Getting a pet is an exciting time, but there are also lots of challenges, and things that could be worrying if you’ve not done your research in advance. Today we’re taking a look at some of the things you’ll need to know when you have a pet so you’ll feel prepared and confident.
Where’s the Vet?
It’s important to know where your vet is when you’re caring for a pet. You don’t want to be searching “emergency vet near me” during the actual emergency – you need to be focused on your pet’s needs.
Registering for a vet as soon as you get your pet (or finding a new one when you move to a new area) means you have an existing relationship to call on when you’re worried, that you know where to go when disaster strikes and perhaps most crucially, you have experience getting your pet there under less stressed circumstances. Whether it’s carrying the cat up the road in a carrier, getting your dog into the car, or even decanting a fish into a transport vessel, experience with the logistics of a pet visit makes doing it under pressure easier.
What Do They Eat?
While you might expect exotic pets to have very specific food needs that you need to get right for them to be healthy, the same can be true of more mainstream pets. Even cats and dogs need different foods at different times in their lives, can have intolerances and allergies, or might need dietary changes to help health conditions.
Start with their age – kittens and puppies need specific food formulations to support their growth. These should be clearly marked in the supermarket, but make sure you know how old your pet is, and when it moves from the juvenile to adult stage of life. This can vary based on the breed, so do double check or get your vet’s advice if you’re not sure.
Most pets require some form of exercise to support their physical and mental health – an understimulated pet can have weight problems and even suffer from anxiety and depression.
Find out what sort of exercise and how much your pet might need. For habitat bound pets, feeding live food can help to simulate the physical and mental exertion of hunting in the wild. Other pets require a more direct hand – dogs need to be walked and it can’t be too much or too little. Too long a walk can be harmful, especially to a growing dog, but getting outside provides opportunities for play, exploration and socialisation that are vital to its wellbeing.
Cats get a lot of exercise and stimulation exploring outdoors, but if you have an indoor cat you’ll need to work harder to fill its needs. Keep a larger stock of cat toys and rotate the ones you use to provide variety, and find room for a climbing tree. Find what engages your cat and make time to play with them every day to ensure they’re getting the stimulation and exercise they need to support their health and happiness.