be scooped daily, and replaced weekly. If their litter boxes have excessive solid waste and used litter, they may find another place to eliminate.
Do cats need doctors?
Like all animals, cats need wholesome food and fresh water every day to stay healthy. They need to visit an animal doctor called a veterinarian, or “vet,” once per year for a checkup and routine shots. Cats also need to visit the veterinarian if they become sick, injured, or if their behavior changes.
Check out this printable page to learn more!
When you're done reading, try this pet care crossword.