10 things an Inspector would never do to their pet

Pet Care Dogs Pet Health Pets Animal Cruelty Animals Animal Welfare Cats Desex Your Pet Education Posted Jan 18, 2024
From vegan diets, to hot cars, take a deep dive here...

Our RSPCA Inspectors are on the front line of animal welfare and work tirelessly to protect all creatures great and small.

While responsible pet owners understand the basics of upholding their pet's general health and wellbeing, our Inspectorate Team Leader Steffi has detailed 10 things she would never do to her pet.

Leaving a dog tied up

RSPCA Inspectors are inundated with calls every year in summer about animals that have been tied up, become tangled, and are suffering heat stress.

If your pet needs to be tied up, care should be taken to ensure it’s only for short periods and your pet has access to plenty of shade, water and cannot become tangled.

Providing veterinary treatment yourself

A trip to the vet can be expensive, however, all too often our RSPCA Inspectors come across pet owners who have tried to treat their pet’s injuries at home and often with human medications. This is incredibly dangerous. Most human medications are not suitable for animals and can even be fatal. If your animal is sick or injured, a vet should always be consulted before starting treatment.

Purchasing poor quality flea and tick products

Every year our Inspectors come across animals suffering from tick paralysis or flea allergy dermatitis (a secondary condition causing inflamed skin and hair loss from flea bites) when owners have been treating their pets with flea and tick products purchased from supermarkets. It is best to purchase good quality flea and tick products to ensure your pet is appropriately protected.

Feeding cats a vegan diet

Cats are carnivorous animals and rely on meat in their diet to survive. Our RSPCA Inspectors are unfortunately coming across more animals being fed vegan diets, which in cats can be fatal. Cats need to be fed a carnivorous diet to survive. Human nutrition is vastly different to cat nutrition and what might sustain a human, will not necessarily be appropriate for your cat.

Not desexing a pet

RSPCA Inspectors often deal with situations where owners become inundated with too many animals after they breed.

Cats can breed from a young age and often, so owners become trapped in a continuous breeding cycle where one animal quickly turns into 20 or more. Desexing has many health benefits to animals and can reduce certain types of cancers or health issues down the track. Inspectors often hear owners say they want their female animal to "experience motherhood" or their male animal not to "loose his manhood".

What they don't consider is that their beloved female dog may have complications during pregnancy and birth and she may suffer the loss of puppies. An owner may need to be prepared for emergency c-section and the risk of the bitch or puppies dying. Their much-loved male animal may get testicular cancer if not desexed. There is also the work that goes in to caring for puppies and the expense of vaccinations, microchipping and health checks and the possibility of not being able to rehome the puppies. To protect your pet please desex!

Walking dogs in the heat

Animals can suffer from heat stress easily during hot weather. Even if their owner is not feeling heat stressed, an animal with a fur coat can become heat stressed very quickly if exercised during hot weather. Dogs can also burn their feet if walking on hot ground. As a rule, if you cannot hold your hand on the ground for 5 seconds then it is too hot to walk your pet.

Purchasing a pet online or from an unreliable source

Buying a pet from a third party where the pet’s parents cannot be sighted and the living conditions the animals are kept in cannot be assessed, is risky business. What pet owners don't realise is the cute, clean, fluffy puppy in the pet shop or listed online, may have come from a puppy farm.

When considering purchasing a puppy or kitten to add to your family, consider adoption or find responsible breeders who allow you to view the parents as well as where the animals live day to day. People often assume if they are purchasing from a pet shop that the pet shop has done their due diligence and that the breeders must be responsible, however, often animals are dropped off at pet shops and no one has been able to see the parents or the living arrangements. Do your research before getting a pet. Here are some tips.

Leaving pets in a hot car

The dangers of leaving a pet in a hot car is a message we spread every year.

Each summer, RSPCA Inspectors are inundated with calls about animals left in hot vehicles. Dogs can die in a hot vehicle within 6 minutes. Even if the car is in the shade and there is water, animals can still overheat quickly.

A sure sign that a dog is suffering heat stress in a vehicle is heavy panting, drooling and climbing down into the footwell to try and get cooler. People travelling with dogs on utes also need to be aware their dog may become heat stressed if they are travelling longer distances. Unbelievably, people have even left their dogs in vehicles when attending the theme parks on the Gold Coast. A pet is much happier at home where they can seek shade and water than in a hot vehicle.

Getting a pet without considering the costs and commitment

RSPCA Inspectors are often having to manage people who have acquired an animal which has become sick and they are unable to afford veterinary care. Another concern is pet owners being unable to continue to feed their animals.

An animal is a long-term commitment, with some birds outliving their owners for example. People need to be prepared to support their animal financially. Whether it be vet treatment or food for the duration of its life, if you can’t fulfil this for your pet, be prepared to ask for help from family/friends or reach out to rescue groups to ensure your animal gets a better life. Far too often Inspectors see animals suffer because their owners are unable to afford their care and are unwilling to ask for help.

Physically disciplining an animal

Research has shown physical punishment does not get results when training a dog. Sadly, media personalities like Cesar Milan have given the public a misconception that dominance-based training will get results in training their animal.

Similar to children, causing fear in an animal does not breed a healthy animal-owner relationship. Often the animal does not understand why they are being punished. For example, they cannot correlate that being hit or kicked is because they urinated on the floor while their owner was at work.

Positive based training encourages a collaborative and healthy relationship between you and your dog. You’ll certainly see the results with a well behaved and well-balanced companion through love and treats rather than fear and punishment. Sometimes dog behaviour can be quite complex and if an owner is struggling to train their dog, then they should seek professional help from a dog trainer like our team at RSPCA School for Pets who use positive reinforcement training techniques.

Jacobbe McBride
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