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As a pet owner, you already know that pets are not just playthings or accessories, but living creatures with personalities, feelings, and emotions. They require dedicated care and attention to be happy. Owning a pet is an enormous, but rewarding, responsibility. Here are five ways you can continue to practice responsible pet ownership.

1. Make Your Home Pet-Friendly

One of the best ways you can take care of your pets is to make your home safe for them. Keep toxic plants away from pets and keep any products containing xylitol securely locked away. Xylitol is especially deadly to dogs and cats, and it's increasingly included in food products as an artificial sweetener. And of course, keep lots of toys, beds, andfluffy blankets around to keep your pet comfy.

2. Give Them Plenty of Exercise

A tired pet is a happy pet. Exercise is stimulating for your pet's mind and body. It keeps them calm and obedient as well as trim and healthy. Some dog breeds need more exercise than others, so check to see if your pup needs to get out more. In general, provide at least 20 minutes of moderate exercise a couple times a day for both cats and dogs. Bonus: you'll feel better and get your own workout in at the same time!

3. Train Your Pet

In general, your pet (all dogs and some cats) wants to make you happy. When you provide obedience training for your dog, it gives him/her the confidence to know exactly what to do and when to do it to please the pack leader. Obedience training also keeps your pet well-behaved around other people and pets.

4. Spay or Neuter Your Pet

 Thousands upon thousands of cats and dogs are euthanized every year because they cannot find forever homes. Spaying or neutering your pet prevents unwanted litters of puppies and kittens. Yes, they're cute. But unless you want six more cats or dogs running around the house, you'll need to find them homes. It's not as easy as it seems sometimes, so often, these surprise babies end up in kill shelters or overcrowded rescues.

5. Cover Your Pet with Pet Insurance

When you have a pet, it's inevitable that at some point, you'll face a vet bill. Pets swallow things that they can't digest. They get injured. They get sick. And it's often difficult to meet the exorbitant cost of treatment. A good pet health insurance plan may be able to help. 

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances. 

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.