Tips on how to be a responsible pet owner

Responsible pet ownership means looking after your animals and making sure they don't harm native fauna or the environment.

Tips on how to be a responsible pet owner

1. Keeping your pet clean

Animal feces carry parasites which can infect people and pollute the environment. There are a number of precautions you can take to prevent infection.

  • When out walking your dog, keep an eye on your pet and try to stop it from defecating on footpaths, in children's sandboxes and near drains. Dog feces are a major source of water pollution in urban areas.
  • Pick up dog feces with a biodegradable plastic bag or a pooper-scooper. Many local city services provide labelled disposal bins and plastic bags for feces collection.
  • Clean your cat's litter tray regularly in scalding water or use a low-toxicity cleanser to kill germs. Biodegradable, environmentally friendly litters such as recycled paper pellets are available from supermarkets. Or you can line your cat's tray with torn-up newspapers.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after direct contact with dogs and cats, especially before meals, to prevent catching diseases. Don't allow dogs to lick the faces of family members.
  • Toxoplasmosis can be caught through contact with cat feces. It's a systemic disease that cats acquire from eating infected raw meat. Pregnant women are particularly at risk, so take extra care.

2. Keeping wildlife safe

Pets that are allowed to wander indiscriminately pose a threat to native wildlife and to themselves. By taking a few simple precautions, it's easy to minimize the impact your pet makes on the environment.

  • Don't let your dog wander unchecked. Make sure it can't get out during the day and keep it on a leash in most places outdoors.
  • Consider keeping your cat inside at night. This is one of the most effective ways to stop it from hunting.
  • Have your pet spayed or neutered. This will make it less likely to roam and encounter wildlife. And fewer unwanted pregnancies will mean there are fewer feral animals on the loose.
  • Put a bell on your cat to warn native animals and birds of its approach.
  • Don't feed stray animals – they may turn feral. Contact your local council to pick them up.

3. Animal rescue

Rescuing a sick or injured animal and nurturing it back to health can be very satisfying. If your cat or dog injures a native animal, there are practical ways to help improve its chances of survival.

  • Cover the animal with a towel and place it in an escape-proof box. Place the box in a warm, quiet room and do not disturb it. Don't try to feed, handle or display the animal, as stress of any kind can result in death.
  • Take the injured animal to a veterinarian or contact a wildlife rescue organisation. They will give you expert advice on what to do.
  • If you see an injured animal on the road, stop and assess its condition. If it is safe to do so, move the animal off the road.
  • If the animal recovers, remember that in most cases you will need a licence to keep a wild animal. Check the requirements with your local wildlife authority.
The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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