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Pet Care basics: What you need to know
Dogs are the most popular pets in T&T and the lives they lead vary from a pampered member of the family to a neglected burglar-alarm that happens to need a bit of food now and then. Most cruelty to dogs is not deliberate but stems from a lack of recognition of their needs.
1. Your dog needs at least one good meal per day. The amount given should be suitable for the size of the dog and take into account its age and activity level. The meal can consist of dog-chow, cooked or tinned food or a mixture.
2. There must be a water bowl /bucket available to the dog at all times. Put clean water in the container every day and secure the container in a square of bricks, if necessary, to ensure that it cannot be tipped over. When the weather is particularly hot, increase the size of the container so that it is never without water.
3. If the dog lives mainly or totally outside your house, then ensure there is shelter for it. This can be a large, airy dog-kennel or just space in the garage/carport where there is room for the dog to lie down and a mat for it to lie on.
If you use a kennel, the dog should not be locked inside except for brief periods, such as when you have workmen or visitors, or when there is thunder or fireworks are being let off. The same applies to chaining the dog.
It should not be chained for long periods of time and never chained where it will be in the sun at any time. If your property is properly fenced and gated, it is not necessary to chain or tie your dog constantly. It will be a better watchdog if it can run around and protect all your property.
4. Try not to leave your dog alone for hours on end. It is a pack animal and needs companionship. If you need to be away from home for much of each day, consider getting two dogs as companions for each other. Spend some time with your dog/dogs at the end of the day . Take a walk together as often as possible—it will be good for you all.
5. Other pets. If you prefer cats, there are some things you need to know about looking after them. Cats need to have a water bowl on hand all the times and food of the right kind and in the right amount, every day.
Cats are nibblers, so it is useful to leave some chow out for them at all times.
You may buy a special bed for them but it is not necessary. They will be quite satisfied with your bed, the sofa, the top of the wardrobe, wherever.
6. Both cats and dogs need to be vaccinated against specific diseases when young and to receive booster shots annually , or on the advice of a veterinarian.
7. The pets should be spayed or neutered at a young age, both to prevent unwanted litters and to reduce the incidence of certain cancers.
8. If you prefer parrots, budgerigars, hamsters, guinea pigs etc. do some research before you buy your pet. Get to know what living conditions suit it best and learn what food it needs and when.
Remember, your pet is a living being that can be happy, sad, in pain, afraid or lonely. It all depends on you.
(Courtesy The Animal Welfare Network)
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