Now, more than ever, we know that the companionship and joy fur babies can bring to people’s lives shouldn’t be underestimated, so how exactly can we make sure that we are the best pet parent possible?
Many of us are still working from home, with hybrid working seemingly becoming the ‘new normal’. One unexpected perk is that working from home enables us to spend more time with our beloved pets and has made it easier for new pet parents to be able to commit to looking after a new pet.
During the last 18 months, there has been a huge increase in pet ownership, with a total of 3.2 million households in the UK acquiring a pet since the start of the pandemic, meaning that the country now has 17 million pet-owning homes.
Research before getting a new pet
As exciting as it is to welcome a new pet to the family, it is important to consider what kind of animal will be the right fit for you, your family, and your lifestyle. An energetic puppy or kitten who requires a lot of training and attention may not be the right fit if you are often away from home and therefore cannot give them the attention they need. An older dog or cat might be a better option, as they are often lower maintenance. Remember, each dog mix or breed comes with its own distinct personality type and care requirements, so it’s important to do your research before deciding on a particular breed.
Before making the life-changing decision to get your chosen pet, you should also research the best way to care for them. Can they be kept in a small apartment? What kind of food is best for them? When should you take them to the vet for preventative health care such as vaccinations and flea & worming treatments? It’s important to know the answers to these questions, to keep your pet healthy and happy.
A trained pet is a happy pet
As a pet parent, it is your responsibility to ensure your pet is properly trained. Some owners have the misconception that their pets will start to behave better when they grow out of the puppy or kitten stage. However, while they may calm down and perhaps pick up a few traits on their own, they need your guidance.
Training is a crucial part of owning a pet and can be started at any age, although the younger the better. It helps your little ones to build confidence, provides mental stimulation, and even strengthens the human-animal bond.
There are some great training guides available online or you can attend puppy-training classes in person. Your pet will thank you for the time you invest in them, and in return, you will have a calm and well-trained four-legged friend that you can confidently take to different places.
Keep your pet’s environment safe and comfortable
Since your pet will most likely spend most of their time in the house, it is essential to make them comfortable and safe in their environment. Ensure anything hazardous to your pet is kept well out of reach. Check that your pet’s play area is also free of such things as electrical cords or string they can chew or get tangled up in. It’s important their water bowl is clean and full, they have access to a potty area or garden space, and they have a lovely bed to snuggle-up in.
Keep your pet active
Great pet parents recognise the importance of giving their cat or dog a chance to explore their environment and the ability to exercise their minds and bodies. It is important to walk your dog daily or interact with your pet via toys to stimulate them physically and mentally and get their blood flowing and mind working.
We all know pets love playtime, but it is impossible to be responsible for keeping your fur babies entertained 24/7. So, to prevent your little ones from getting bored when you’re not around, fill your home with pet toys designed to stimulate their senses and keep them engaged. Not only does active play and exercise help your pet to stay in tip-top physical shape, but it also helps them mentally and emotionally, meaning they are less likely to display unwanted behaviours, like chewing furniture, or clawing carpets, which can stem from boredom or pent-up energy. In fact, pets who are active even tend to live longer.
Make your pet easy to find
No pet parent wants to imagine losing their beloved pet, but accidents happen, and thousands of pets are lost every year. However, there are plenty of steps you can take that will make your pet easier to locate, in case the worst should happen.
From 6th April 2016 it became a legal requirement for all dogs in England Wales and Scotland over the age of 8 weeks, to be microchipped, and wear a collar with an ID tag. Owners not complying with the microchipping law, could face a fine of up to a £500. Microchipping a pet is a quick and painless procedure carried out by a vet. The microchip gives the pet their own unique code which can be scanned and matched to the owner’s details kept on a national database, making it much easier to reunite lost pets with their owners. Always make sure the chip is updated with your most current information.
For more information about microchipping your dog click on the link below:
Currently cats are not required by law to be microchipped, however there is much interest in making it compulsory following a Government consultation. More information can be found on this subject at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/cat-microchipping-to-be-made-mandatory/
As a responsible cat owner, having your cat microchipped it is the best thing you can do to help reunite you with your best friend if they go missing. Even if they are an ‘indoor only’ pet, your tracks are covered if they somehow become spooked and run out the door.
When it comes to choosing a collar for your cat, always check it is a quick-release collar (also known as break-away collar). Cats are curious by nature and often find themselves in sticky situations – caught on a tree branch or snagged on a fence. Should this happen the catch on a quick-release collar will open under strain of your cat’s weight and allow them to break free.
If your dog or cat is a night-time walker, you could add reflective stickers or a bright disc light to their collar. Not only could this save their life if they try to run out into the road, but it will also make your pet easier to locate in the dark.
Keep your pet well-groomed
As a pet parent, we know that a clean pet is a joy to behold! Clean fur and skin, no hair poking in the eyes, clipped nails, and clean, shiny teeth all make for a pet that is comfortable and happy.
Even if you think your pet dog doesn’t look particularly scruffy, grooming provides many health benefits for them. With proper pet grooming, you will get rid of shedding and be able to check for fleas and ticks, and other health conditions. More specifically, brushing your dog ventilates their coat, helping to keep it healthy and strong and takes away old and damaged hair. Grooming also ensures that your dog’s skin can breathe and keeps down the level of grease in their coat to prevent pores blocking and causing irritation and skin problems.
Look out for ticks
How do I know if my pet has ticks? What do ticks look like? These are questions I’m sure most of us have asked during our time as pet owners.
Ticks are blood sucking parasites that latch on to your pet’s skin for a blood meal. They can be as small as a sesame seed but can grow to the size of a 5p once they are fully engorged with your pet’s blood. If that is not gross enough, ticks can also carry a whole host of serious diseases that can be transmitted including Lyme disease. Lyme disease can affect both pets and humans.
Prevention is the best way forward to help protect your pet. As part of your pet’s preventative health care regime, you should include a tick protection product to help protect your pet – your vet can recommend the best one for you. As well as using products, there are practical steps you can take too. Whilst out walking, try to avoid long grass and bushy areas, albeit easier said than done when your four-legged friend is off the lead bounding around!
It’s important to check your pet’s coat after every walk, not just in grassy areas and woodland but urban areas too. Look carefully on their belly, lower legs and especially around their ears and face. Often dogs will bury their nose in bushes sniffing out the wonderful scents and come out with more than they bargained for – ticks attached to their skin.
Ticks can be removed by using a special Tick removal tool. These can be purchased from pet shops or your vet. Follow the instructions and never just pull a tick off – they need twisting! Ticks cement themselves to your pet’s skin and tugging them may leave part of the tick behind, which could lead to infection. If you are worried about a tick on your pet, contact your vet. For more information visit: https://bit.ly/RSPCA-ticks-on-cats-and-dogs
Ticks can carry a whole host of serious diseases that can be transmitted to pets and humans. So, to stop ticks latching on to you, tuck your trousers in your socks (even if you do end up looking like your dad!), and after your walk don’t forget to check yourself over too.
Final pet parenting thoughts
All these top tips can help you on your way to becoming the best pet parent possible, but the most important thing to do is love your pet as they love you … unconditionally.