A Life – long commitment: responsible pet ownership already begins, before you bring home your new pet – by choosing the right pet! Consider your life-style – have you got time, energy and patience to care for a pet; have you got enough space; can you afford it? If you can answer “yes” to all these prerogatives, then you are probably ready and willing to be a responsible pet owner.
Food and water: Pets need fresh food and water every day. Keep your pet healthy by making sure, it receives the right nutrients it needs – in its diet. Cats and dogs can acquire a taste for many of the delicacies humans indulge in – chocolate seems to be a winner – but keep in mind that this “treat” could harm your pet. In both dogs and cats, certain foods are known to cause health problems and should be avoided e.g. onions, chocolate, (too much chocolate can actually poison a dog) milk and table scraps. Dog food is also harmful for cats and cat food is too high in protein for dogs.
An exclusive diet of any single food will create health problems, because it will not provide the balance of nutrients needed e.g. cats fed solely on fish develop a vitamin A deficiency, which will eventually lead to liver damage and weak bones and joints.
Proper nutrition is an important part in preventing many diseases and most modern pet foods, have been scientifically formulated to meet in your pet’s nutritional and dietary needs – check the feeding guidelines on the packet and ask your vet to advise you.
Nutrients that could be harmful to your pet’s health include:
- Magnesium: too much, may contribute to fatal urinary diseases in cats by forming crystals or stones in the urinary tract.
- Phosphorus: too much can cause bone problems and may contribute to kidney disease in both cats and dogs.
- Calcium: excessively it may cause skin problems, retard growth and lower normal quantities of zinc, phosphorus, iron and copper, which will then cause health problems.
- Sodium: excessively it may contribute to heart disease, kidney disease and hypertension.
- Protein: too much protein can cause the kidneys to work overtime to rid the body of waste products – thereby contributing to kidney failure.
- Fat: in inactive or obese-prone animals it can cause obesity, it is however important to supply the calories needed in active cats and dogs.
~ pet owners should realize, that they are faced with the responsibility of their pet’s health.
Take your pet to a veterinarian immediately if it looks ill. Signs of illness include: loss of appetite, change in behaviour, listlessness, vomiting, diarrhoea…. If in any doubt – consult your vet. Preventative health-care measures can also be taken to keep your pet disease free e.g. Regular vaccinations and deworming and health-checks for older patients; as well as keeping your pets “pest-free” i.e. Free of ticks, fleas and worms – which all in their own right can cause severe disease/debilitation in your pet.
Every year thousands of neglected, unwanted and homeless animals are put to sleep – make sure you are not also responsible for the death of innocent animals by having your pet sterilised.
- Regular exercise is important for your animal’s welfare.
- Trained pets are much more comfortable companions.
- Regularly washing and combing your pet’s hair/coat/feathers will leave you and your pet feeling happy to associate with each other.
- Never leave your animals to fend for themselves if you should be away from home for long periods.
- Take your pet to the vet regularly for routine health checks.
- Prevent cruelty to animals!!!