Download February 2014 - Mounts Bay Veterinary Centre

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Doing the best for
our pets.
Perhaps it’s a generalisation but the
British tend to think of themselves as a
nation of animal lovers. It may come
as a surprise to learn then, that the
country averaging the highest number
of pet-owning households is France at
49%. However, here in Cornwall, well
over 50% of households have a cat or
a dog so perhaps it is the Cornish who
deserve a reputation as a nation of
animal lovers!
Given the generally high levels of pet
ownership in the UK, animal charities
have been working to raise awareness
of animal welfare standards, especially
among children. When asked about
animal welfare, most of us
immediately think of the need to
protect animals from harm, as well as
making sure they have adequate food
and shelter. The Animal Welfare Act
of 2006 identifies FIVE distinct needs.
In summary these are: the provision of
a suitable diet, access to an
appropriate environment, the
opportunity to exhibit normal
behaviour, regular companionship
(with humans and/or other animals)
and lastly, protection from pain,
suffering, injury and disease.
As animal charities are keen to
emphasise, the five needs have much
to do with the importance of
facilitating our pet’s development, not
just survival.
In children’s education, much of the
focus is on understanding the
importance of exercise and nutrition
for themselves and pets. Hopefully
this generation will naturally think
more broadly about meeting their
pet’s need to grow and mature.
For example, puppy socialisation
is vital if a young dog is to enjoy
full companionship with other
dogs in the future. Similarly,
rabbits should ideally be kept in
pairs or small groups since they
live in large family groups in the
wild. Housing for smaller pets,
such as guinea pigs, hamsters or
rabbits, should enable them to
experience a more natural and
stimulating environment,
encouraging them to replicate
natural behaviours like exploring,
hiding, digging or running.
Unfortunately, many problems
experienced by exotic pets are
often due to the difficulties
owners have in providing the right
environment or diet. If you’re
thinking of getting any sort of new
pet, (and especially an exotic,) our
advice is to do your homework
thoroughly beforehand and get
veterinary advice first.
Other preventative measures
might include: vaccination against
disease, dental
protection/cleaning, and the
provision of games and toys to
prevent boredom or stress
becoming a problem. A great tool
for checking out your pet’s quality
of life and seeing if you could
make improvements is the PDSA
Big Pet Check online. And do
contact the Mounts Bay Vets team
for advice.