April is National Pet Month, when we can celebrate the special bond we have with our pets, and promote responsible pet ownership.
I feel incredibly fortunate to live in a country of animal lovers.
Not all cultures respect and care for pets in the same way that we do. But here in the UK it is a blessing to find myself surrounded by like minded people, who consider pets an important part of the family.
I recently noticed this especially when I visited a local Scout group. There were at least forty young people in the hall, and it soon became clear that whilst some were listening to me, others had eyes only for my Labrador companion, Jasmine. It was as if there was a magnet drawing her admirers ever closer.
So how can we encourage our youngsters to be responsible pet owners?
I try to include any children who come into the consulting room as much as possible. Well behaved ones often get a turn with my stethoscope, and I am now teaching the DRS ABC first aid for pets to school age children.
At home, we can encourage them to look over their pet’s health every day.
They should look at each eye, wiping away any discharge. Then check each ear, sniffing for any bad smell and looking for dirt. Next it’s the teeth, which is especially important in pet rabbits, whose teeth grow each day, but seem the same length if all is well. Some dogs and even cats will allow gentle tooth brushing, best done with the mouth gently held closed.
Some gentle daily brushing of the coat will allow you to spot any new lumps or cuts, and even alert you to the presence of fleas. And at least weekly the claws should be checked, and trimmed if getting a little long.
Finally, rabbits should be turned over gently every day to check their privates for signs of soiling, or worse, maggots. This can easily be done as you transfer them from their night-time lodgings into their grassy paddock. Rabbits need grass and sunshine to maintain healthy teeth and bones.
If you would like me to teach first aid for pets to your group or club, do email me at email@example.com