Owning a Pet

To get the most out of your relationship with your pet it is imperative that you exercise responsible pet ownership. This concept includes understanding your pet’s daily needs to give them the best life possible and ensures that your pets are not the cause of issues with neighbours and their pets, which ultimately allows pets and people to live together harmoniously. There really are so many benefits to sharing your life and your home with animals, and these are only amplified when practicing responsible pet ownership, through these easy steps.
  • Make provision for the care of your pet for its entire lifespan:

    • The expected lifespans of companion animals vary according to species, breed and living conditions. A responsibly cared for dog or cat will most likely live for one to two decades. Other pets, like parrots may even outlive you.
    • There are a great many benefits to owning and caring for a pet, but your decision to purchase or adopt a pet must be based on the reasonable confidence in your ability to make such a long term commitment.
    • This decision cannot be made on someone else's behalf, therefore you should never give a pet as a gift without the intended owner's foreknowledge and active participation in choosing the pet.
    • Your pet will have differing needs at different life-stages. The fun and busy puppy or kitten stage needs a lot of time to play and patience and persistence in training. Our adult pets need regular exercise and stimulation, while still enjoying our company. There are wonderful activities inside and outside the home that will give both you and your pet hours of pleasure each week. Our older pets need our love and understanding. They may need help to cope with age-related alignments, but should remain a valuable and beloved part of the household.
    • Signing up for pet health insurance while pets are young will certainly help your peace of mind, and your pocket, when it comes to taking care of your pet's medical needs throughout its life.
  • Choose your pet carefully to match your lifestyle and home environment:

    • Making the correct choice is very important to ensure that you and your pet have a long, happy and rewarding life together.
    • The environmental needs of a pet may vary according to species, breed and temperament. BEFORE you purchase or adopt a pet, please take the time to do some research on the type of pet you'd like. Ask your vet, use the internet, and speak to people who already own the type of pet you're considering.
    • The following are some useful questions to ask so that you can make the best possible choice for you and your household:
      • Find out how much space and exercise the animal and breed typically requires then ask yourself, “Can I provide enough?”
      • Find out whether the pet is a 'one-person' or family pet and whether they are likely to get along with any pets you already own and ask yourself, “Is my home and household suitable for this kind of pet?"
      • Find out how much time you would need to train, exercise, play with and clean up after your pet. Then ask yourself, “Can I make enough time in my and my family's schedule for this type of pet?”
      • Find out how much their basic needs are going to cost and ask yourself, “Can I afford to get this type of pet and care for it in the right way?”
    • If you can answer “yes” to all of these questions you are in for a joyful, healthy and rewarding time with your new companion.
  • Interact positively with your pet daily and check that it is healthy:

    • Pets have social needs, just like people – these need to be met to limit the chance of behavioural issues developing.
    • It is essential to your pet's wellbeing that you take time EVERY DAY interacting with your pet.
    • Grooming is an important part of the time you spend with your pet and can be great fun if done regularly. Brushing your pet's teeth, combing its coat, cleaning its ears and eyes, clipping its nails and giving it a bath are all valuable interactive activities and help to prevent health problems and unnecessary vet bills.
    • Playing and exercising are great ways for you to unwind and de-stress and both you and your pet will be happier and healthier because of it.
    • Daily physical contact like stroking, hugging and grooming are not only rewarding for your pet but will also make it more likely that you will notice any developing health problem early on to get treatment before it becomes more serious.
  • Provide adequate shelter and protection from harm:

    • All animals need adequate shelter from the elements. Heat, cold, sun, wind, rain and even snow can be harmful to our pets if they are exposed for too long.
    • If your pets stay outdoors, even if only while you are away, make sure they have a protected area that they can retire to, to get away from the elements.
    • Remember that different breeds also have different tolerance levels for heat and cold. Try to choose your pet to suit the climate where you live.
    • Ensure that your pets, especially dogs, are securely enclosed on your property, to avoid escape and possible injury through motor vehicle accidents or fighting with other animals.
    • Even if your animal lives indoors with you, you need to ensure that the environment is safe for them. Sharp projections, small children's toys that may be swallowed (especially by puppies), doors that can slam on tails or perhaps a sharp knife with some tasty food remnants on it are all simple examples that pose potential dangers to our companions.
    • Use of poisons like rat poison or snail bait can lead to the inadvertent poisoning of your beloved pet. Make sure, if these substances are used in your home, that they are used correctly and placed in an appropriate pet-proof trap or container, completely out of reach of your pets.
    • Always keep your pet in mind, in much the same way as you would a toddler or young human child.
  • Take your pet to a veterinarian for a health and wellness examination at least once a year:

    • Even if you check your pet every day for any problems, you may miss a problem due to a lack of training or knowledge.
    • Most pet owners want to ensure that their pets stay as happy and healthy as possible and that any health problems that may develop are discovered early and treated appropriately as soon as possible.
    • The best way for you to ensure that your pet gets this benefit is to have it examined by a qualified veterinarian at least once a year. A check-up every six months is even better.
    • Use this opportunity to discuss any concerns you may have about your pet, its healthcare needs, preventative medicine and pet health insurance.
  • Ensure that your pet receives regular vaccinations at your local veterinarian, usually annually:

    • Your local vet is your pet's best primary healthcare provider. Your vet wants to make sure that your pet is protected against the horrible, but preventable diseases that can affect your companion.
    • Puppies and kittens require MORE THAN ONE set of vaccinations while they are growing up and your adult pet should also get BOOSTERS regularly throughout its life.
    • Your veterinarian is also able to help you care for your pet by giving sound advice and treating any health problems your pet may have.
  • Always choose an approved preventative treatment against external (fleas and ticks) and internal (worms) parasites and treat your pet regularly:

    • Internal and external parasites can have a very damaging effect on the health and wellbeing of your pet. Most common are ticks, fleas and intestinal worms but others like flies, mites and lice can also cause trouble.
    • These little creatures may carry life-threatening diseases that can be passed on to your pet, and in some cases to you, the owner.
    • Some ticks and worms have toxic saliva that can cause pain and even paralysis. Flea saliva can cause severe allergic reactions causing your pet a lot of discomfort and making it more susceptible to skin infections. The flea also transmits dog and cat tapeworm.
    • The best way to protect your pet is to treat preventatively, even if you do not see any signs of infestation on your pet. There is often a reservoir of adult or developing parasites in the environment that could infect or infest your pet if they are not protected.
    • Make sure you use a product that is suited to your pet and read the label instructions carefully. Many products that are safe for humans or other types of animals (like farm animals) are NOT safe for use on your pet. Many products safe for use in dogs are poisonous to cats. Speak to your local vet for sound advice.
    • Since dogs and cats come in all shapes and sizes it is best to weigh your pet before buying a suitable product and avoid guessing your pet's weight.
  • Responsible breeders register their breeding pets with a recognised breeders' association:

    • Many pet owners have a particular liking for a certain breed of dog or cat and buy a pet intending to let it have puppies or kittens. It is important to know the breeding history and reputation of your pet's blood line. It also helps to know of any risks associated with that breed and any inherited diseases that may be common in that breed.
    • As a pet owner who wants the best outcome from breeding, you should only consider buying a registered puppy or kitten for breeding and educate yourself on the massive responsibilities a breeder has, in terms of developmental environments that affect animal behaviour right into adult years.
    • If you are serious about breeding, then it makes sense to link up with those that can help you find the best mate for your pet. There are many genetic and health problems that can be avoided.
    • The most accurate sources for the breed standards of the different breeds are the recognised breeder associations.
  • All male and female pets should be sterilised if they are not intended to be bred:

    • An animal that has not been sterilised is at greater risk for many avoidable diseases of the reproductive organs, including infections and cancer. Males and females are both at risk.
    • Intact (non-sterilised) males will also tend to fight and roam, which puts them at greater risk for bite wounds, motor vehicle accidents and lacerations from security fences. You are also more likely to get a complaint from neighbours that your beloved pet is causing a nuisance.
    • Intact females will regularly come into season or 'heat' in order to mate. This will attract unwanted male animals to your home and is a major cause of fighting, even amongst your own animals.
    • Unknown animals may carry infectious diseases with them and infect your pet during mating and when fighting. Some of these diseases are not readily treatable and could even cause the death of your pet.
    • An unwanted pregnancy in your pet can be the cause of great expense to you and even endanger your pet's health, especially if a complication occurs.

    For more on responsible pet ownership, view and subscribe to our blog here.