6 ways to improve your pet’s wellbeing

There is always room for improvement, right? So, why don’t we pledge to be even better pet parents? If you are already the best pet parent there is – we salute you and we thank you. For most of us, there are a few more things we could do for our pets to make their lives better and, ultimately, make them happier and healthier.

1. We are family

If your pet is truly part of the family, he will feel loved, safe and protected, and he will also be less likely to get bored. Cats, dogs, birds and small furry pets can be incorporated easily into the family structure, as they are naturally sociable animals. By making your pet a part of the family and spending time with him, you will improve your chances of knowing when something is wrong.

Whether you’re planning a night out or a family holiday, consider your pet and whether he can accompany you, or not. If he can’t, who will take care of him? Make sure the person you choose will do so with love.

2. Food

Ask your vet which food is the best for your pet. Understand what is in your pet’s food, what makes it nutritionally balanced for him, and which foods you should rather avoid. Dr Dorianne Elliott, an exotic veterinarian at Onderstepoort, suggests: “Most fruits are safe for parrots, and a bowl of fruit salad will most likely be eagerly accepted. And supplement the diet of mice and rats three times a week with fruit, vegetables, grains and a small quantity of healthy seeds and nuts.”

3. Parasite prevention

Keeping your cats and dogs free of ticks, fleas and worms is an ongoing task. Tick and flea treatment shouldn’t just be a once-a-month affair, but should rather be approached on all levels until the nasties are gone. Speak to your vet or groomer about the best treatment for your pet.

4. Clean environment

One way to get rid of fleas is to clean and vacuum your house every day. Living in a clean house will also help to eliminate allergies in your pets and the rest of the family. Also make sure that your pet’s food bowls are cleaned before every meal, and that he has fresh and clean water to drink. This will also assist in keeping him healthy.

5. Stay healthy

If you realise that your pet has a health issue, take him to the vet as soon as possible. Also make sure that he gets all his vaccinations timeously, and give him supplements if necessary. Keep him healthy by making sure that he doesn’t become overweight and that he gets enough exercise.

6. Socialising and training

If you train and socialise your pet from an early age, and throughout his life, you won’t only have a well-behaved pet, but one who won’t be afraid in unfamiliar circumstances. “Continued training cements basic skills learnt,” says Samantha Walpole, a qualified behaviourist. Also, keep your pet’s mind stimulated by playing games with him.

Above all, love your pet for who he is and what he can do, and always strive to be the most informed and best pet owner you can possibly be. You owe it to your pet, so don’t neglect any part of taking care of him.

 

‘Do you know your dog?’ checklist

Here are some questions to help you learn more about your dog. Knowing him well will help you spot developing behaviour issues or ill health more quickly.

  • Based on his breed, what are his activity requirements, and does he get enough exercise?
  • Do you know his exercise limit – signs of exhaustion and fatigue?
  • Does he show signs of boredom, like digging, for example?
  • Does he enjoy his daily walk?
  • Which games does he enjoy – like tug-of-war or fetch?
  • Does he like water and enjoy swimming?
  • Which treats does he love?
  • What are his favourite toys?
  • Does he enjoy his bath and grooming sessions?
  • Does he enjoy riding in the car?
  • Does he get jealous of other pets in the house?
  • What makes him scared?
  • Does he hide when he is scared, or does want to be with you?
  • Does he suffer from separation issues?
  • Where is his favourite spot to rest at home?
  • Do you know when he isn’t himself?
  • Some dogs enjoy some time alone. Is your dog one?
  • Where does he go when he wants some ‘me time’?

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