Saturday, May 18, 2024

ANIMALS 101 – YOU NEED TO MAKE TIME TO LEARN ABOUT YOUR PETS AND THEIR NEEDS!

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EDUCATION IS KEY TO HELPING ANIMALS AND THEIR OWNERS AND FOR CHANGING ANIMAL WELFARE IN THE WORLD!

Sadly, most people don’t spend nearly enough time educating themselves on how to improve their pets’ lives or how to help other animals or animal welfare organizations.  Below you can find a summary of many of the animal topics in this ANIMALS 101 series from almost 24 months. This article is part four of the summary series.  Here is part one, part two and part three.

Since many are still enjoying the holidays, here is a reminder on how to prioritize SAFETY for your pets during the holidays. Many people are already on holiday and others are getting ready.  Whether you are staying home or going away, remember that the busy holidays and travelling can be stressful and cause anxiety for your pets and their safety is your responsibility.

MICROCHIP YOU PETS – Before you do anything, I suggest you make sure your pets are microchipped, the microchip is registered on multiple databases and is in working order. 

ESCAPE PROOF YOUR YARD – If you are away and you are leaving your pets behind with a responsible pet sitter, you still need to make sure your yard is extra secure.  There are constantly pets in the streets and this holds many dangers in a cruel world. We understand that accidents happen and some animals are really escape artists, but one of a few reasons why animals get out is because IT IS EASY! You get climbers, runners, jumpers, diggers, chewers, some learn to open gates or some pets use a combination of the above. How to escape-proof your yard.

TRAVEL WITH PETS – Travelling with your animal family members can create wonderful memories, but it’s not always easy. Make sure you’re well-prepared before you hit the road. There are many things to consider before you take your pet on a road trip, including the temperament, size & safety of your pet. Here are some tips for travelling with pets.

Animals
Image by The Paw Company

EASTER is around the corner and with Easter comes family gatherings, chocolate, Easter egg hunts and gifts. Please don’t use this occasion to give your children chicks and rabbits just because they asked for them and think that they look “cute.” Pet ownership is a huge commitment and responsibility and it’s not something that should be done on impulse. In addition, Easter, like every holiday, involves potential hazards for your pets, that every pet parent should be aware of, so make sure your pets avoid Easter goodies and decorations to avoid unexpected heartaches. Read more on this topic here.

YOUR PETS CAN BE HEALTHIER AND HAPPIER IN 2023! HERE ARE OUR PAWSOME PET NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS……IF YOU MISSED IT!

A new year brings new goals, renewed hope and 365 days of opportunity for you and your pet to bond, develop healthier habits and discover new ways to live a full life. An important first step is to avoid becoming overwhelmed thinking you need to make big changes overnight. The important thing is to make a plan and move steadily forward.

Part one, part two and part three.

animals
Image by The Paw Company

Included in your pet new years resolutions should be regular HEALTH CHECKS. Our pets might get sick or injured and need veterinary care, but we can also add many tools to our toolbox, like health checks at home, to help prevent conditions from occurring in the first place or manage them better to allow our pets to live long and happy lives. Being informed and understanding what illnesses and conditions our pets might face is key to longevity. It is important to do regular health checks on your pets by inspecting their body from head to toe every week and making notes. 

Between vet visits, you can keep a close eye on your pet’s health by conducting an at-home physical exam (demo video). Physical “inspection” touch with some positive re-enforcement on a regular basis can also help make vet visits more comfortable.

HEALTH CHECK-LIST

  • Behaviour
  • Body condition
  • Skin & coat
  • Eyes & ears
  • Nails & paws
  • Nose & mouth
  • Stool check
  • Vitals (heart rate, breathing, body temperature etc.)
  • Weigh your pet and review their diet

ARE YOU HELPING YOUR PET COPE DURING STORMY WEATHER?

There is always an increase in lost and injured pets after stormy weather or fireworks. In many cases, it is the same animals that are out in the streets and it is PREVENTABLE! Creating an environment that is free from fear and distress is essential for their well-being. Not only is it important to provide them with the necessary physical comforts and to ensure that their mental health is taken into consideration, it is your moral duty.

Noise phobia is a reality and many cats, dogs and other animals can suffer from it.  The good news is that you can do something about it if you care enough for those animals. I understand that we can’t control the weather, but you can do a lot to help them cope better with weather or other noise phobias. Read more here.

Animals
Image by Dr. Karen Becker

DO YOU KNOW WHAT IS NATURAL DOG BEHAVIOUR?

Dogs are social animals and have a wide range of natural behaviours. These behaviours are instinctive and are used to communicate with other dogs and humans. Common natural behaviours in dogs include barking, digging, chasing and chewing. Dogs also display behaviours such as jumping, licking, marking and play-bowing. These behaviours are all natural and help dogs to interact with their environment and with other animals. It is a way to communicate with those who are willing to listen!

What may look like naughty behaviour to you is often just your pet behaving as their species do. There can also be breed-specific traits which are not their fault, like Terriers that dig and will likely always dig!Do you want to better understand your dog and improve your relationship?  Then learn about their behaviour.  When you know what is natural behaviour you can easily know which “naughty” behaviour to address. One of the five freedoms of animal welfare includes the freedom to express natural behaviours! Read more about some natural behaviours here.

Aggressive behaviour is probably the most common behavioural problem in dogs seen by behaviour professionals and the most dangerous one seen in companion dogs.  Many behaviours that people perceive as aggressive are actually normal forms of communication. Behaviour is a common reasons why people surrender animals, especially dogs to shelters and aggression is one of them. The lack of understanding of basic and normal animal behaviour remains part of the problem! Read more about dog bite prevention.

DID YOU PICK THE RIGHT ANIMAL FOR YOUR FAMILY WHEN YOU LOOK AT ENERGY LEVELS?

Dogs, just like people have unique personalities and energy levels (mentally & physically) and it can affect the way your dog responds to you. Dogs that have a lot more energy than their humans often don’t get enough exercise. This is why it’s very important to know your energy level, understand how to determine the dog/pet’s energy level and then choose the right fit for your family taken into account your lifestyle routines too.

Dogtime shares how high-energy dogs are those who are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as a retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. Low-energy dogs on the other hand are the canine equivalent of a human couch potato, content to doze the day away.

Energy levels matter because if you can’t meet that animals’ needs, then it will cause frustration for you and in return the animal pays a price too. Read more about energy levels here.

CAN YOU READ YOUR DOG’S BODY LANGUAGE FROM HEAD TO TAIL?

Most animals use body language as well as sound and smell to communicate with one another.  Body language is the movements of animals’ including facial expressions, eye behaviour, posture, and the movement of their body parts and is inherent in all creatures including humans. When we understand body language, we can better understand our pets and meet their needs which will deepen our relationship. Dog bites and fights can also be prevented by better understanding and predicting behaviour.

Many people think that it is easy to ‘read’ their dog, but there are so many subtle signs that are missed. Decoding your pet or another pet’s body language is not as straightforward as looking at a tail wag or the ears. For one, many of these gestures happen at once and context is important too. On top of that, a breeds’ physical appearance can make it even more difficult. Read more about body language here.

Your pets are your responsibility. You need to know how to meet their needs and give them the best possible life. If you can no longer care for them, please surrender them to the SPCA or a reputable animal welfare organization. If you can’t afford to properly care for them or have the time to meet their needs, then don’t get them.

Next week we will share another summary of our recent posts focussed on animal welfare issues.

WHEN YOU KNOW BETTER, DO BETTER!