Got a new pet? For many of us, our pets are part of the family. They're not simply a cute and furry creature that we decide we will feed and bathe and otherwise spend hours taking care of them. They console us when we're sad and share our excitement when we're happy. They can often be the companion we need when other humans just aren't making the cut.

So rather than treat our pets like some creature who deserves less than humans, we should really think and care for them the same way we would any other member of our families. Everyone has different standards and different reasons as to how they treat their pets but it is up to us to show our animals the same affection they share for us. So here are some overall basic guidelines for taking good care of your new pet:

Food & Diet Basics

Just as humans shouldn't have tons of processed foods, our pets are the same way. Dogs, especially, can eat many of the same foods humans eat. Whenever you can, prepare meals with rice, fibrous vegetables, and cooked meat to feed your dog. Cats, on the other hand, are strictly carnivorous and should only have cooked meat.

To make things easier in feeding your pet, you can prepare large batches and freeze them in portions so you can thaw as you need them. If this seems like too much work, at least switch to a food brand that uses healthier ingredients. You'll need to do research and it's best to consult your vet to find what works best for your pets. The Top 5 Best Dog Foods and the Top 5 Best Cat Foods are ones we recommend. Also remember that treats should only be given occasionally so that our animals don't get sick or too fat.

Exercise & Care Basics

Sufficient exercise is absolutely necessary for pets to stay healthy. Whether it is playing with toys in the house or going for a walk, our animals need physical and mental stimulation just as we do. Find what they enjoy most and spend time working out with your pet. Remember that if weather conditions are uncomfortable for you, they are uncomfortable for your pet as well so make sure they have the proper clothing if playing outside.

To keep pets well groomed, brush their coat and trim their nails regularly. It is also important to brush their teeth on a weekly basis. At-home maintenance is fine, but it is recommended you see a groomer at least occasionally to ensure everything is handled properly and you can avoid many possible health issues with proper grooming.

Healthcare Basics

Healthcare is just as important for our animals as it is for the rest of the family. Pet insurance is available and is particularly helpful if your pet has medical concerns. You can read more on why  buying pet insurance may be a good idea here.   Some vets even offer programs that allow you a certain number of visits and tests on an annual basis. These programs allow you to test for potential ailments like heart worms or kidney stones. Some vets even offer in home services to make things easier.  There are also animal hospice programs that allow your pet to receive end of life care in the comfort of your home. Should an emergency arise without any form of pet healthcare, many vets offer a credit system so that you make payments as needed.

Our pets do so much to make us happy and it's only right that we do what we can to reciprocate. After all, you will never find a more unconditional love than that of a happy pet.

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