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Providing Lifelong Care for Your Fur Baby

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Here at Medivet, we are always promoting the idea of responsible pet ownership. But what does this actually mean and what does it entail?

The 2012 edition of the PDSA Animal Wellbeing report highlighted that millions of our pets are not receiving the care they need. Generally, this is not due to cruelty but simply down to people not knowing the right way to care for their pet or meet their specific needs.

As an owner, or prospective owner, you need to think about whether you can provide the following:

  1. Care (diet and environment)
  2. Companionship
  3. The means to keep them healthy

1. Care

When considering the standard of care suitable for your pet, think about what YOU would need to live in comfort:

  • A regular diet of nutritious food
  • A warm, comfortable place to sleep
  • A clean, hygienic space around you
  • A secure and reassuring environment
  • Safe travel

One of the key recommendations for pet care is to get into a routine. This is useful for you as it helps you remember whether you’ve fed, brushed, walked them, etc. and is also useful for your pet, as animals can get very stressed if they have no routine to plan their day by.

There is a baffling amount of pet food available on the market and it can be difficult to know which would suit your pet best. Speak to your vet or nurse about which one will best suit your pet and your budget. One of the key issues facing pets in the UK is obesity, which severely damages your pet’s health and ruins their quality of life. In fact, letting your pet become obese is just as damaging to their health as letting them suffer from malnutrition. It also shortens their lifespan.

Any pet you choose to have will also need a suitable habitat, whether that’s a nice snuggle bed for your dog, an appropriately sized hutch and run for a rabbit, or a suitably equipped vivarium for an exotic pet.

2. Companionship

The PDSA identified this as one of the key areas where we’re failing our pets. They may be well fed, cared for and loved, but often their lonely and bored.

If you’d like a dog, you may have the image in your mind of walking with them, merrily strolling through the countryside. But the reality of modern life means that we are often out for long periods of time during the week, and have very little free time when we are at home.

Dogs will be unhappy and bored if left for a whole day and may become angry and destructive. If you do have your heart set on a dog but know that you can’t be there during the day, try employing a dog walker or sitter to keep them company during the day.

Dogs are, of course, sociable animals and some may benefit from a companion. However, just as parents who have a second child may suddenly seem to find themselves doing not double, but ten times the work, so two dogs can be an extreme handful.

Cats sleep, on average, for 18 hours a day, so will generally be less bothered if you disappear for a few hours, rousing themselves to go and demand food as you walk through the door.

However, if you know that there will be nobody at home during the day, avoid getting a kitten as they will be lonely if left unattended and will miss out on important bonding and socialisation time with you.

It’s small furry pets like rabbits and guinea pigs who tend to suffer the most in terms of companionship. Outside in their hutches, they can often get no attention other than to be fed as child owners grow bored of them.

Domestic rabbits live, on average, for 6–10 years. However, some have been recorded as living up to a whopping 16 years which is an extremely long time to spend alone and miserable.

If you are a dog owner, then you also have the legal responsibility of keeping your pet under control in public. If your dog is out of control in public, whether that be frightening people, biting other animals or worrying livestock, then you are culpable and guilty of an offence.

The law applies differently to cats who tend to go where they please. However, should your cat go on the rampage and cause a large amount of damage then you may find yourself liable.

3. Health:

As firm believers in the importance of preventative healthcare, we think it’s vital to keep up with a regular programme of vaccinations, flea and worming treatment and health checks with your vet. We also strongly recommend neutering and microchipping.

However, keeping your pet healthy is far more down to you than us for most of the time.

No matter the biblical storm happening outside, dogs should always be walked at least twice a day. Some breeds will need a lot more walking than others, so even if you really LOVE a Dalmatian, think about whether you’d love their Odyssean-length walks just as much.

If you’d like a dog but know that you are a touch on the lazy side, consider a greyhound as they only require short walks and there are plenty in rescue shelters crying out for a loving ‘forever’ home.

Regular grooming is also vital. Obviously, this can take varying amounts of time, depending on the breed of your pet and it is especially essential that very fluffy breeds like Samoyeds and Persians receive regular grooming to avoid a matting nightmare.

Remember that your pet will also enjoy grooming as bonding time between the pair of you, so even if you’re short of time, try to set aside a little space in your schedule each day.

Are you trying to decide on a new pet? Think carefully about whether you can fit them into your lifestyle. If that’s going to be a struggle, then it may be worth asking yourself if now is the right time to take on pet ownership.

Speak to a member of staff at your local Medivet branch for advice and to find out which pet could be perfect for you by using our online practice finder!

Posted October 2, 2015 by Sarah Allen in Pet Care Advice

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