Do You Have A New Pet?

During the lockdown period, many people have welcomed a new pet into their homes, and this has allowed plenty of quality time for owners to bond with their pet. However, as life begins to return to normal it is inevitable that pets will have to start adapting to new routines. Owners will need to ensure that during this transition they are able to continue providing for their pet and that the five welfare needs of their pet are met.


What are the five welfare needs?


The Animal Welfare Act 2006 makes owners responsible for providing appropriate care for their pet and ensuring that their pet has a good quality of life that prevents any suffering. Owners need to be able to follow each of the five welfare needs to ensure that they fulfil their responsibility of caring for their pet. 


1.    The need to be protected from pain, injury, suffering and disease


All pets need to be provided with appropriate veterinary care throughout their life to maintain their health and to help protect against illness. Owners should also ensure that any injuries or illnesses that their pet may develop are treated promptly to prevent any suffering.


2.    The need to exhibit normal behaviour patterns


It is important that all pets are provided with the opportunity to display their normal behaviour and are provided with appropriate mental stimulation. This requirement will vary depending on the species of your pet, as certain pets need to be allowed to express particular behaviours to prevent stress and behavioural problems from developing.


3.    The need for a suitable environment


The environment that a pet lives in is important for ensuring a good quality of life, as an inappropriate environment can impact a pet’s health and welfare. Not only is the size of the environment important, but also the place you keep your pet, and the furniture and toys that are available for your pet to interact with needs to be appropriate for the species.



4.    The need for a suitable diet


The diet a pet is fed is essential for maintaining their health, so it should be appropriate for your pets species, life stage and any health requirements they may have. If you are unsure what you should be feeding your pet then speak to one of our veterinary team, who will be able to advise you.


5.    The need to be housed with, or apart from, other animals


Companionship from other pets of the same species is essential for some pets but not for all. Some solitary species, such as the Syrian hamster, should always be kept alone, while other sociable animals need to be kept in pairs or groups, to prevent loneliness. It is important that owners are aware of the companionship needs of their pet to ensure a good quality of life.


Continuing to care for your pet’s welfare needs as normality resumes


As our everyday commitments resume it is essential that all new pet owners ensure they are still able to comply with the five welfare needs. While these needs will vary depending on the species of pet and the owner’s individual situation, there are some common considerations that a change in a pet’s routine can bring.


Maintaining your pet’s health care


Owners will need to continue to keep their pet’s routine health care up to date to help keep their pet healthy. Each pet’s routine care will vary, so you should discuss your individual pet’s needs with one of our veterinary team. If a pet becomes unwell or injured then it is essential that owners promptly bring their pet to see one of our vets for treatment.  


Preventing behavioural issues


Some pets may have never been left on their own since their owner brought them home, so suddenly starting to leave a pet alone could result in separation issues. This behaviour is most commonly seen in dogs. Owners can try to prevent this from happening by gradually introducing their dog to being left alone for short periods of time. Initially, your pet should only be left for a minute before you return to them, and if they remain settled then the time can slowly be increased. If your dog is showing signs of separation anxiety then you should speak to one of our veterinary team for advice.

Many puppies may have had their vaccinations delayed, which can increase their risk of developing socialisation problems, as a result of not being able to meet other dogs. Also, as a result of lockdown rules, they may not be familiar with people outside of their household, which can make them nervous with other people. Care needs to be taken when socialising your puppy, as any negative interactions can have a long lasting effect on your pet, so you should consider enrolling with a reputable puppy socialisation class to help improve your puppy’s socialisation in a safe environment.


Safely leaving your pet alone


When pets are left alone they should be provided with a safe environment with sufficient space, where they are protected from any hazards, such as toxins. Prey animals should also be kept safe from any potential predators, which may include wild animals if your pet is kept outside but can also include other family pets. 

While most pets will quickly adapt to being left alone during the day, some pets such as dogs, should only be left for up to four hours at a time. If you are going to need to leave your dog for longer, then a dog walker or day care kennels could be considered. 


Maintaining your pets feeding routine


To help pets adapt to any new routine changes it can be useful to maintain a regular feeding routine. This means you should feed your pet at a similar time each day and keep the number of meals consistent. If you do need to alter your pet’s feeding routine then making any changes gradually will help your pet to adapt.


If you have any concerns, or would like some advice on anything discussed in this article, please do get in touch and one of our team would be happy to help!

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