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By Nan Talleno

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It takes a combination of dedication, compassion and a good amount of “pet parenting” skills to be a responsible caregiver to a companion animal. Here are a few signs that you’re on the right track:

1. Puppy and kitten proof your home if you’re adopting a young animal.
2. Schedule periodic visits to the vet to make sure that their vaccines are up-to-date; also schedule well exams, especially for senior animals.
3. Feed your companion animals a higher quality diet daily. Check the ingredients carefully to make sure there are no fillers and by-products and that the main ingredient is listed first.
4. Look for signs of erratic behavioral changes that may occur due to an undetected illness as these may occur even before symptoms, in some cases.
5. Observe signs of psychological stress such as tail biting or excessive chewing or scratching and look to find the cause.
6. Provide both physical exercise such as daily walks and runs, psychological stimulation, such as tasks or commands in the form of “sit” and “stay,” etc, and quality playtime daily.
7. Provide plenty of patience and consistency.

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