Caring for a pet takes a lot of time and work – a commitment that certainly should not be taken lightly. Care requirements vary between different animal types and breeds. Before you welcome a new pet into your home, it is essential that you do thorough research to make sure you are prepared to provide them with the level of care needed to suit their individual needs.
Ensuring your new pet is microchipped and that your contact details are always kept up to date, is crucial. This will give you the best chance of being reunited with your pet if they ever go missing. For more information about microchipping, visit Central Animal Records.
It is also important that your dog or puppy wears a collar with identification tags attached, including their council registration tag and a tag with your contact phone number in case your pooch gets lost.
With cats, choose a collar that contains elastic and fasten it so you can fit two fingers comfortably between the neck and the collar. A collar with a bell is preferable to help prevent your cat from catching wildlife.
This page contains general information. For information and advice specific to your pet, please consult your vet.
Dogs and puppies
Food and nutrition
To live a happy and healthy life, dogs need a well-balanced diet with some variation here and there. Your dog’s diet should include:
- Protein to build the body
- Fats for skin and coat health
- Carbohydrates for energy
- Roughage for bowel function
The easiest way to provide this for your dog is by feeding them a mixture of raw, cooked or canned meat and dry food. The meat provides them with protein and fats, and the dry food should provide vitamins, minerals and roughage. A premium dry food is best for this purpose.
Dogs cannot eat a lot of the everyday foods that humans eat, such as chocolate, onion, mushrooms, and alcohol, among many others.
Dogs love bones, and fortunately bones are great for their health. Bones clean dogs’ teeth, massage their gums and keep them stimulated and happy for hours. Talk to your vet about which bones are best for your dog, and how often you should circulate bones. Remember to give your dog raw bones only, as cooked bones can splinter and cause harm to your dog.
Dogs need daily exercise. They are likely to get bored with the same old walk every day, so try to vary your route, or mix it up with a regular off-lead run in a secure area or a swim at a dog-friendly beach. Only let your dog off lead in and enclosed area or if you are confident that you can recall them. Be a responsible pet owner and never walk your dog off-lead on a street or road.
As well as playtime and exercise, dogs love nothing more than to just spend time you and your family. Four hours of contact a day is the bare minimum, which can include going on a walk, picking the kids up from school, or just letting them hang around while you do the housework. If you include your dog in your daily life, they will be happier and healthier.
Having your dog or puppy desexed is a crucial aspect of responsible pet ownership. Desexing can have many positive benefits on your pet’s health and behaviour. Not only can it help to improve their temperament, but it can also reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer. Having your pet desexed also means he or she won’t be contributing to the high number of unwanted companion animals. Click here to read more about the benefits of desexing and get the facts about some common desexing myths.
It is recommended that all dogs are vaccinated against Canine Infectious Hepatitis, Parvovirus and Canine Distemper. These viruses are potentially fatal, so should be taken very seriously. Dogs and puppies adopted from The Lost Dogs’ Home all come vaccinated against these viruses. Ask your vet if any other vaccinations are recommended for your dog.
It is possible for puppy roundworms to infect humans, so make sure your worm your puppy regularly in their first year of life. Another way to stop infection is to be careful with personal hygiene after playing with your puppy. Other worms can infect your dog, like tapeworms, whipworms and hookworms, so make sure you are up to speed with your vet about when to worm your dog. Heartworm is a more serious concern as it can cause complications and lead to fatalities. Talk to your vet about protecting your dog from heartworm.
Fleas are a common dog parasite and cause severe itching and skin inflammation. If one of your pets has fleas, you will need to treat all other animals in the house as well as the infected animal. Humans cannot be infected with fleas. Prevention is better than cure, so try a regular flea treatment. Ask your vet for the best flea treatment for your dog.
Even if your dog has short hair, you will still need to buy a grooming brush and some dog shampoo and have regular grooming sessions. Start a grooming routine as soon as possible so your dog gets used to it. Some breeds, such as Maltese or poodles, will need to visit a professional groomer on a regular basis.
There are many benefits of regular grooming, including:
- Brushing helps removes dirt, dead skin, loose hairs, grass seeds, and tangles from your dog’s coat
- Brushing helps shorten the autumn and spring coat moult
- Brushing keeps your dog cool in summer by helping to remove excess hair and knots
- Washing your dog with a flea control shampoo in summer will help keep them free of parasites (avoid washing your dog too frequently though, as it strips away natural oils)
Cats and kittens
Food and nutrition
Choose high-quality commercial food for your cat, giving them some variety here and there. Offer some natural food as well, like fresh, human-grade raw meat, a raw egg or some raw meaty bones (not too small in case of choking). Always supervise your cat when they eat a bone and do not feed your cat cooked bones, as they can splinter and cause harm.
As most adult cats will prefer to eat smaller meals throughout the day, offer them their food 3-4 times a day. That being said, most cats are happy to graze on dry food. Some foods that humans eat are dangerous to cats, so be sure to check before giving any leftovers to your cat.
Toys are a good way of encouraging your cat or kitten to keep active. They are especially important for indoor cats, as they do not go outside to hunt and exercise. Almost anything can be turned into a cat toy, but just make sure there are no small parts that the cat could swallow and choke on. Cats also need to scratch regularly to sharpen their claws, get rid of dead skin and to exercise, so it is important to provide at least one scratching post for your feline.
Having your cat or kitten desexed is a crucial aspect of responsible pet ownership. Desexing can have many positive benefits on your pet’s health and behaviour. Not only can it help to improve their temperament, but it can also reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer. Having your pet desexed also means he or she won’t be contributing to the high number of unwanted companion animals. Click here to read more about the benefits of desexing and get the facts about some common desexing myths.
Vaccinations and worming
All cats and kittens adopted from The Lost Dogs’ Home are vaccinated, wormed, FIV tested and vet checked. Consult your vet about how often your cat will need booster injections and worming tablets.
Short-haired cats do not really need to be brushed, except during shedding season. Long-haired cats, however, need to be brushed regularly. A medium to stiff brush is good for short-haired cats. For long-haired cats, it is best to comb first, and then brush with a medium to stiff brush. Remember to brush in the direction of the fur, otherwise you will cause discomfort to your cat.