GENERAL PET CARE
Your pet guide ...
Now that you've decided to add a new family member ... how do you prepare?
There are some basic things you will need in ensuring your turtle, dog, bird, cat etc. has a good life with you. Let this be a general guide for common domestic species.
Good pet ownership requires good pet care and that means understanding their needs, anticipating them and providing for them.
An area in the home must be identified as a designated feeding area which the animal should always have access to. Here is where you work on building the habit of timed feedings for your pet. There should be access to fresh water (refilled as often as needed) and a bowl for feeding the correct portion.
If your pet has full access to the house or yard such as a cat or dog, then this can be done in a cool dry area preferably out of the way of your general activity such as a laundry room. If your pet is caged such as a rabbit, bird or turtle etc. then there should be a dry cool area inside the cage. The pet should be able to access it easily and so should you to facilitate regular cleaning of the bowls.
The exact diet of your pet will be determined by the species, age, weight, level of activity and reproductive stage of your pet. The ratios of nutrients required, the amount and the frequency of feeding should be considered. Specifications for diets of Kittens and Puppies can be found on the linked pages.
Good diet is the foundation of a healthy lifestyle.
For free roaming pets who can access the yard and or house, an area should be designated for resting, separate from an area for relieving the body. This minimizes the potential for illness as contamination is reduced. "Don't poop where you scoot." Any waste should be quickly removed.
The size of the area to which your pet has access to, should be chosen with the size of the pet in mind. Will your pet grow, climb, jump etc.? The goal is to be able to allow the animal enough space to express its natural behaviours. Also to be considered is what they are exposed to in these areas (electrical cords, harmful liquids, rat traps, breakable items to name a few). The area should be safe, so remove any harmful items from the area or place them out of reach.
For caged pets, the same distinction between areas for rest and relief must be made and frequent cleanings done to maintain good hygiene. This will also include removing old food and refilling water. The same consideration should be given to the behaviours of the pet. Will their space be able to accommodate that? This is particularly important when it comes to exotic pets such as birds, turtles and rabbits for example, for which the section on Exotics will be useful (coming soon).
Some pet households have one pet, some have more. In the best case scenario, your pet should have interactions with its own kind whether inside or outside of the home.
This will help to prevent boredom that otherwise could lead to destructive behaviours to self and the environment. It also allows for the healthy development of social skills. In this way, the pet will be familiar with appropriate interactions with humans and other animals should they ever occur. The onus is on the owner to facilitate effective training, the choice and extent of which depends on your purpose for owning the pet (eg. obedience training, litter training, house training, aggression training).
Before acquiring a pet, you should understand that you will require professional assistance with maintaining your animal's health in the form of a veterinarian. This person has been specially trained to identify problems with your animal and how to address them. The right veterinarian should not simply be the cheapest or closest option, but should be someone you trust with your pet's best interest at heart.
They will guide you as to the frequency of your visits determined by the stage of life of your pet, purpose and any presenting concerns. Usually an annual visit is suggested, if there are no complaints.
It is now up to you as the owner to differentiate between normal and abnormal so that you can act promptly to protect your best pal.
Now you're ready to bring your pet home !
These guidelines were created with the 5 Rules of Animal Welfare in mind, for the safety and wellbeing of all animals. I hope this section gave you a quick rundown of what to pay attention to and that your new family member will be pleased.