Surprising Facts About a Dog’s and Cat’s Health and Well-being

person with pet dog

New Zealand is home to many dogs and cats. In fact, the dog population in the country is rising faster than people. As of late, the number of registered dogs in New Zealand is more than 560,500. That’s about one dog for every third household, or one in nine people being a pooch-parent.

Cats are thriving in the country as well. New Zealand has, in fact, one of the highest rates of cat ownership in the world. Forty-four percent of Kiwi households have at least one cat. The total estimate of the cat population, meanwhile, stands at 1.134 million. That doesn’t even include strays yet, which could be as many as 196,000.

If that many cats and dogs have a home in New Zealand, it’s probably safe to assume that Kiwis excel at pet care. But how well do you know your pet’s needs? In this article, we’ve listed down some lesser-known facts about a dog’s and cat’s health and well-being; see how many of them you have heard.

1. Certain Dog Breeds Are Banned in New Zealand

The Dog Control Act of 1996 prohibits American Pit Bull Terrier dogs and Dogo Argentino, Brazilian Fila, and Japanese Tosa breeds from being imported into the country. Hence, if you want to own one of those dog breeds, it’s either you won’t find them anywhere, or an illegal breeder will sell it to you.

If you already own one, you may encounter trouble during veterinary visits. Chances are your vet knows that your dog is banned in your country, putting you at risk of a legal dilemma. So if you want the best for your dog, go for breeds that New Zealand allows, or adopt a stray.

2. You Can Train a Dog to Stop Barking at Strangers

This probably sounds odd to you because most people get a dog so that they’d bark at unwelcome intruders. But some dogs keep barking even if there’s no one around. Their constant barking can put you in trouble; the Dog Control Act of 1996 urges owners to take “all reasonable steps” to ensure that their dogs don’t constantly bark, harm, or roam.

Barking is a dog’s instinct, so it may seem impossible to control it. But you can. If you stop encouraging the behaviour, your dog will get the message and control its urges to bark. You can ignore their barking, bring them inside the house or a room, or get them accustomed to the reason for their barking. Avoid yelling at your dog or punishing them. Negative reinforcement may trigger a defensive — and therefore dangerous — behaviour.

person carrying a dog

3. You Can Train a Cat to Stop Scratching You

Many pet owners think a cat’s scratch is the equivalent of a dog’s licking. Hence, they don’t try to stop their feline friends from scratching them. But as with barking, cats can also be trained to keep their claws to themselves.

If your cat scratches you, it probably bites you, too. Stop these behaviours by determining what triggers them in the first place. If they scratch when you touch them, it likely means they don’t want to be touched. Tame them by giving them a toy to play with instead. It will take their mind off hurting you and allow you to play with them unharmed.

4. Spaying or Neutering Helps Tame Aggressive Behaviour

Spaying or neutering can reduce a dog’s dominant behavior and a cat’s constant scratching and biting. In some places, it’s mandatory to do this. But Kiwis are under no obligation to spay or neuter their fur babies. Still, consider it. It will help reduce the number of unwanted pets who end up abandoned on the streets.

Spaying or neutering is beneficial for your pet’s overall health as well. It helps prolong their lives, decreases their risks of serious diseases, and prevents them from fighting other dogs or cats.

5. Dogs Can be Vegan or Vegetarian

If you’re a vegan or a vegetarian, your dog can share your diet, too. Some high-quality pet foods sold online are vegetarian or vegan. Cats, on the other hand, should have neither diet.

You can occasionally give your dog or cat raw food. But be careful in considering a raw food diet for your dog. While their bodies can digest uncooked meat and bones, it can expose them to bacteria and disease. Cats, on the other hand, thrive better with wet, canned, or cooked food. Kibbles are low in protein and water, making them an unhealthy treat.

If you notice some health and well-being issues in your pet, consult a veterinarian. Don’t try to remedy their conditions with human medicines or treatments. If they have a high tolerance for potentially toxic foods, don’t abuse this. All animals have a different set of needs from humans.

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