Here are a few tips to up your game when it comes to pet-parenting for the last year of the decade:
TLC (Training Love and Care)
- Give them lots of positive, appropriate attention. That might be cleaning their cage and talking to them, going walkies, or just lying together reading and purring. You can purr, right?
- Spay/neuter your pets. Millions of homeless pets are euthanised every year around the world. We have more than we can home and it’s because they reproduce so faithfully! Sterilisation can also lead to better behaved individuals less prone to wandering off and getting into fights to compete for mates.
- ID your pet with a microchip, collar, and tag with their name, your name, and your number on. (And consider a bell for cats who like to hunt birds, the felines have made a name for themselves as an invasive alien species because they kill millions of birds around the world every MONTH.)
- TRAIN your pet with positive reinforcement. Boundaries are one of the keys to happiness for all in a human-animal home. This is especially true of the most integrated of our beloved pets – cats and dogs. A feline or canine that knows where it stands in the pecking order will be much happier than one that doesn’t. For more on happiness, see “Emotional” below. P.S. Puppy school is misnamed – it should be dog school for the duration of a dog’s life (and you’re as much a student as your pup is!), and there’s probably one for cats in your region, too. Try it. We dare you.
- If you have a dog, socialise him by gently exposing him to other dog friends (or fiends, but make sure no confrontation or attack is possible with the testier types). Pack animals need to learn to live with others of their species on both a permanent and temporary basis, at home and in foreign territories, to deal with different dog temperaments and to enjoy time away from the alpha human(s).
Prep for good health
- Keep (all) vaccinations up to date but DO NOT over-vaccinate!
- Treat for ticks, fleas, and worms regularly (ask your vet how often, it can vary)
- Feed them the best food your money can buy
- Know thy pet poisons. You may be surprised what can kill a cat.
- Do not smoke or vape around your pets.
- Like people, older pets need annual check-ups – blood, blood pressure, EKG (heart rate).
- Maintain an ideal body mass (weight). Your vet can check their BMI (Body Mass Index). This is easier if you observe # 14 (below)
- Keep their living and sleeping areas clean. Cages especially need regular cleaning. You wouldn’t sleep next to your own poop would you? Blankets and toys gather germs all the time; regular washes with pet-friendly shampoo can help keep everything fresh and fluffy.
- Exercise your pet (this could also go under ‘Medical,’ but the fact that lack of exercise can cause depression is often overlooked. And that goes for your mental well-being as well!)
- Include them in family activities that suit their temperament and species, whether that’ your human family or your feather and furred one. g. Dogs “are traditionally pack creatures,” says PetSafe, “and need the warmth and love that comes with living indoors with their family.”
Rather safe, than sorry.
- Update your microchip details and tags as they change (e.g. moving, holiday, new phone number)
- Maintain fences at home.
- Put fences/barriers around danger zones e.g. stove, pool, driveway onto busy street.
- Put dogs on leashes when going for a walk.
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