How dog friendly are we as a society, and how well do we take care of our nearest and dearest? In Europe, dogs are welcome, even feted, in restaurants, hotels and other public spaces. Here celebrity vet Dr Katrina Warren shares her views on how we fare in the pooch-friendly stakes and gives us some tips for keeping them in tip top shape.
How dog friendly do you think Australia is?
“Not dog friendly enough! Australians love their pets and we have one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world. Yet we are nowhere near as dog friendly as Europe or the USA. In other parts of the world, it is not uncommon for small pets to fly inside the cabin on aircraft and also be welcomed as guests to most hotels and restaurants.”
What measures would you like to see enacted?
“I would love to see more pet-friendly cafes, beaches, parks and hotels. I would also like more work places to encourage people to bring their dogs in. Even if it is just one day a month.
We need to provide more pet-friendly retirement villages and aged care facilities, as we know that pets are wonderful companions for our senior citizens. I would also like to see more rental properties and apartment buildings welcome pets.”
What are your top tips for keeping our pooches healthy?
- I recommend an annual visit to the vet for a thorough check up. As your pet becomes 'senior', it's a good idea to have two check ups a year.
- Be diligent with your parasite control to control fleas, heartworm and intestinal worms.
- Daily exercise is important to keep your dog physically and mentally active.
- A high quality and balanced diet that includes some hard food and bones to keep your dog’s teeth and gums healthy.
- Lots of love!
What aspects of dog healthcare do we most commonly overlook?
“People often overfeed their pets with table scraps and human food and, as a result, we are seeing many overweight pets. This is very dangerous for their health and can predispose them to conditions like heart disease or diabetes.
It is also important for dog owners to keep their dog free from the discomfort of fleas and the health complications associated with them, by using a flea control product such as Revolution®.”
You are a passionate advocate of dop adoption. What are the primary obstacles to this?
“People often assume there must be something wrong with an animal because it is in a shelter. This is often not the case as many pets simply get surrendered because the owner’s circumstances have changed and they can no longer care for their pet. It is important that the shelter staff match you to the right pet.”
What do I need to look for when sourcing a dog from a breeder?
“Make sure the breeder is registered with the Canine Control organisation in your state or territory. The breeder should provide you with the history of the puppy, registration papers and any veterinary records associated with inherited disorders. They should welcome you to the property where the puppy was raised and if the breeder will not allow this, then buy your puppy elsewhere.
As most people are looking for an indoor family pet, I recommend looking for a breeder who allows their puppies to spend substantial time indoors. Socialisation in the early weeks of life is very important and all puppies should have individual time spent with them. Remember, people breeding multiple litters would probably not have the time to effectively socialise each pup properly. You must be satisfied with the level of cleanliness of the property and health of the dogs or else walk away.
Remember, physical and behavioural traits can be inherited so, where possible, ask to meet both the parents. At the very least, meet the pup’s mother and be happy with her temperament and condition. A good breeder will answer your questions and provide ongoing support and guidance. They should offer you information about things such as diet, vaccinations and micro chipping.”
Do you think we need a dog ownership test in Australia?
“That would be fantastic, but I doubt it will ever happen! People need to be responsible. A dog owner should guarantee to desex their pets, properly identify them and make a commitment to providing them with adequate health care, training and exercise.”
Dr. Katrina Warren is a representative of PawClub
, a Pfizer Australia Animal Health initiative dedicated to helping pet owners better care for their animals.