Be a Responsible Pet Owner

dog resting their chin on laptop while human has laptop on their lap

Do Your Research

The first step to responsible pet ownership is doing your research before getting a pet. Find a pet that fits your family’s lifestyle and make sure you have the resources to care for him for his entire life. Most importantly, don’t support harmful and unethical breeding practices when getting your pet. Learn more about finding your new best friend responsibly.

mother and kittens

Spay/Neuter Your Pet

Spaying/neutering your pet not only helps prevent homeless and unwanted animals in our community, it also has many health benefits for your pet! Learn more about spaying/neutering your pet.

Vet Care

Just like you, your pet needs regular dental and health checkups. Provide your pet with the veterinary care she needs, including physical exams, sterilizations and up-to-date vaccinations. This ongoing care will help keep her healthy and help prevent costly emergency care in the future.

veterinary check on a dog

Insure Your Pet’s Health

Always be prepared to cover the cost of emergency medical care for your pet. A pet insurance plan can help bring you peace of mind and ensure that your pets will get the care they need when they need it most. Learn more about pet insurance.

Collar, Tag and Microchip

A lost pet is an owner’s worst nightmare. Give your pet a ticket home if he ever gets lost.

Pets should always be wearing a collar and tag, even indoors. Make sure your pet is microchipped and the microchip’s information is up-to-date. This ensures that if your pet is found, you can be easily contacted and quickly reunited. Some pets have been reunited with their owners after years of being missing because they had microchips.

The OHS offers low-cost microchip clinics for pets in our community. Learn more about microchipping your pet.

cat eating

A Balanced Diet

Ensure your pet is receiving a balanced diet that meets her nutritional needs, and never feed your pet table scraps as some foods are toxic to pets. Talk to your veterinarian about the diet that’s best for your pet.

picking up dog waste

Pick Up After Your Pet

It’s important to always pick up after your pet and dispose of pet waste properly. Not only does this keep our community clean, it can prevent the spread of disease and parasites to other pets and wildlife.

Be responsible by providing your cats with the appropriate number of litter boxes. It is recommended to have one litter box per cat in the household, plus one. Ensure your cat has easy access to all litter boxes, and that litter is scooped daily.


Grooming not only keeps your pet looking great, it also helps keep him healthy and comfortable. Daily or weekly grooming provides an opportunity to detect fleas and other problems that might otherwise go unnoticed. While cats and rabbits do much of the grooming themselves, they still require brushing and nail trimming on a regular basis. Dogs should be taken a groomer every few months for a more thorough grooming including a wash and haircut.

cat playing with a toy

Play and Exercise

Regular exercise and play keeps your pet happy and healthy, and can help prevent behaviour issues. Take time each day for one-on-one playtime, exercise and socialization with your pet. Go on a long walk together, play training games or provide food puzzles for an independent mental workout. Not only will your pet feel more satisfied and less restless, this will improve your bond with your pet!

Use Reward-Based Training

It’s important to provide basic training to your dog, so you can keep your dog under control and keep yourself, others and your dog safe at all times. When training, always use reward-based positive-reinforcement training methods and never use intimidation or punishment. Remember – training should be fun for you and your dog, and provides an opportunity to improve your special bond. Learn more about the different types of training and how to start.

dog looking out a window

The Outdoors and Your Pet

The outdoors can pose a great risk to pets, particularly weather conditions and extreme temperatures. Always monitor temperature and weather conditions before exposing your pet to the elements. When going on walks, protect your pet’s paws from harmful salt, ice and heat conditions and limit outdoor time in extreme hot or cold weather.

Never leave a pet unattended in a parked vehicle, as even on mild days, temperatures inside a vehicle can quickly become deadly. Learn more about protecting your pets from the dangers of parked vehicles.

Always keep cats indoors unless supervised on a harness and leash. This not only protects them from the harmful weather conditions, but also from predators, disease, poisonous substances and traffic. Learn more about keeping cats indoors.

Follow City Regulations

Being a responsible pet owner includes following the municipal regulations for pets. This includes registering your pet with the city and abiding by the maximum number of pets per household. View the City of Ottawa’s bylaws for animals and pets.