Laws To Responsible Pet Ownership

Many people sadly underestimate what is involved in taking proper care of a pet. Being a  responsible pet owner is so much more than just providing adequate water, food and shelter for your pet. In this blog entry we are going to share what we consider to be the 20 “laws” when it comes to being a responsible pet parent.

  1. Owning a pet is a lifetime commitment. If you can’t make the commitment, don’t get the pet. Its really that simple and there are no excuses.
  2. As the saying goes, “Don’t buy a puppy if you don’t want a dog”. Puppies are for life. All puppies grow up and eventually become old, requiring special care in their golden years. The same rule applies to cats and all other pets.
  3. Choose a pet that fits your lifestyle. Don’t get a highly energetic dog, if you don’t have the time to exercise him. He’ll only end up channelling his energy toward ‘creative’ things that you will interpret as destructive and annoying behaviour! eg: digging up the garden, chewing the garden furniture, incessant barking etc …
  4. If you can’t afford regular grooming or can’t do the grooming yourself, pick a low maintenance dog or cat with a short and easy coat to maintain.
  5. Don’t make your pet a “backyard pet” – otherwise why have one? Pets, especially dogs, thrive on companionship and need to be with their human pack. Make them part of your family! It’ll be so rewarding :-)
  6. Spay or neuter your pets. There are thousands of homeless animals who die each year in shelters across the country. You don’t want to add to the problem. Despite the added health benefits of sterilising your pet, believe us when we tell you that your garden wall is no barrier for Fido when discovers his inner Olympic medal athelete in search of his Petunia!
  7. Be aware of weather conditions. NEVER leave your pet in the car as just 6 minutes is all that separates him from life and death. Also, leaving pets in the yard on a hot day without adequate shelter and water is risking their life. The same applies on a very cold day.
  8. Make sure your home is “pet” safe. Pesticides, medications, household cleaners, electrical cables and some houseplants can be deadly to your pet. Keep them all well out of reach. General rule of thumb – if your home is safe for young children, it should be safe for pets – keeping in mind that cats can jump!
  9. Put an identification tag on your pet… it is your pets only ticket back home. Both dogs and cats need identification!! Microchipping is excellent insurance, but an external tag is also essential as it could mean your neighbor returning your pet to you immediately instead of turning him into the pound. A simple collar tag with your personal mobile number is all it takes.
  10. Socialise your puppy at an early age – the sooner the better! Contact your local training school as they will normally have puppy socialisation classes that are safe for your puppy to attend as the first innoculation is always mandatory.
  11. Never let your pets run loose. Dogs should be walked leashes at all times. For the safety of your pet, any outdoor off leash access should be in a secure and preferably fenced area and not before your dog has mastered the recall perfectly.
  12. Unless you live in an incredibly quiet street (with little to no SLOW moving traffic or other threats), keep your cat indoors. An outdoor cat’s average lifespan is only 3 years, yet an indoor cat’s average lifespan is 14 years. In either case always bring them indoors at night time.
  13. Provide your pet with a proper diet with the right nutrition. Obesity can be as deadly as malnutrition. Be aware that some human foods can be deadly, such as chocolate, raisins whilst fatty foods can cause pancreatitis.
  14. Make sure your pets get the proper amount of exercise for their age, breed and personality. It’s a great way for you to spend quality time with them and get active yourself in the process!
  15. Keep your pets safe and out of harms way. Never leave a puppy or dog unattended in a garden where the public can see and gain access to them. Dog napping is on the increase and many dogs have been stolen whilst left alone in back yards.
  16. Always provide veterinary care for your pet when you pet is unwell. Keep their vaccinations up to date and make sure they have at least one annual check-up.
  17. Take extra precautions when you anticipate fireworks or loud thunderstorms. Fireworks and thunderstorms can be the scariest time for pets, so make sure your pets are secure indoors with some distraction like a television or radio.
  18. Be kind to your pet and show him with love how much he means to you … remember you are his whole world.
  19. Take special care of your pet during his senior years. Be kind, attentive and patient.
  20. Be the person your pet thinks you are!

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Survival Guide for Guy Fawkes – Keeping Your Pet Safe

I hate this time of year, as not everyone is responsible and considers the welfare of pets (including their own), let alone obeys the laws when it comes to the use of fireworks and fire crackers. Ironically most people don’t know what Guy Fawkes is all about and I won’t bore you with the details (click on the Guy Fawkes link for more info), yet they still insist on callously letting off fireworks and fire crackers in the name of “fun”, terrorising our normally confident, well-adjusted pets and turning them into quivering, nervous wrecks in the process. With this in mind and with Guy Fawkes coming up on 5th November I thought I would share some useful information on how to keep your pets safe and hopefully calmer.

It’s a known fact that more dogs, cats and sometimes even horses and livestock are lost and/or injured when there are fireworks or fire crackers being used, as they panic and bolt, sometimes smashing through windows, breaking tethers and jumping over high fences / walls, running blindly in front of cars and injuring themselves in the process.

We always keep our pets safely indoors and stay home during Guy Fawkes and New Year, but even then our Pit Bull Bruno pants, barks, runs around in circles and shivers, whilst our Jack Russell Kira quivers and whines. Our clowder of 5 cats hide away and have increased hit-or-miss litter box ‘accidents’, so all in all it’s not a pleasant time for any of us.

So here are some well documented, tried and tested (by ourselves) methods to calm panicked pets:

  1. If you know or suspect that your pet is going to fret or panic about any fireworks or fire crackers, stay at home and keep your pets inside the house with you.
  2. If you don’t know how your pet is going to react or aren’t sure, keep him indoors. Don’t assume that because he’s a happy dog, that he won’t be frightened to death. Both of our dogs are registered therapy dogs, for which they tested under strange and unusual circumstances, but are still terrified when the fireworks starts.
  3. If it’s impossible to be home with them, keep them inside and in a room where they can’t jump out of a window (even a closed one), preferably where the windows are set too high – eg: kitchen
  4. Put comforting and familiar things around him – toys, bedding etc …
  5. Just in case, ensure he has clear identification (microchips / collars or both).
  6. Before the fireworks starts, take your pet for a nice long walk (on a leash), play with him in your garden or give him mental challenge such as training session with favourite commands with yummy treats. Much like a panicked brain cannot think, a tired body and tired brain is much less likely to go into full blown panic mode.
  7. Give him a hearty and nutritious meal around sunset, which will make him more sleepy and relaxed.
  8. Provide him with something to do – safe chew toy, hoof, catnip toy, catnip spray …
  9. Scared pets often calm themselves by squeezing into tight spots or under blankets and hiding their eyes. Offer them a safe hiding place and leave them be … even if it means having a little face in your armpit!
  10. If you can, dim the lights to create a more calming environment for your pet – unless of course he’s frightened of the dark.
  11. Avoid fussing and baby talk, as this reinforces his fear behaviour. It communicates to him that he has reason to be frightened. Instead be casual and matter of fact. When you hear a ‘boom’, acknowledge the noise with a casual and normal tone “My goodness that was loud, but see it doesn’t bother me. Nothing to worry about.”
  12. Camouflage the sound with ‘white noise’ – radio tuned to static can work quite well or soothing music. The idea is not to drown out the sound completely so do not play it loudly, but simply to camouflage it / detract from it.
  13. If your pets are known to react badly and cannot be calmed despite using these suggestions, speak to your veterinarian who may prescribe a mild tranquiliser for your pet (and perhaps one for you!).

For information on the laws surrounding the use of fireworks and fire crackers in a residential area, please contact your local SPCA or police station. If in Cape Town, you can contact Cape of Good Hope SPCA.

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