Responsible Pet Ownership
Here at Northern Districts Veterinary Hospital we promote the concept of Responsible Pet Ownership, which results in a happy, healthy, well-socialised animal. This leads to a pet which is a pleasure for you and is going to assimilate well into our busy, social and urbanised lives.
The key points of Responsible Pet Ownership are:
In New South Wales it is a legal requirement for all puppies and kittens to be microchipped by twelve weeks of age or before they change ownership, whichever happens first. This means that your dog/ cat should have already been microchipped before you get him/her. Occasionally this does not occur and you therefore need to get them microchipped as soon as possible.
Remember: a microchip is only as good as the details on the database so it is important to remember to update the details if your address or contact details change.
To update any of your details or to make sure they are correct, visit the NSW Pet Registry website www.petregistry.nsw.gov.au, create a profile and ‘claim’ your pet by searching for the microchip number and the contact telephone number or email address attached to the microchip number.
Your puppy or kitten should be registered with your local council by 6 months of age. Most commonly people go to register their pet straight after their animal is desexed as the registration fee for a desexed animal is cheaper than that for an entire animal - you will need to take your desexing certificate with you.
We strongly recommend getting dogs, cats and rabbits of both sexes desexed by 6 months of age. Apart from the obvious prevention of unwanted pregnancies there are significant health and social benefits to desexing.
Undesexed female dogs are at an increased risk of mammary tumours and a womb infection (pyometra) both of which can be fatal. Undesexed male dogs are at increased risk of prostate conditions along with hormone-related tumours and hernias and testicular tumours. Desexing male dogs also prevents unwanted male behaviours such as wandering (which puts them at increased risk of being hit by a car), mounting, urine marking, dominance and aggression.
We recommend getting both female and male dogs desexed from 5½ to 6 months.
Undesexed female cats will come into season every 3 weeks and will continuously look for opportunities to escape and mate with a male cat. They are also at risk of mammary tumours and pyometra. Undesexed male cats will start to spray at approx 6 months, and if let outside will seek to mate with females and fight with other male cats. They can become quite a neighbourhood nuisance and spread disease- particularly Feline Immuno Deficiency Virus (FIV). We recommend desexing male and female cats from 4½ to 5 months.
Undesexed female rabbits are at a high risk of uterine cancer (over 50% in middle aged rabbits) and can become very hormonal and aggressive. Undesexed male rabbits can become aggressive, flick urine and start humping.
We recommend desexing both female and male rabbits from 4 months of age.
We strongly recommend going to puppy school for training and socialisation. It is important from a young age, for puppies to learn normal social behaviours and develop normal relationships with dogs and humans. This leads to a happy, confident adult dog!
Most puppy schools will accept pups after their second puppy vaccination at 10-12 weeks of age.
Practising and repeating basic training with your new puppy will make you and your puppy bond. Your puppy will also learn to trust you and learn to defer to you for guidance in a stressful situation. This essentially ensures as an adult, your dog is under your effective control in all situations, so no harm comes to your dog, other dogs or other people. Training and developing this bond is the fun part of being a pet owner, so get involved!
Handling and grooming your pup from a young age helps get it used to situations it might otherwise find a little scary. Try small food rewards, so that next time you try to clip its nails, brush its teeth or clean its ears it knows that good behaviour will be rewarded.
We run puppy classes on Saturday afternoons here at Northern Districts Vet Hospital with Fiona from Dog On It. For more information please contact us or visit http://www.dogonit.com.au/.
Beyond puppy class we encourage continued training. There are a number of training, agility and obedience classes in the area. Please feel free to contact us for details of the local classes, groups and clubs we recommend.
Lifelong healthcare is important to not only keep your pet happy and healthy, but to help the general pet population in the area be as healthy as possible as well.
Vaccination schemes need a minimum uptake of 80% to be effective on the general population, so it is important that all pet owners get their animals vaccinated regularly. Potentially fatal diseases such as Distemper and Parvovirus have become a rarity in Sydney’s Northern Beaches due to the high uptake of immunisation in the area. It is important that this continues so that your pets remain safe.
It is also important to regularly use flea and tick prevention, gastrointestinal worming and heartworm prevention - see Routine Health Care for further info.
The financial costs of illness or injury to your pet can be significant, especially if Specialist Veterinary Care is needed. Treatment costs of up to $10,000 are not uncommon and occasionally costs can be even higher. It is worth thinking about how you would pay for treatment if your animal became sick or injured. Remember there is no Medicare for pets! Pet insurance is a growing industry in Australia and is worth investigating. For more information please see the Pet Insurance section.