Choosing a Pet: What kind of pet best suits our lifestyle?
Many behaviour and health problems in pets can be prevented by seeking guidance before obtaining a new pet. Not only will such advise help you to select the best pet for your household, but it will also provide information on how to prepare in advance for the new arrival. The species, breed, age, and sex of the pet all need to be carefully considered and it is important to make an informed decision about where to obtain the pet. Issues to consider when preparing the home will include housing, bedding, feeding, training, exercise and health care requirements for your new pet.
What breed is best for my home and family?
The first decision is whether to obtain a pure-breed or a mixed breed. Mixed breeds are often less prone to genetic problems that can arise in some purebreds. Also the cost of getting a purebred will be considerably higher than perhaps rescuing an animal from a shelter. If a pure-bred is chosen, it should be a breed whose physical and behavioural characteristics best suit the family. Some breeds are far more appropriate for children. Traits to consider are things like size, exercise requirements, and life expectancy. Small dogs generally have a much longer life expectancy than giant breeds. Another important thing to consider is coat type. Remember you will need time and money to keep some breeds coats looking well. Many need grooming daily and some will need professional grooming as well. Lastly, make sure you consider any reported behavioural or medical conditions prevalent in certain breeds. Some breeds are far more likely to require regular veterinary visits.
Once you have narrowed down your selection, we can provide advise on the behavioural and physical problems that you need to be aware of for each breed to help you make your final decision.
At what age should I get my new pet?
It is important for puppies and kittens to spend at least the first 6 -8 weeks with their mother and siblings. In order to be a successful and acceptable member of society, puppies and kittens need to develop healthy social relationships to learn to successfully communicate with other members of their species. So it is ideal to get a puppy or kitten around 7 – 8 weeks of age. It is beneficial if they have had at least one vaccine before.The first few weeks in the new home are critical in the development and socialization of your new pet. This is time to set down your rules and teach good routine.
On the other hand, getting an adult dog or cat can avoid some of the problems of bringing a new puppy or kitten into the house. This is especially true for dogs where the time and commitment required to train a puppy are considerable.
Should I consider a male or female pet?
In many respects the choice of sex is down to personal preference, but there are some factors you may wish to consider. In dogs, males tend to be slightly larger than females of the same breed and somewhat more assertive within the social group. There are certain undesirable behaviours which are known to be more commonly displayed in male dogs such as mounting, roaming, urine marking, and aggression towards other male dogs. Castration is known to reduce these behaviours. Similarly castration in cats will reduce behaviours which are more highly represented in the male of the species such as roaming, fighting, and urine marking.
Where should I obtain my pet?
Ideally, you want to observe the environment in which the pet is accustomed to. If you want to get a purebred, choose a breeder who is willing to allow you to meet the parents of the puppy or kitten. You can observe the size, the health, and the behaviour of the parents as well as getting an idea of the conditions the pup grew up in. Breeders who are willing to answer questions and allow you to see the kennel area or home are far more reliable. Avoid breeders who agree to meet you at the side of the road for a “hand over.” They are far less likely to be reputable breeders.
Rescue centres are of course another great place to obtain pets. By choosing one of these animals you are giving an unwanted pet a new loving home and the cost of purchase is often much lower. However, it is unlikely that the parents can be observed and a lack of information about the genetic input limits the opportunity to predict future behaviour. Most good rescue centres will have done basic assessments as to the pets level of socialization and needs. They will often be able to give you advise on whether certain animals mix well with other pets, children etc.
With the onset of cooler Autumn weather, you may be tempted to start dropping your guard against ticks, but late summer and early autumn is the peak time for pesky parasites such as ticks! Ticks are generally found in areas of woodland and long grass just waiting for an animal or human to brush past them so that they can jump on and feed. They attach using their mouth parts and will feed on blood from their host for several days before finally dropping off. Unfortunately, ticks can cause problems in two ways: firstly, they can sometimes cause a local reaction in the tissue where they attach. Secondly, ticks can carry infectious diseases which can be transmitted to pets and humans.
The most common one is Lyme Disease, though pets traveling abroad may also come into contact with ticks carrying other diseases such as Ehrlichiosis and Babesiosis, both very serious infectious diseases. In order to minimise the risk of tick borne diseases, monthly applications of spot-on-treatments will both kill ticks as well as repel them. Additionally, it is a good idea to routinely check your pet’s coat for ticks. They are most commonly found around the head and neck area. If you find a tick, removal is best
achieved with a specialized tick remover. It is important to twist them off to ensure you get all the mouth parts out to avoid local infections. Please ask any of our staff for the best tick control treatments for your pets!
Autumn Alert- Keeping your pet healthy!
AS WELL as ticks, there are a range of other parasites and issues for our pets to contend with at this time of year. Fleas are present in huge numbers in early Autumn, so remember to keep treating your pets! Fleas can carry tapeworm, so regular worming is still important. Harvest mites are also active in long grass in the late Summer and Autumn and will swarm onto passing pets where they tend to congregate on the ears, eyelids, feet and underside of the abdomen. They are easily identifies as bright orange dots adhering tightly to the skin and are usually a cause of great irritation. Like fleas, harvest mites can also bit humans!
Autumn aches: With the cold dark nights coming, it is important to ensure you make time for walking your dog or his mobility may suffer. Affected pets may show signs of joint stiffness, particularly after resting. They may be slow to get up from a lying position, or have difficulty going up and down stairs. It is also important to keep a close eye on your pet’s weight. It is easy for pets to gain a few extra pounds in the Autumn and Winter months. If you are at all concerned, please book your pet in for a check-up.