As a passionate advocate for my patients who cannot talk, on their behalf I would like to make a few comments about being a responsible pet owner. Please, please, please research the breed or type of pet you are going to purchase/adopt/obtain. Every animal deserves a loving forever home, so many pets end up in animal shelters, homeless or euthanased because people simply did not take the time to find out about pet they are going to adopt. If you are adopting a kitten, remember, they can live upwards of twenty years, so this is no short term commitment! Even adorable bunny rabbits can live for 10 years or longer depending on the size and breed.
Be aware of who you are purchasing your pet from. Beware of pet shops and puppy mills – the conditions that these breeding dogs are kept in are appalling. They generally live in small cages, some never see sunlight or get to run around in the grass. Support reputable breeders that are genuinely trying to do the best for the breed. Contact your state’s breed society if you are set on a particular breed. Or even better contact your local RSPCA or animal shelter and give a pet a forever home. There are so many puppies, kittens, dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, horses etc all looking for their forever homes after getting off to a rough start.
Desex, desex, desex! Desexing/neutering/castrating/speying – whatever term you choose to use, it is ESSENTIAL! We already have so many unwanted pets looking for homes, please do not add to the problem. In addition to the unwanted offspring issue, desexing can prevent many health problems as your beloved pet gets older. Did you know that nearly 80% of female rabbits will develop uterine cancer if they are not desexed? Female ferrets can develop a fatal anaemia and female dogs and cats can develop life threatening uterine infections. Entire male dogs and cats are more likely to roam, search for female companions on heat and as a consequence often get hit and killed by cars. Male dogs can develop testicular infections, cancer or torsions (that’s twisting testicles – incredibly painful) and hernias around their anus. But then I hear some clients say – but it’s not fair on the dog, he wants to get to use his anatomy, I couldn’t imagine not being able to... well, then I say “he’s a DOG!” If you desex them at 6 months, it’s generally prior to sexual maturity, he won’t know what his missing and what is really cruel, is having an entire male dog behind excellent fences and him being eternally frustrated particularly if there is a female dog on heat anywhere within a few blocks of your house. Without the testicles, there won’t be the drive.
If you are looking at purchasing a new pet and want more information contact your local veterinary hospital or you can visit the RSPCA website which has a number of articles about responsible pet ownership.