Top Pet Care Tips

Many people think that looking after animals is simply a question of making sure they get fed.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case – there is far more that goes into providing a good level of care for your animal, especially the larger ones like cats, dogs and horses.

Firstly, you need to understand your animal in the greater scheme of things. Cesar Milan talks about this extensively in his dog training program, that to really understand your pet, you need to think of them in this order:

  • the species (eg dog – and what the purpose of a dog is: companion, hunter etc)
  • the breed (eg labrador – bred for tracking, sports)
  • the gender (eg female – hardwired to breed and serve a master)
  • the individual (eg Peggy – personal history, gender/breed/species imperatives)

At the very core of every animal is the imperatives of their species, their breed and their gender. These are the things, great and small, that they are hardwired to do. Only when you have considered each of these things does the question of the animal’s individual experience come into play. It is, of course, an important aspect, but is more meaningful in the greater context of the animal’s existence.

Next up, appropriate food. Feeding a dog or a cat a vegan diet is not at all in the animal’s interest – you cannot be a responsible pet owner and push your own ethical or personal views above the biological requirements of the animal. Dogs and cats need meat in their diet. Horses and rodents need vegetables and the like. Birds need seed, fish need worms and bugs. Feeding your animal what is has evolved to eat, and in sensible amounts, is key in taking good care of it.

Finally, giving the animal shelter and love. Some pets are best living outdoors, some do better indoors. Small animals should not be left outside in very hot weather, and nor should they be left out in the freezing cold. Larger animals like dogs, cats and horses are better equipped to deal with the elements but still need proper protection from the extremes. They also need love and attention – don’t get a pet if you don’t want to interact with another creature.

They rely on you, and you’ve got to be up for the ride.

How To Have Stress-Free Vet Visits

Visiting the vet with your beloved animal can be extremely stressful for both of you.

You’re tearing our hair out, trying to get them in the carry case and into the car, without being clawed open or covered in excrement.

The animal’s freaking out because it’s not used to being caged up, not being able to see it’s surrounding environment, and because it’s learnt from hard experience that car rides in lockdown usually mean something unpleasant is coming.

By the time you actually arrive at the surgery, you’re frazzled and look a fright, while your animal is on edge and liable to lash out when it’s released from the carry case.

Choosing a vet who is a calm and soothing presence for your animal is the most important aspect of getting through these visits without too much drama. The vet should be a person who truly loves animals, and finds satisfaction in calming them, soothing their anxieties and helping them.

Some vets are fantastic at this. Their offices are warm and smell inviting. They use professional grade massage tables for treatment, often covered in fleece to keep tiny paws warm and comfortable. They have a range of little treats on hand that can get the attention of even the most fractious animal.

Not only this, but they should be good with people too.

Your vet should see you just as much a patient as the animal, as you’re the one in control of making sure the animal is healthy. Your vet should set you at ease, be honest and open about what’s happening, and make you feel like you’ve stepped into a safe haven.

Before you actually get to the appointment, though, here are some tips on how to have stress-free vet visits with your pet:

  • Make sure your animal is well-fed and hydrated.
  • Take it for a walk or let it run around outside so there’s no pent- up energy or anxiety that’s going to spill over the edges.
  • Leave the carry case around the house so your animal gets used to it and is not afraid of getting into it.
  • When it’s time to go, make the carry-case warm and cosy. Put some treats in and a covered hot water bottle if the weather is cool, so your pet feels comfortable and looked after.

Why Cats Make Such Great Pets

When it comes to having pets in your home, cats and dogs certainly lead the charge – though in fact, more people in the USA own cats than dogs (some 16 million more!).

This is because cats make truly great companions, no matter what your situation or walk of life. Cats are highly adaptable creatures, and will generally follow their owner’s lead when it comes to how much interaction they want.

If you love being hands-on with your pet, your cat will come looking for frequent attention. If you don’t have a lot of free time, your cat will be independent and will be equally available or unavailable.

There are a lot of reasons cats make a great addition to any household:

  • They are clean, tidy animals. Unlike dogs, cats clean themselves fastidiously and are not inclined to make a mess. They are graceful and nimble, and are unlikely to tear up your house in a frenzy.
  • They teach children gentleness and respect. Whereas your little munchkins can get wild and rowdy with a dog, it’s a different game with a cat. They have to learn to be gentle, calm, and respectful around cats, or the fun and games are over.
  • Cats don’t need as much physical exertion as dogs. While that’s not to say they don’t need exercise, they certainly don’t need runs or walks every day like dogs do.
  • They’re happy being left to their own devices. You can quite easily keep a cat in your house or apartment while you’re at work, so long as they have some toys and a scratching post – whereas a dog will cry and howl all day and drive your neighbours to distraction!
  • Having a cat has been shown to lower levels of anxiety and distress in normal pet owners. Cats have a way of giving you affection and attention right when you need it, and are really tuned into how you’re feeling.

If you’re considering getting a cat, do give some thought to getting one from a shelter. It’s unbelievable how many of them end up abandoned in these places, for no reason other than their old owners didn’t want the responsibility. Shelters are full of beautiful, well-behaved creatures who would love to be part of your family.

Why Dogs Are Such Great Pets

Dogs are probably the most popular pet in the entire world. People in countries everywhere have canine companions, and there has been a huge amount of research into why dogs are such great pets.

In fact, historically there are good reasons that humans are drawn to dogs as their first choice in pets. Early domesticated breeds of dogs helped humans to track and hunt, and they provided early warning systems and protection for intruders or aggressors.

More recently, the popularity of having dogs has become ‘quantified’ by science, going far above and beyond the intelligence, happiness and warmth a dog can bring to a human.

There are a multitude of reasons as to why dogs are such great pets:

  • They are empathetic and will actively try to make humans feel better. Dogs are drawn towards people in distress and will often demonstrate affection or ‘petting’ to make someone feel better.
  • They can detect cancer and can sense seizures before they happen. Dogs have saved hundreds of lives after being trained to ‘sniff out’ these life-threatening conditions.
  • They improve the health and fitness of their family. Dogs need regular walking and play, meaning that their owners get the added activity too. Plus, dogs bring a whole different range of germs into the house, which can boost the immune system of your whole family.
  • They help you to be more social and make more friends. People are drawn to dogs, so you’re more likely to chat with new people when you’re out and about with your pup.
  • Improve your longevity. Dogs create a lot of joy for their owners. This helps keep blood pressure and stress down, while putting creativity and happiness up. The less stress you have in your life, the less you will be sick and in need of medical attention.
  • They bring out the best in people. Veterans suffering from PTSD, kids with autism, highly strung students and even dementia sufferers see a reduction in social anxiety, confusion, and anti-social behaviour when they have a dog in their lives to keep them company.

And, it must be said, dogs are just such friendly, happy, loving creatures. Their happiness comes from making you happy, and they are loyal, inquisitive fun animals. As you can see, there are many reasons as to why dogs make such great pets – if you’re ready for the commitment, a dog can be an amazing addition to your life.

 

Don’t Get A Pet If…

I’ve been an avid animal lover all my life. I’ve worked with them extensively, and I’ve worked with plenty of people who have animals too.

One thing I absolutely can’t stand is to see people buy a pet for the novelty, and then ditch it.

Maybe it’s Christmas time and your kids want a puppy. You give in, go to the pet store and get a young puppy who has just been separated from its mother and siblings. You keep it quiet enough to get to Christmas morning, put it in a box with some breath holes, and soon enough your kids are over the moon.

A few weeks later, you notice a nasty smell coming from a corner of the living room. You’re annoyed, but that’s what you get for buying a dog. Not long after, it happens again. The kids are nowhere to be seen when it comes to time to actually clean up after it, so you’re stuck doing the dirty work.

A couple months on and now your kids are complaining about walking the dog.

They don’t want to spend time with this innocent animal; they’d rather watch TV. And you certainly can’t be bothered – you’ve got meals to cook, washing to do, bills to pay. The dog will just have to skip the walk.

Soon enough, everyone’s sick of the dog. You didn’t train it properly, so it’s badly behaved. You don’t walk it, so it’s distressed. You and your partner start discussing giving the dog away, or a trip to the shelter if all else fails.

If this is a timeline you can see your family following, don’t get a dog.

Don’t get a cat, don’t get a bird or a horse or a fish. No animal deserves to be separated from its family and then stuck with a family who doesn’t care for it properly.

Domesticated animals need love, attention, exercise and care. You must be sure you can provide those things before you commit to the long haul with an animal – especially an animal like a cat or dog that can live for 15, 17 or even 20 years.

Don’t get a pet if you’re not prepared to care for it like you would a member of your own family.