Bondi Vet Dr Chris Brown has made a wish this Christmas for people to be responsible pet owners, whether they currently have a pet or are considering their first companion animal this festive period.
Experts advise that while pet ownership is extremely rewarding, it is a long term commitment that should not be taken lightly. Tens of thousands of unwanted pets are surrendered to animal shelters each year, with many abandoned not long after Christmas when some pets lose their initial novelty and appeal. Despite the best efforts of organisations like PetRescue, many unwanted pets are humanely put down if new homes cannot be found.
According to veterinarian Dr Chris Brown, “There’s nothing better than a pet’s love and affection, but don’t forget they will want the same in return. Pet owners have a responsibility to look after their pet for the rest of its life, which means there are a number of considerations before they are bought or given as a present.”
Whether it’s a cuddly pug or a fluffy Persian you’ve got in mind, there are some important factors to consider before giving a pet this Christmas. The WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition has put together advice on building long and happy relationships with your pet.
Checklist for a Long and Happy Relationship with your Pet:
Checklist for a Long and Happy Relationship with your Pet:
- Pet selection
ð Selecting the right pet for your living situation, environment, future plans, activity level, lifestyle, budget and available time is critically important.
ð Becoming educated about the needs, life spans and temperaments of various species and breeds will help you make an informed choice.
ð It is important to appreciate the nutritional, behavioural and health needs of any pet species to ensure that their welfare is not compromised.
ð It is also important to spend time with a potential pet before deciding to welcome it into the family.
ð Providing adequate socialisation, particularly to puppies and kittens, is critical to ensuring a pet’s long-term well-being.
ð Pets who are inadequately socialised cannot relax and enjoy life, and are frequently stressed by even minor events.
ð Poorly socialised dogs and cats are less likely to make rewarding pets.
ð In addition to socialisation, training is particularly important for dogs. If a dog is expected to behave in a certain way, such as relieving themselves outside, then you have to teach them how to successfully meet those expectations.
ð Obedience classes and puppy classes are widely available, as are instructional books and other resources.
ð In addition to teaching basic obedience, group classes offer excellent opportunities for puppy socialisation.
ð Training is a great means of building the bond between you and your pet.
ð Providing a healthy, nutritious, high-quality diet is important to ensuring a long and healthy life for your pet.
ð Diets that are suitable for humans rarely provide the nutritional balance that dogs and cats require, so it is best to avoid giving them ‘people food’.
ð Some common ingredients in human food can be toxic to cats and dogs, including chocolate, grapes, raisins and onions.
ð One way to ensure that all essential nutrient requirements are met is to feed pets a complete and balanced manufactured diet. In most cases, these diets are based on decades of scientific research and expertise, and are carefully designed to provide the right amount of nutrients according to a pet’s life-stage or lifestyle.
- Veterinary care
ð Just like people, pets need regular medical and dental care.
ð Vaccinations are especially important for puppies and kittens, but are needed at regular intervals for pets of all ages.
ð Regular check-ups and preventative care for problems like heartworms and fleas also help to ensure a pet’s health and well-being.
ð Periodontal disease is one of the most common diseases in dogs, and can result in pain, tooth loss and chronic infections.
ð Dental care not only helps to prevent periodontal disease, it may also be beneficial to a pet’s general health.
For those prepared to make the commitment, Mars Petcare has created a useful online Find a Dog or Cat tool atwww.petpositives.com.au. The tool takes into consideration house or unit size, location, access to a garden, and free time to look after the pet to identify breeds of cat or dog that might be suitable. But, just like people, animals are individuals with unique personalities and temperaments. Therefore, simply choosing a breed with an affable reputation (e.g. a golden retriever) does not guarantee a good match for a particular family or living situation. Speaking to a reputable breeders or visiting a pet adoption centre are good ways to find the perfect pets to suit a variety of lifestyles.
Research by WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition suggests that pets offer a range of physical and emotional benefits to their owners from childhood well into old age.1 Australian researchers are also at the forefront of studies into pets increasing exercise levels. A study by the University of Western Australia found that dog owners increase their recreational walking by 31 minutes per week and are more likely to meet the recommended levels of exercise than non-dog owners.2 In a separate study, dog owners were five times more likely to get to know people in their neighborhood compared with other pet owners.3
Dr Sandra McCune, Scientific Leader on Human-Animal Interaction at the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition, said:“This special relationship benefits both humans and pets and goes beyond mere companionship. People see their pets as important members of their families. It is our responsibility to take care of them and provide them with loving, safe and happy homes, good healthcare and nutrition, and proper training and socialisation.”
The WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition, owned by Mars, has been a leading scientific authority on pet nutrition and wellbeing for fifty years. In 2014 alone, WALTHAM published 46 peer reviewed scientific papers.
More information and interview requests contact:
Ben Seal Katherine Kalas
Palin Communications Palin Communications
0402 386 392 0404 496 260
- Friedmann E, Barker SB, Allen KM. Physiological correlates of health benefits from pets. In: McCardle P, McCune S, Griffin JA, Maholmes V, eds. How Animals Affect Us: Examining the Influence of Human-Animal Interaction of Child Development and Human Health. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association; 2011:163-82.
- Cutt, HE, Knuiman, MW, Giles-Corti, B, 2008, ‘Does getting a dog increase recreational walking?’, International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, vol. 5. pp. 17-27.
- Wood L, Martin K, Christian H, Nathan A, Lauritsen C, Houghton S, et al. (2015) The Pet Factor - Companion Animals as a Conduit for Getting to Know People, Friendship Formation and Social Support. PLoS ONE 10(4): e0122085. doi:10.1371/ journal.pone.0122085
Notes to Editors:
Mars Petcare Australia
Mars Petcare is the world’s leading pet food and veterinary care business that strives to make A Better World for Pets® every day. Mars Petcare believes that pets make our lives better and that pet ownership brings joy and benefits which should be accessible to everyone. Mars Petcare has a number of leading brands including PEDIGREE®, WHISKAS®, DINE®, ADVANCE®, OPTIMUM®, SCHMACKOS® ROYAL CANIN®, EUKANUBA® IAMS®. Key specialty brands include the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition®, a leading scientific authority on pet nutrition and wellbeing. Mars Petcare has more than 37,000 Associates worldwide.
The Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition
The Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition is a leading scientific authority in pet nutrition and wellbeing and has been advancing the frontiers of scientific research into the nutrition and health of pets for over 50 years. Located in Leicestershire, England, the renowned state-of-the-art science institute focuses on the nutritional and behavioural needs of pets and their benefits to humans, enabling the development of innovative products which meet these needs in a practical way. In collaboration with the world’s foremost scientific institutes, WALTHAM has pioneered many important breakthroughs in pet understanding and nutrition and leverages this knowledge through Mars Petcare brands to make a better world for pets.