We all want to do the best for our pets, and as Britain finally welcomes the warm weather, I've been keen to highlight what owners need to remember as the temperature goes up.
Pollen and other seasonal allergies affect pets just as much as humans; the hot sun can give our animals sunburn, as well as heating up the pavements and walkways which can in turn damage their paws. However my biggest angst at this time of year is definitely towards owners who leave their dogs locked up in cars while the heats soars, which should be front of mind for everyone.
With summer here and schools breaking up, plenty of Britons will soon be heading off on their holidays, many with their pets in tow. Recent research from Sainsbury's Bank shows that there was a 77 per cent year-on-year increase in pet passports issued from 2014-2015, more than 125,000 in total. Indeed, the same research showed that three-fifths of Britons (60%) admitted feeling sad when leaving their pet at home when they go on holiday.
This is unsurprising, given that MedicAnimal's own research shows that pet owners consider their animals to be part of the family. Almost three-quarters (73%) of people told us that having a dog is good for their mental health, while 86 per cent of people believe owning a cat has made them a happier person. The decision to leave them behind will no doubt be taken reluctantly.
If you are a dog-owner, making provision for someone to walk and feed your dog regularly is likely to mean a friend or family member taking over while you're away, or alternatively, a trip to the kennels. However, cats are far more independent and therefore, if you're able to provide appropriate care and cover, it might be possible to keep your cat at home in a familiar environment. Here are some handy suggestions on what you need to consider to make the best decision for your cat:
1. Friends and neighbours: Certainly the best option is to have a pet sitter or a trusted neighbour to or friend visit daily to feed, water and socialise with your cat. Nothing beats the family home from your cat's viewpoint. The frequency (minimum twice daily) should match the usual feeding times and they should monitor your cat's litter for anything irregular. If the carer only pops in and out they may not have enough time to really observe how your cat is doing physically and emotionally;
2. Don't underestimate your cat's needs: Too many people view cats as low maintenance and do not hesitate to leave them on their own for sometimes up to four/five days;
3. No one likes an empty house: Cats are social animals and unexpectedly having an empty house can be quite confusing and cause unnecessary anxiety;
4. Considering a cattery? The next best choice is a boarding cattery; there are good ones, great ones and truly terrible ones. Make sure you visit beforehand and imagine it from your cat's viewpoint. How does it smell? Are there loud noises? Do they provide hidey holes and places to climb up and view downwards? Is there enough room in the cage? I.e. enough to have a decent space between the litter tray and the food? What social elements does the cattery they provide? Do they socialise and play with the cats and what type of environmental enrichment do they provide? Importantly, do they have access to an emergency veterinarian? Is it managed at night? What do they do to help anxious or stressed cats? Do the cages face each other (as this can be stressful).
No one likes leaving their pet, but if you can answer and resolve all of these questions, you should be able to have a restful holiday, safe in the knowledge that your pet is being looked after too.