Animals require many of the same things that humans need to survive. They need clean water, food, and a good environment. Food and environment vary based on what you are caring for, (but with the exception of fish) clean fresh water is always required.
For some animals a good environment might be love and attention and a warm place to sleep. Other animals might need a place to hide and very little human interaction. Animals that are domesticated often thrive under human attention. Examples of domesticated animals are cats, dogs, and rabbits. Exotic pets generally do best when their caretaker focuses on providing an environment very similar to their natural habitat - an animal from the desert would do best in a warm, dry, and bright cage.
Even though all animals need food, different animals eat different things. A cat is an example of a pet that only eats meat. A dog is an omnivore, it has a diet which includes plants and animals. Nutritional needs vary across the animal kingdom, and it is hard as an owner to figure out exactly what vitamins and minerals your pet might need. The easiest solution is to visit your pet store and buy food specifically designed for what animal you have. As a general rule it is a bad idea to feed your pet food that you eat - some of it may be poisonous to them.
Medical care is just as important for pets as it is for people. Many of the same health problem you have your pet can also suffer from (such as cancer, blindness, and even colds). Before you adopt an animal you should find a veterinarian nearby who can look after your animal. Most vets work with common domestic pets, if you are an exotic pet owner you should seek out a veterinarian who specializes in that species.
Keeping Yourself InformedEdit
These guidelines vary based on which animal you are caring for. When you buy or adopt an animal you should ask the person you are buying/adopting from how to properly care for your new pet, and where to find more information if you need it. Many health and behavior problems can be avoided with good care.