Next month is National Pet Month, a time when we all say a big thank you to our furry friends for being such good companions!
The best way to do that? Make sure you know the key factors for keeping your pet happy and healthy!
Animal charity the PDSA have identified 5 very important principles for tip-top pet care which are:
So, how do you make sure you’re raising your pet along these guidelines?
If you live with other people, you’ll understand how important it is to have your own quiet, private space. It’s the same for pets. Dogs should be provided with their own bed in a quiet spot where they can sleep without human interference.
Cat owners may find that their contrary pet rejects any thoughtfully purchased cat bed in favour of choosing their own favourite spot! However, it is always worthwhile making sure they do have a suitable bed available.
Because cats are solitary animals, living in a multi-cat household can be stressful for them. It’s important to help reduce stressors by providing enough resources – food, water, beds, litter trays – for each of them. Owners are often surprised when we advise that a cat-owning household should have a litter tray for every cat PLUS a spare one.
Small furries, particularly rabbits, often find themselves inadequately housed. Look at your rabbit’s hutch – how far can they move? The Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund recommend that rabbits should have the space to make a minimum of 3 hops (which is a good deal further than you’d imagine!).
Rabbits and guinea pigs should also have access to outside space, so something like a combined hutch/run is best to allow them to make their own decisions about what they’d like to be doing!
A good diet is the basis of good health. We know that the massive range of pet foods on the market can be confusing, so why not ask a member of your local Medivet team for their advice. That way you can find the perfect food for your pet regardless of breed, species and lifestyle.
Nobody begrudges their pet the occasional treat. However, sometimes treats can be far more frequent than ‘occasional’ – try and keep a food diary for a week to document everything you feed your pet. You might be surprised by what they actually eat, especially if it turns out your pet has been using their big eyes to obtain double dinners from other people in your house!
Think about the last time you experienced something new – were you excited? Scared? Anxious? We’re more open to accepting and welcoming new experiences when we’re younger, and the same goes for animals.
It’s important to introduce things such as scary noises (fireworks), other animals and experiences like crossing the road during an early sensitive period in the first 8-10 weeks of a pet’s life.
An animal’s personality is also still forming at this point, so set the template for your relationship with them – if they get used to being cuddled, held, etc. now then they’ll be happy to do it as an adult.
Day-to-day it’s important that pets get stimulation and playtime to keep them active and engaged. Bored pets will seek entertainment and attention, often through destruction.
Dogs, who live in packs in the wild, are social animals who dislike being left alone. When dogs become our pets, they become part of OUR pack so it’s little wonder that they can get upset and lonely when left alone for long periods. If you have to leave your dog alone whilst you’re at work all day, why not hire a dog walker or ask a neighbour or friend to pop in to see them?
Cats, as solo animals who prefer their own company, are less likely to be distraught with a little alone time. However, they too will form a strong attachment to their owners and will miss you if left for hours on end. Living with other cats is a chronic source of stress, so, if you’d like more than one cat, try and make sure they’re littermates who’ll be more inclined to get along.
Rabbits are social animals and will be depressed if they’re stuck by themselves all day. The breeding reputation of rabbits is certainly not to be understated so we’d advise getting a same-sex pair. Aggression can be a problem so we would recommend getting them neutered (which is also beneficial for health reasons).
We’ll always advise that prevention is better than cure, so make sure your pet is kept up to date with their vaccinations, flea and worming treatment. We also advise neutering and microchipping. Remember that, in 2016, microchipping for dogs becomes compulsory so why not get ahead of the crowd and get your pet chipped now?
It might sound like a daunting prospect, but it’s also important to check – and, in some cases, clean – your pet’s teeth for them. You can get special materials for this teeth cleaning (mmm, fish or meat flavoured toothpaste!) and it’s quite simple once you’ve got the hang of it. One of our nurses will be happy to demonstrate for you until you feel comfortable taking it on. Although they do not need brushing, rabbit teeth are constantly growing so it’s vital to check them frequently and provide plenty of delicious hay for them to chew on to keep their teeth the correct length. Bunnies whose teeth grow too long can get them clipped at the Vets in a simple procedure.
Have you got any top tips for looking after your pet? How are you planning to show your appreciation this national pet month? Let us know on the Medivet Facebook page.
Got a question about pet care? Perhaps you’re getting a new pet? Give your local Medivet a call for expert help and advice. Find your nearest branch by using our online practice finder.
Posted March 14, 2014 in Pet Care Advice