Last week an interesting conversation with a stranger all started with a bag: I was having lunch at one of my favourite spots in Johannesburg, when I spotted an elderly energetic lady passing by with a “Harrods” bag in hand – It interested me, as I have always been envious about these bags ; and the bag had a cat motif on.
She must have seen the inquisitiveness in my face, as she stopped and invariably a conversation about animal’s was struck up.
She and I agreed, that although most people are excited about the approaching festive season, it was indeed a stressful time for pets and animals ( she is a widow who drives through the streets of Johannesburg and picks up lost pets).
Unfortunately in South Africa, the welfare system is not adequately equipped with the massive influx of stray animals over this period and we often read of the very sad stories, where a beloved pet was not claimed in time as the owners had not properly identified it and it was invariably put to sleep.
We are the Pet owners and it is our responsibility to make sure our animal’s are safe when we are away on holiday and of course as well as when we are fortunate enough to take our pet’s with us on holiday!
(Last Christmas one of our Client’s lost their gorgeous German Shepherd Dog on route to their holiday destination, as the dog was on the back of the open bakkie and jumped off at some stage; similarly a client lost her beloved cat, when she was involved in a Motor Vehicle accident en route to her holiday destination).
So the most important matter is IDENTIFY YOUR PET! You may think it is impossible, but any well behaved, well contained pet could make a run for it!
First and foremost at least put a collar and tag on your pet – an additional measure is to write a contact number on the inside of the collar with permanent marker. Cat’s should have safety collars on, so that if they get caught it can snap off!
In addition, you should consider microchipping your pet, as all Vet’s and welfare organisations have a system in place to quickly identify the pet and locate it’s owner. Be cautious though, that it is a reputable chip with a reputable and updated data system!( how frustrating it can be if we get a microchipped pet in, only to find out it is not on any of the databases)!
If your pet is microchipped, have it scanned before you leave and go onto the microchip company’s database, so that you are sure everything is updated and in order!
There are even tag’s available, which are trackable with your cellphone – regrettably still a bit expensive.
We often worry about the fact that we will be away for a certain period of time and that our pet will feel depressed, this is a human thought, as it has been shown, that a pet has no sense of time, BUT we can make it as Normal as possible for our pet’s that stay behind:
Find a reputable pet sitter and inform that person of your pet’s routine and habits, dietary needs, and have your Vet’s number close by. (Also arrange with your Vet to be able to see your pet in your absence and be sure to inform the Vet what your expectations and limitations will be, should they struggle to reach you).
If your Pet needs to be medicated have enough medication available so that is doesn’t run out and make sure that the Pet Sitter knows when to give it and how to give it.
In the event of uncertainty, rather book your pet in at a reputable Boarding facility.
In this case, your Pet’s vaccinations will need to be up to date and additional vaccinations might be required by the Kennels. Deworm your pet before and after boarding and make sure to use a Tick and Flea Prevention, as a lot of Boarding Facilities are in more rural areas.
The same information to be conveyed to your pet sitter, should be conveyed to the boarding kennel!
You could leave a T-shirt with your smell on for familiarity- at home or at the kennels.
It would be better to keep your pet on it’s current diet , than just let it eat what the kennel has to offer.
Remember that this is also the time of year, where loud noises – Thunderstorm and Fire Crackers are more prevalent. Know how your pet responds to this and have the best suited calming agent available – this is unfortunately not something which should be “spur-of-the-moment”, as different animals respond differently to different medications and it might be necessary to start up with the treatment timeously as well as permanently!
Have a safe place where there is calm and quiet , where your pet can hide if it is necessary.
You could keep your pet occupied, by having Stimulating Toy’s available, e.g where treats are hidden inside.
Also remember, that however confident your pet is around a pool, to rather cover it up, especially when you are away, accidents do happen!
If you are staying at home and expecting guests, be sure that your Pet can also move to a quiet space if necessary, and inform your guests of your pet’s social skills, what you would prefer them not to treat your pet with, as well as not to leave dangerous substances e.g. medication lying around!
Hopefully you will not have guests complaining about cats hair’s on the couch – these are not true friends!
If you are travelling with your pet, be sure, that it can handle the stress of the trip, as some pet’s become anxious and get travel sickness.
There are products available from your vet, which could help with this, but once again, don’t leave it last minute!
It might be a good idea to keep your pet in a comfortable carrier on on a seat-belt leash.
Make sure that water is readily available and never leave your pet unoccupied in a closed Motor Vehicle for any length of time – even when the windows are slightly turned down!
Be sure to stretch your dog’s legs as often as you stretch your’s, but do it safely – always on a leash – preferably on a harnass!
Remember, however cute or enticing it may seem to gift a Pet, please make sure, that the receiver is actually wanting and willing to take care of and take responsibility for their needy gift!
Wishing you and your Pet’s HAPPY HOLIDAYS!