Do you love animals and want to be their friend? You can find out more about dogs, cats, hamsters and snakes here and how to look after them properly. Sometimes, people do things that hurt animals by mistake, because they don't know any better or they believe stories like cutting a dog's tongue to get rid of worms. This is not true - worms live in your dog's digestive system and cutting his tongue will cause him a lot of pain without doing any good.
A dog needs regular exercise and plenty of opportunities to walk and run. Most enjoy playing with toys, people and other dogs. Favourite toys are balls, an old shoe and rope-type toys for tug-of-war games! Dogs can't use toothpaste and toothbrushes to clean their teeth – they need crunchy dog chunks or other chewable treats to keep their teeth clean and strong. Don't share your chocolate bar with your dog - it could make him very sick – and always make sure he has fresh water to drink. This is especially important on hot summer days and when you get back after taking him for a walk.
Cats naturally use objects to scratch, to mark their territory, strengthen their muscles and sharpen their claws. If your cat lives mostly inside, get him a scratching post (or make one for him out of a piece of wood covered in an old carpet) so he doesn't ruin the furniture. Never shout at your cat or punish him for doing something wrong as he can't really understand and will just become scared of you. Cats need meat or fish-based food and cannot live on a vegetarian diet. Never give your cat onions, garlic, raisins, grapes or chocolate, as these are poisonous to them. Many cats will not eat if their food is placed too close to their toilet site or litter box.
Owning a pet rodent can be fun, especially if you're not allowed a bigger pet like a dog or cat – but it is a big responsibility, since a caged animal cannot find its own food and water if you forget. Most rodents are active at night and may make a noise when you are trying to sleep. Their cage needs to be cleaned thoroughly once a week and you should remove damp litter every couple of days. It's good to let your hamster, rat or mouse out of the cage now and again, but keep a close watch on it as these creatures can 'disappear' into unlikely places where they could be at risk from other pets, electric cables, toxic household cleaners and open containers of liquid.
Keeping snakes, lizards and other exotic pets
Captivity causes an unnatural life of misery for exotic birds and animals – snakes, lizards, hedgehogs and other non-domesticated animals – and the SPCA is opposed to them being kept or bred as pets. Many people who keep such pets are not able to provide the correct food; they may not realise how big the animal will grow or how long it may live - and the health issues that might affect it. Just because snakes, lizards and fish are 'cold blooded' does not mean they don't feel pain, fear and anxiety if they don't have places to hide. For more information on exotic animals, click here.
Fireworks are fun and exciting, but the ones with long bangs are terrifying to many dogs, cats and other pets. This is because your dog has much better hearing than you do - sounds are five times louder to him – and your cat's hearing is even more acute. Cats can hear a grasshopper eating! Dogs may also chase a firecracker that's thrown which can cause terrible injuries to its mouth if the firework explodes in its mouth. Keep your pets inside when fireworks are being set alight in your neighbourhood and give them something to eat or play with to distract them.