Choosing a dog is maybe the only opportunity in life to choose a relative. (Mordecai Siegal)
Did you know that a recent study in the US revealed that more than half of pet owners surveyed said that if they got stuck on a desert island, they would rather have their pet there than the company of any person? Interestingly, on average, each of us has two pets at home. Further research has confirmed that our pets are clearly a health benefit for us – they increase our longevity, reduce stress, cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Thanks to them, we demonstrably feel better physically and emotionally. Plus, unlike some people in our lives, they are always happy to see us! For the elderly and disabled, they provide additional benefits. Studies suggest that the use of prescription drugs and the cost of caring for patients in nursing homes have fallen sharply in facilities where animals have been present. Likewise, older people sharing a household with pets have fewer health problems and do visit the doctor as often. Nothing but benefits for us owners. It is no wonder, then, that in the USA (where else?) an animal Bill of Rights and Freedoms was drafted to protect our pets, and which we quietly affirm as soon as we acquire any animal member in our household.
The Ten Pet Rights and Freedoms
- We have the right to be full members of your family. We love social interaction, praise and love.
- We have the right to new stimuli. We need new toys, new experiences and the feeling that we are happy.
- We have the right to regular exercise. Without it, we could be hyperactive, apathetic, or overweight.
- We have the right to have fun. We sometimes like to act like clowns. Don’t expect us to always be predictable.
- We have the right to quality health care. If necessary, please take us to the vet.
- We have the right to a good diet. Like some people, we do not know what is best for us. We depend on you.
- We have the right not to be rejected because of your expectations that we will be great show dogs or show cats, amazing watch dogs, hunters or nannies.
- We have the right to proper training. Otherwise, our good relationship could go wrong and we could become dangerous to yourself and others.
- We have the right to guidance and redress based on understanding and compassion rather than punishment and abuse.
- We have the right to live with dignity, and to die with dignity when the time comes.
This charter provides only a basic pillar of responsibilities in caring for household pets. If you own exotic animals such as reptiles, fish, monkeys or birds, keep educating yourself and consulting with reliable experts.
The Pet Files
Make a special folder that will contain as much information as possible about your pet. It should contain records and all information about its purchase, breeder and pedigree in case you need to contact the person from whom the animal was purchased. It should have the names, addresses and telephone numbers of all veterinarians and dog salons where you take your pet. Also, extra copies of vaccination cards, and an emergency veterinary care telephone number. Dietary records: food brand, how much, when and how often your pet eats. Records of training, problems in behavior, etc. Write down what he or she likes and vice versa. Everything will be useful not only for you, but also for everyone to whom you entrust your pet for short-term care, should the need ever arise.
Be on Your Guard
Acknowledge to yourself whether your pet is hostile or aggressive towards other animals, people or children. If you know this about your pet, stay alert and ready to intervene if necessary. Infants, young children, the elderly and people with disabilities should never be left alone with pets, unless the animals have been specially trained to care for them. Have a procedure in place in case your animal bites another animal or person. If you breed big cats, predatory animals or other exotic species, be aware of the risks and responsibilities to yourself and others. In any case, take out insurance that covers you in case the animal hurts someone.
Take regular care of your pets and follow the recommendations of your veterinarian. Choose a professional with whom you feel comfortable. Trips to a professional hairdresser once a month are usually enough, depending on the breed. In the meantime, brush them every day and occasionally give them a slight trim. Shorter cuts are usually suitable for summer, especially for black-haired pets who tend to overheat easily. Depending on the breed, they can also be bathed at home every week as needed. It is also an ideal opportunity to check on your pet’s health, inspect their eyes, ears and mouth and possible problem areas of the skin, etc. After the bath, rinse and dry the animal thoroughly to avoid skin problems. Use clean towels designated especially just for them and a hair dryer. You should clean your dogs’ teeth and gums at least twice a week. Dental care can be supported by chewing toys and delicacies. Your veterinarian will advise you when your pet needs professional tooth cleaning. Cut their claws as needed. Beware of paws in summer and winter. They can be protected with booties or suitable oily creams. When you get home, wipe off the salt with a damp cloth or wet wipes. If pets are kept outdoors, it is important that there are protective fences and that shade, shelter and water are always available. The animal should not be left alone to bark, run free or harass neighbors. There may be certain places inside the house where your pet will be denied entry. They will learn their limits only if you are consistent. Don’t forget to clean the kitchen counter and surfaces with disinfectant wipes if cats or other small animals get on them. Do not leave food unattended if the animal has access to it. Regularly take your pets to the vet for the necessary vaccinations (e.g. against canine distemper and feline plague, rabies, pertussis, leptospirosis or pneumonia) and keep copies of these records. Many veterinarians recommend spaying or neutering. But this is an individual decision up to each owner. Veterinarians can only provide statistical numbers that show that one cat with its offspring can produce up to 420,000 cats in seven years and a female dog can produce up to 67,000 dogs in five years through its offspring!
Beware of poisoning. Poisonings can be caused by our animals ingesting, for example, unwanted medications. Few people know that even “ordinary” aspirin and ibuprofen are deadly to them. Also pay attention to vitamins and minerals.
As far as foods are concerned, the most dangerous are dark chocolate, caffeine products, alcohol, but also onions, garlic, grapes or raw meat. Keep cleaning products out of their reach and avoid growing poisonous plants, such as climbing ivy, oleanders, cycads, daffodils or rhododendrons, as well as various types of mushrooms. Poisoning can be indicated by blood in the stool, vomiting, bleeding from the snout or unusual apathy of the animal.
A Clean Household, Even with Pets
Pets do require extra work, there is no doubt about that. Keep in mind that if they are allowed to be on or around different pieces of furniture, beds or carpets, these places will require special care. Their beds should be washed every week or as needed, but certainly at least once a month. You can wash most of their toys every week in the dishwasher. Food bowls and water need cleaning more often, preferably after each feeding. Bowls are often a source of unpleasant odors. Pet equipment such as toys, care items, leashes, food, medicines, etc. should always be stored in one place. But don’t worry, with today’s technologies in cleaning products, your house can still shine with cleanliness and a fresh scent, even with a few animal rascals are running around in it.
A veterinarian is the best person to turn to for advice on food, medicines and nutritional supplements. As the animal ages, consult your veterinarian more often and follow his or her instructions more carefully. Ideally, feeding should be provided by only one person in the household to control food intake and prevent possible animal obesity. Do not feed pets food from the table. Store their food and treats in airtight containers and don’t buy too much. It is important to pay attention to the freshness.
Fashion for pets can be both practical as well as outrageous… the choice is up to you.
Interacting with other pets and people is very important. In this way, your family pets maintain their social skills and you avoid their unnecessary aggression or, on the contrary, shyness. Entertain them with interactive toys or activities. You can put their food in a rubber toy or in paper bags to get the job done. Let pieces of ice float in the water so they can play with them. Get cats something for climbing and hiding, give dogs exercise. No one likes pets that jump on them, cause discomfort, or behave rudely towards other animals or people. If you have problems with your pet being aggressive, take precautionary measures to control it with leashes, muzzles, etc. All dogs should be trained in basic voice commands, such as sit, lie down, come here, give, etc., so that you can control them. Early training is the best. The pet will not have a chance to develop bad habits, let alone repeat them. If you experience behavioral problems, consult your veterinarian as soon as possible. As owners, we often need training on how to best solve problems. Educate yourself, so that you understand pets’ unwanted behavior well and as quickly as possible and can correct it as quickly as possible.
In the case of training, remember the following:
- Start as early as possible.
- Give frequent rewards (food and praise are more effective than punishments).
- Be consistent, set firm rules and always stick to them.
There are many excellent books and resources, but in general, if you follow these three basic rules, your pet will respond positively. Consult your veterinarian regarding exercise. For example, the average dog needs at least fifteen minutes of active play or exercise, three times a day. The highlight can be a trip to the dog park, once a week. Some breeds require much more exercise than others, so it is important to plan time with them. Fortunately, most small pets—except dogs—are less time and attention consuming.
If your pets will often travel by car, determine your procedures from the start. Many owners prefer that their four-legged friends travel in a shipping crate. If you will be transporting them unsecured in the car, make sure they do not have access to food, medicine or other things that they should not swallow. It is especially important to realize that animals must never be left unattended in a vehicle for a long time, as they are easily dehydrated. Don’t forget to take their food, medicines, bowl or bottle of water, toys, collar, travel stamp, health certificate from a veterinarian, passport and washing aids with you wherever you go on the trip. If animals are transported by air or other means, it is best to have sedatives ready ahead of time (there are even homeopathic ones available), transport papers, documents, guides, muzzles, travel crates or pet carriers, etc. Consult transportation experts. If the animals are to be transported by air, carefully inspect in advance where and how they will be transported, have the necessary documents ready and specify their care instructions very carefully. It’s best to supply their own food, and don’t forget to leave them their favorite blanket and some toys. If possible, bathe and de-flea them before the trip and do not feed them for three to four hours before setting out on a longer route. Carefully monitor them for any signs of ill health just before departure, and inform the staff responsible for transportation if necessary. Never entrust your pets to any place regarding which you have doubts regarding the care they will receive.
How to brush your pet’s teeth?
First, let them just lick the toothpaste from your finger for a few days. Then start massaging their gums with paste and finally introduce a toothbrush. Your pet can clean the inside of his or her teeth quite well with their tongue, the outside is up to you.
What if an animal is dehydrated?
Take them into the shade and give them water. Spray your pet with cold water, in the groin, around the ears and tummy, and turn on a fan for them. If you see that your pet is still not feeling well, take it to the vet.
How to give medication to an animal?
First, give them a piece of their favorite food without medication, and then add medicine to it. Or insert the tablet all the way to the back of your pet’s tongue, tilt his or her head and wait until your pet swallows it.
How to remove odors?
Try washing the dirty area with a solution of two cups of water, a tablespoon of baking soda and vinegar. Did you know that there is, for example, a Stink Finder on the market, an ultraviolet flashlight that helps to find hidden sources of pet odors?