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We take a look at how our busy and often unhealthy lifestyles affect our pets
In today’s homes, life is often stressful and time short, but is our hectic day to day human behaviour also adversely affecting our pets?
Dogs and cats have excellent and very sensitive hearing, and subjecting them to loud noise can be both stressful and damaging to their delicate ears. Make sure your pet has a quiet area to relax, where he or she can get away from loud music and televisions.
Smoking around pets is damaging to their health. Pets who are owned by smokers are much more likely to develop cancer. Animals passive smoke, just as non-smoking humans who live with smokers do. Additionally, cats are particularly vulnerable as they are constantly grooming themselves, digesting the dangerous chemicals that are floating in the air.
If you must smoke in your home, try to keep most of the home a smoke-free zone or smoke outside. Keep smoking rooms well ventilated and keep pets out of these rooms.
Poor pets. Not only have we the traditional November tranche of fireworks, but nowadays they are also very common at New Year, Chinese New Year and Diwali. You may not have fireworks yourself, but of course, they are all around, particularly if you live near others. See our article on preparing your pets for what can be for them a pretty terrifying time.
Does your pet sleep in the kitchen? Do you put your washing machine on at night? Kitchens and utility areas are usually where our pets sleep and they do tend to be one of the noisiest spaces in the home. If the kitchen is the only place your pet is able to sleep, ensure domestic appliances are away from your pets’ sleeping area and not put on when your pet is resting.
Dogs are particularly vulnerable to being affected by our food. Our canine friends are often very greedy and not too discerning in what they will eat. Did you know that many of the foods that we routinely eat can do a great deal of harm to your dog see our article on the dangers of (human) junk food to dogs.
Obesity in pets - particularly dogs, who, like humans, have little self control in this area - has reached epidemic proportions, just as it has in humans. Often owners are too busy to walk their dogs. Many owners feel guilty about lack of exercise and often turn to giving unhealthy snacks to ‘treat’ their dog.
With the trend for laminate and wooden flooring in the home over the last few years, there has been an increase in injury to pets pets struggling on slippery flooring. Older dogs or animals with movement problems such as arthritis are at particular risk of injury and many pets dislike laminate flooring. Fixed rugs should be placed (adhered to the floor) in areas where pets frequent to reduce the risk of injury.
Quite apart from food that is dangerous there are other items found in the modern home that can be dangerous to pets. Still water left anywhere may be drunk by a thirsty cat or dog - even though it may contain poisonous chemicals such as cleaners or plant food. Items that you might never think of are poisonous to those dogs of a scavenging nature - e-cigarettes, artificial sweetener tablets, paracetamol and other human drugs, chewing gum etc.
Many of the sprays (air fresheners, cleaners etc) that we use in the home are very poisonous to pet birds and pet fish (bear this in mind in the garden too if you have a pond and are using chemicals near it).
Birds are very vulnerable to the heavy metals that are routinely found in our home. Read our article about avian heavy metal poisoning to find out more. They can also be poisoned by the gas given off when a non-stick surface overheats. Keep this in mind if you keep your pet bird in the kitchen.
If you have pet rabbits or any type of pet rodent make sure they are unable to access electric cabling. Pets can easily eletrocute themselves and even cause a fire. In the wild such animals gnaw naturally on tree and plant roots and this is what they think an electric wire is. Remember too that young animals, such as puppies and kittens like to gnaw on everything as they explore with their mouths. Our homes these days are full of wires - they should be boxed in if you have pets that could chew them.
If you are too busy to make your garden an earthly paradise then at least you should keep it safe for your family and your pets. Make sure that no broken glass, rusty metal, barbed wire or any other sharp edges are left around.
Throw away or seal and store very carefully any chemicals in the shed or garage. Paints, insecticides, weed killers etc. Antifreeze and de-icer are both very poisonous to dogs and cats. Avoid planting, or remove if already there plants that are poisonous. While cats and dogs do not routinely eat plants they are both known to chew on greenery from time to time.
Ensure that outbuildings, garages, bike stores sheds etc are kept firmly closed to stop cats particularly straying into them and becoming trapped.