A to Z on pet care (Part 2 of 3)

Do you have what it takes to be a responsible pet owner? Caring for an animal requires a firm commitment to the animal’s health and welfare throughout his life

Responsible pet ownership doesn’t stop with a bowl of food and fresh water. It means that you have a commitment to providing your pet with everything he needs, from love and attention, to shelter, safety and medical care. You also have a responsibility toward your community in how your pet behaves in public places.

Interactive play can be fun

Spending quality time with your dog or cat is fun. He doesn’t deserve to be placed in the backyard and forgotten about. Dedicate time every day to play with or walk your dog around your neighbourhood. Interactive play in the garden could be as simple as throwing a ball or Frisbee for him to fetch. Cats enjoy games with catnip toys and teasers. Other pets like birds, hamsters, guinea pigs and chinchillas should enjoy time out of their cages with you.

Join a puppy or kitten class

If your puppy isn’t properly exposed to various situations or given a chance to new learn things, he may have difficulty adjusting to them at a later stage. For dogs, the sensitive period for socialisation is between six and 14 weeks. The aim of puppy classes is to guide your boisterous pup to more appropriate behaviour and educate both puppy and owner. Puppies can attend classes after they have received their second vaccination. Kitty classes are aimed at owner education. You’ll receive valuable information on nutrition, grooming, socialisation, health issues and behaviour problems.

Kennels must be safe and clean

Responsible pet owners consider their pet’s safety while they are on holiday. If you want to place your pet in a boarding kennel or cattery, visit the facilities before you book. For dogs, check that there is a patch of garden connected to the night pen. Your pet should also be exercised out of his kennel every day. All vaccinations and deworming must be up to date before your pet will be accepted into a kennel. The same rules apply for catteries.

Love your pet, he needs it!

Having a pet isn’t only about food and vet bills. You should give your pet the love and attention he deserves. Meet your dog’s emotional needs by touching him and providing support when he’s afraid, like during a thunderstorm or when there are fireworks. Some cats like a cuddle too, but often on their own terms.

Microchip your pets

Microchipping is a safe and effective method of ensuring that your pet can be easily identified. Microchips are implanted under the animal’s skin and are read by a hand-held scanner. Most vets are able to implant the chip. At the very least, your pet should have a collar with your name and contact details on the tag.

Neuter or spay your pets

Sterilising or neutering your pet is not only is the most effective way of preventing unwanted puppies or kittens, but has many health benefits for the animal. It can prevent pets from straying away from home. Even small pets like rabbits can be spayed or neutered to prevent unwanted litters.

Outdoor and indoor safety

Provide your pet with a safe environment to live in. Dangerous chemicals, small objects and electrical cords are just a few of the things that must be safely put away. Smaller animals like guinea pigs and chinchillas will chew anything in sight, so if you let your pet out of his cage, remember to keep electrical cords out of reach. Cat-proofing a home isn’t as simple as looking for dangers at ground level. Cats are naturally curious and your cat will jump up as high as she likes. Place chemicals cleaners and heavy objects in a locked cupboard – never on a high shelf. Garden sheds or garages are notorious danger zones! Keep pesticides, pool chemicals and anti-freeze in a locked cabinet.

Plants can make your pet sick

Some plants can be toxic to pets. Both dogs and cats may chew on plants, so make sure you know what is in your garden and whether it is toxic to animals. Also check on indoor plants. Chewing on plants can be a sign of boredom, so provide plenty of chew toys for dogs, and toys and scratching posts for cats.

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