Responsible Ownership

RESPONSIBLE DOG OWNERSHIP

Your dog or cat can’t tell you how he or she feels so it is up to you, as a responsible owner, to try to understand the needs of your pet.

Sadly many animals suffer in silence and never get the care they need to live fit and healthy lives.

There are many things that a responsible owner can do to ensure that their pet gets the care and attention which it needs everyday.

Being a responsible dog owner is not just about feeding your dog properly and taking it to the vet if it’s sick or injured. It’s also about making sure it wears a collar and ID tag, is microchipped – with your contact details kept up to date – and is vaccinated annually. Here we take a look the various aspects of responsible dog ownership.

Put yourself in your pet’s shoes…

Most of the behavioural and veterinary problems we encounter at Battersea are due to owners not looking after their pets properly.

When it comes to caring for an animal a good rule of thumb is to imagine how you would feel if you were your pet. For instance, would you like breakfast added to last night’s stale supper or your bed being in the noisiest room in the house?

The essentials are simple. To feel secure pets need a daily routine and be loved.

Daily routine

Dogs need to be exercised regularly, usually twice a day, in all weathers. You should carry poo bags with you to clean up after your dog.

Both tinned and dried pet food can provide a balanced, nutritious diet. Remember to provide extra water with dried food. Water must always be clean and fresh. Feeding animals human food is not recommended. Chocolate is poisonous to dogs, for example, and can be fatal in large quantities.

Your pet’s bed should be in a quiet, draught-free place out of direct sunlight. Vacuuming or laundering the bedding will help keep smells and fleas at bay.

Good behaviour

Both you and your dog will be happier if he is socialised with people and other animals, and is easy to control. Dog training classes allow your dog to meet others in a controlled environment, and enable you to learn correct handling techniques. This will strengthen the bond between you.

Socialising from an early age will help prevent behavioural problems. Regular walks provide your dog with a change of scene and the chance to meet other dogs. Remember, your dog needs a social life, too.

Don’t encourage your dog to chase cats or other small animals.Unless your pet arrived with a record of prior vaccinations it will have received at least one vaccination while at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home and should also be up to date on its worm treatment. Flea and worm treatments should be repeated regularly to ensure parasites are controlled and the animal’s health is maintained.

Regular grooming keeps coats clean and healthy and is essential for long-haired pets.

Neutering not only prevents unwanted litters but can also prevent tumours and other health problems. In male dogs it can also help curb straying or aggression. Battersea Dogs & Cats Home neuters a high percentage of adult dogs before they go to new homes.

Identification and loss prevention

Most owners assume their pet will never go missing. The number of strays reported to us daily – proves they are mistaken.

Identification is important for dogs and it is a legal requirement that they are microchipped – this registration is for life. Microchipping is a widely recognised method of permanent identification. Your vet can provide this service or any dog homed from our centre is already microchipped which will be transferred into the new owners name.

In urban areas keep your dog on a lead at all times as he could easily be startled by a noise and run off and get hurt or killed by a vehicle. Before letting him off in a safe area for the first time, be confident he will come back when you want him to.

Do not let your dog out on his own as he will classed as a stray and could be picked up. Never leave your pet tied up outside a shop alone as he may be taken for a lost dog or stolen.

Always ensure your dog’s vaccinations are up to date before allowing him outside.

Going away

When planning a trip be sure to make proper arrangements for your pets. You should only entrust your animal to friends or neighbours if you are confident they will take care of them properly. If you dog hasn’t already met his carer, take time to introduce them to each other before you go away. Your friend could join you and your dog on a couple of walks, for instance.

Explain the animal’s daily routine and leave contact numbers for yourself and your vet in case of emergencies. Put a new identity disc on your pet’s collar with the contact details of his temporary carer and, if your pet is microchipped, let the company who manages the database know the temporary carer’s contact details.

If you are travelling with your dog, contact your microchip provider and inform them where you will be staying. If your dog goes missing, you’ll have peace of mind of knowing that if he’s found the microchip company will be able to contact you.

If you are considering boarding kennels, visit the facility beforehand to check whether it is suitable. Ask lots of questions, like how many daily walks do the dogs get. Word of mouth is the best recommendation and you’ll need to book up well in advance, especially at peak holiday times, as the best kennels are always fully booked.

Children

Most dogs happily co-exist with children if they have lived with them from an early age. It’s important children are taught to respect animals and are not allowed to treat them as toys.

Pets need their own space, so children should not disturb him when he is sleeping or eating. Never leave a dog alone with children. Always supervise interaction to ensure children do not tease or overexcite a pet.

Being a responsible pet owner is taking care of anything related to cat safety. It is not only about feeding your cat every day and taking it to the vet if it is sick or injured, it is also about making sure it wears a collar and ID tag, is microchipped (and your contact details are kept up to date) and properly vaccinated annually. Here we delve into the various aspects of responsible cat ownership.

RESPONSIBLE CAT OWNERSHIP 

Put yourself in your pet’s shoes…

Need guidance on your cat safety responsibilities? A good rule of thumb is to imagine how you would feel if you were your pet. For instance, how would you like breakfast added to last night’s stale supper or your bed being in the noisiest room in the house?

Most of the behavioural and veterinary problems we encounter at Battersea are due to owners not looking after their pets properly. In this section we give you some guidelines. But the basic needs are simple: to feel secure pets need to have a daily routine and be loved.

Daily routine

If your cat needs a litter tray, put it somewhere secluded, away from her food. Cats will not use dirty litter trays and may resort to using your pot plants instead so replace litter regularly and disinfect trays every so often. Both tinned and dried pet food provides a balanced, nutritious diet but remember to provide extra water with dried food. Water must always be clean and fresh. Human food is not recommended.

Your pet’s bed should be in a quiet, draught-free place out of direct sunlight. Vacuuming or laundering the bedding will keep smells, and fleas, at bay.

Good behaviour

Most cats need access to a garden but indoor cats, who do not have the mental stimulation provided by the outside world, can become bored and stressed. This can lead to serious behavioural problems and destructiveness. Cat activity toys can help your cat amuse herself when you are absent. Both indoor and outdoor cats enjoy playtime so interact with your cat through play, and provide a scratching post so she can exercise her claws without shredding your sofa. Cats need socialising too; try to get them used to daily sights, noises and situations from an early age.

Health

Don’t wait until your pet becomes ill before registering with a vet. Your pet will need annual vaccinations which is also a good opportunity for a complete health check. Your vet will advise on the most effective worming and anti-flea treatments, as your pet’s health will suffer if parasites are not controlled. Regular grooming keeps coats clean and healthy, and is essential if you have a long-haired pet.

Neutering not only prevents unwanted litters but can also prevent tumours and other health problems. If you have a male cat, it can also help to curb straying and aggression. Cats are prolific breeders. In five years, a female cat can be responsible for 20,000 offspring. The MSPCA neuters all cats before they go to new homes.

Identification & loss prevention

Most owners assume that their pet will never go missing but as the number of strays we receive every day proves, they are mistaken. Make sure your cat’s disc lists your name, the first line of your address and contact number/s. Sadly only 10% of the stray cats we receive are claimed by their owners. Cats should wear quick release collars, which pull apart if the cat gets stuck and will allow them to escape should they become entangled whilst climbing.

Microchipping is a widely recognised method of permanent identification. Your vet can provide this service

Cats should not be shut out at night. Most road traffic accidents involving cats occur after dark and she may not want to go outside after she has spent the evening indoors, especially during cold weather. Cats are also often criticised for hunting and killing birds, which are at their most vulnerable at dawn and dusk when they are feeding. You may choose to get your cat used to staying in at night and provide her with a litter tray. To become familiar and confident in her new surroundings, a newly acquired cat should be kept inside for at least four weeks. Do not feed her before letting her out for the first time but feed her immediately when she returns. You can train her to respond to a signal when food is ready, for example by whistling or rattling her biscuits. Kittens should not be let out until they are at least six months old and have had all their vaccinations and the first few outings should always be supervised.

Going away

When planning a trip away, ensure you make proper arrangements for your pets. You should only consider friends or neighbours if they can be trusted to care for your pet properly. If necessary, take time to introduce your cat to her carer before you go away. Explain her daily routine and leave contact numbers for yourself and your vet in case of emergencies. Put a new identity disc on your pet’s collar with the contact details of her temporary carer and if your pet is microchipped let your microchip provider know.

If you are considering a cattery please consider bringing your cat back to the MSPCA boarding kennels. Word of mouth is the best recommendation. You will need to book up well in advance, especially at peak holiday times, as the best catteries are always fully booked.

If you are travelling with your cat, contact your microchip provider and inform them where you will be staying. If your cat was to go missing, you will have peace of mind that if she is found the microchip company will be able to contact you.

When transporting a cat always ensure she is in a cat carrier or locked basket and not a cardboard box which she can easily break out of, with food, water and toilet facilities, especially if on a long journey. Keep her inside the cat carrier until you have arrived at your final destination or are in a safe and secure area. Never let her out whilst you are in a car as she could cause an accident. It is advisable to keep your cat inside if on holiday for a short period of time as cats are not used to travelling and could easily get frightened or run away.

Pet passports

Pets can be issued with a ‘passport’ under the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS), which means it won’t have to go through quarantine. There are several important steps to the application process, including getting vaccinations, microchipping and obtaining an official PETS certificate from your vet, so make sure you get everything organised well in advance.

A big commitment

Giving a home to a rescue animal is one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have. However, it is important you feel ready for, and understand, the commitment of taking on another life, one which will be totally dependent on you.