Tips for New Pet Owners

by Sunjay Muralitharan, Ginnie Tang and Christina Lin, July 8, 2021

Did you know that there are over 70 million stray pets in the US? This is primarily because many Americans purchase pets without doing proper research. In order to prevent this alarmingly high number from rising, you need to consider some things before getting a pet. In this article we will discuss some tips on how to care for various different pets.


Photo: Aquarium Source

When it comes to pet care, the needs of fish are commonly overlooked and ignored. To many, fish are not viewed as living things, instead they are seen as decorations to spice up their home atmosphere; this viewpoint has led to a culture of mistreatment in the fish keeping hobby among beginner fish keepers. This horrific culture can be ended if beginner fish keepers take the necessary steps to ensure their fish can thrive before they purchase them. These steps include cycling your fish tank, making sure your tank is large enough for the fish you plan on purchasing and making sure you have the necessary equipment for your tank

Probably the most common mistake that beginner fish keepers make is forgetting to cycle their tank. The term cycling refers to the process where new bacteria colonies must be established to regulate your tank’s nitrogen cycle; if you skip over this process your tank will be an inhospitable wasteland for the vast majority of aquarium fish. The easiest way to start this process is to use a nitrifying bacteria starter. You can purchase a nitrifying bacteria starter from any of your local fish stores, after adding it wait a few weeks and your tank will be safe to add new fish.

Making sure your tank is large enough for the fish you plan on purchasing is also a vital precaution to take. If your tank becomes too overcrowded, ammonia and nitrite levels may spike which can decimate your tank’s population. In order to avoid this, you should try to follow the “1 inch per gallon rule” where the cumulative length of your fish in inches should not exceed your tanks capacity in gallons. For example a 5 gallon tank can house 5 one inch long Ember Tetras. This rule works perfectly for smaller fish and is relatively applicable for larger ones. Most larger fish however tend to have some kind of minimal tank requirement, this can be found out with a quick google search. To learn about which fish are the best for beginners, click here.

As for equipment, all fish tanks require a filter, heater, thermometer, lighting, substrate and an air pump. Their purposes as follows:

  • Filter: Maintain water quality
  • Heater: Maintains tank temperature
  • Thermometer: Measures water temperature
  • Lighting: Helps with plant growth and viewing
  • Substrate: Improves tank appearance and helps with aquarium filtration
  • Air Pump: Maintain tank oxygen capacity


Photo: Good Housekeeping

It is a common thing to adopt a dog, but have you ever thought of what care needs they may have? Here are some questions to ask yourself before you get a dog:

  • Do I have enough money in my budget?
  • Can I pay for the vet bills and its daily needs?
  • Do I have enough time to give attention?
  • Do I have a good environment for it to live in?
  • Do I have enough patience for its messes?

It takes about 20-50 dollars for each vet appointment (if your dog doesn’t have any problems). In addition they require at least about 5 hours of attention each day plus food and water. And the most important thing is, they need a lot of play time and walks. A regular walk should take about 45 minutes and people should walk a dog three times a day (each walk being 45 minutes long).

Dogs also need to socialize with their own kind. But, you can't do it in a haste or else, the dogs might fight. The first step is for them to meet through a fence. Then proceed to let them sniff each other so they can know each other better. The last step is to let them off their leashes and let them play.

To learn more about dogs and how to take care of dogs click here.

Small Animals

Photo: The Guardian

When a beginner pet keeper wants to own a pet, they generally think of small animals (rats, mice, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, etc). But the truth is, small animals need as much attention as dogs and cats do. It is true that their vet bills and food are a lot cheaper, but they themselves can make big messes in your house. To prevent overloading yourself, here are some tips: Clean your pet’s living space every two or three days. Make sure they do not starve (Give them grass and pellets each day). Give them clean food. Refill their water daily. You can buy pet food at local supermarkets, pet stores, and online.


Rabbits are a bit harder to keep than other small animals. They are normally viewed as calm animals, but they are actually sometimes really hyper. Wild rabbits are prey animals, so they have a habit of running away and hiding. You can calm your rabbit down by feeding them calming treats or playing with them. You should take your rabbit to the vet for a check-up annually, or twice a year if your rabbit is over 5 years of age. For more about vet visits, click here.

Rabbits need to exercise every day and hence need space to run around. You can buy equipment and toys to help keep them entertained here.

Your rabbit needs to be fed in the morning and evening. To learn about what food you should or should not feed your rabbit click here.