Having a pet is a joyous experience. S/he will give you companionship, love, affection, and the incentive to exercise regularly. Your pet will also tightly bond the family together. But being a pet parent has its share of responsibilities that you have to commit to... Do you have the time and resources to give your pet a happy and healthy life? Are you prepared to scoop poop? Are you ready to take her/him for a daily walk – be it scorching heat, lashing rains or cold? Are you aware of the long-term costs of dog food, vet care, and kennels?
Pedigree, mixed breed?
The choice is yours – Pedigree ensures a safe source as to not encourage puppy mills. If you can adopt from an organisation or street, it’s a great way to give an animal a home.
Coat type to consider
Coat type is a critical consideration when choosing a dog. Some breed coats require daily grooming. Make sure you understand all about the coat length and grooming needs of your chosen breed before you bring your pet home.
Get to know your friend
If you decide to get a mature dog, over six months old, do not go just on appearance. Before you take him home, see how he/she responds to your commands, accepts being touched.
Where to get a dog from
First ask a vet for sources. An animal shelter is another source. We encourage you to adopt and not shop.
The right vet?
Ask your friends with pets to recommend a vet. Visit the clinic to see the facilities offered and discuss your dog’s vaccination, diet, worming, and checkups.
Male or female?
- Young unneutered males can be difficult to manage.
- Female dogs go “on heat” twice a year and this demands extra vigilance.
- Ask a vet on temperament/neutering options of female/male dog.
How to make sure your puppy is healthy
- Choose a puppy over eight weeks old. Lift the ear flaps to see if the ear is pink inside, with neither an unpleasant odour nor any sign of crusty or waxy discharge. Such deposits or discharges might indicate ear mites. Check that the ear flaps hang evenly. Slight head and ear shaking is normal in dogs, especially after waking up.
- Hold the head still and check that the eyes are clear, bright, and free from any discharge. Stains around the facial hair might indicate discharge. Make sure there’s no sign of redness, squinting, or inflammation. A puppy which tries to scratch his eyes may have an infection.
- To check the teeth and gums, gently part the lips. See that the gums and tongue are pink (or mottled with black pigment) and odour free. Gums should form a clean margin with the teeth. In most breeds (Boxer being an exception), the teeth should generally meet perfectly in a scissor bite.
- Check for oily or flaky skin and make sure there are no lumps or abrasions. The hair should be firm and not come out when you stroke it (healthy fur glistens and only comes out when moulting). Run your hand against the grain of the coat to help you spot any skin defects or parasites.
- The anal region under the tail should be clean and dry. There should be no inflammation, or sign of diarrhoea, dried faecesor other discharge from genitals. Dragging the rear along the floor, or excess licking, can indicate an irritation caused by blocked anal glands.
Did you know?
- Oysters can change gender
- The closest living relatives of Tyrannosaurus Rex are chickens!
- Research shows dogs appreciate music and have their own individual music preferences too. Reggae is apparently a firm favourite of the canine world!
- Baby elephants suck their trunks for comfort
- Trained pigeons can tell the difference between the paintings of Pablo Picasso and Claude Monet.
Are you a proud pet parent? Have a cute cat story to share? Maybe your guinea pig is giving you trouble? Whatever is your creature companion, we are here to listen to you. Send your
photos, queries and stories to [email protected]