General Dog Care
Dogs are first and foremost pack animals. They are not solitary loners and they do require mental and physical stimulation to thrive. Right from birth a dog is learning the ways of the world and forming it's own personality. The experiences of a puppy will have a huge bearing on how the dog turns out in later life. As with humans, genetics will play a large role in the dogs character but beyond that, the experience the mother passes on to her puppies will have at least as much and often more influence on how the pup sees the world.
The bond between a mother and her puppies is a great one. Even if the mother has not been particularly good at rearing the puppies, she may even have disowned some of them, the pups will consider their mother to be the be all and end all in their lives. It has to be understood that when we take a pup we will become the most important thing in their lives and we must make sure that the pup receives the care, stimulation and protection that we have denied them from their pack.
If you would like to give your dog a treat they would be perfectly happy with whatever it is you chose to give them - the fact that YOU are giving them a treat should be pleasurable enough and often a hand full of cornflakes or such like is very well appreciated. (Most dogs idea of heaven is either aniseed or cheese but this to should be give very sparingly) It is wise to let your dog have access to some sort of raw-hide based chew at least once a week as this will act as a K-9 toothbrush and will clear the dogs mouth of any debris or tartar. Every so often a knuckle bone will go down well and not only will your dog love you for it, so will their teeth.
Diet All dogs are ancestors of the wolf. All wolves are scavengers. As with many other characteristics the wolf gene is fairly small in some but large in others, but it manifests its self, in some way in all dogs. Why are some dogs greedy? Is it because we don't feed them enough? Are they genuinely hungry?
A wolf pack really does not know were it's next meal is coming from. Sometimes they wont have eaten for days at a time, so every opportunity that comes along will be treated as if it is the last meal for a long time. And after gauging if another feeding opportunity arises straight away they will take it, and some dogs are no different. We know that they are going to get fed at the same time tomorrow, but the dog may have adopted the attitude that today's meal could be the last for a month. If you were to constantly try and satisfy this type of dogs appetite you would almost certainly condemn the dog to an early grave. It is a sad fact that this happens all too often.
Guinea Pig Care
What do guinea pigs need?
- Companionship - to be with other guinea pigs. The widespread practice of keeping guinea pigs and rabbits together is not recommended.
- Feeding twice a day, with a mixture of meadow hay, green stuff, pellets, washed fruit and vegetables.
- A constant supply of fresh, clean drinking water in a drip feed bottle with a metal spout.
- A large weatherproof home kept off the ground, out of direct sunlight and strong winds. It should be moved to an indoor area or porch in cold weather.
- A separate sleeping area for each animal inside the home.
- A clean layer of wood chippings on the floor of their home and plenty of soft hay for bedding and burrowing.
- Daily exercise in a grassy area safe from predators and an indoor run in cold weather.
- Their home to be cleaned every day and bedding changed weekly.
- A gnawing block to wear down long teeth.
- To be brushed every day if they have a long or rough-haired coat.
- Some quiet time alone or with other guinea pigs every day.
- To be taken to a vet if they are ill or injured.
- To be looked after when you are on holiday.
Guinea pigs live for up to seven years.
In the wild, guinea pigs live in close family groups, and it is unkind to keep one guinea pig. Companionship is essential, but two adult guinea pigs that don't know each other may fight, so choose two young littermates of the same sex, a father and son, or mother and daughter. Guinea pigs have a basic need to graze and should have regular access to a grassy area. Guinea pigs also need to have their own sleeping area.
Approach the guinea pig from the front and on its level. Pick it up using both hands, one around the hindquarters,the other around its shoulders (for a young guinea pig) or around its chest (for an adult). Guinea pigs may become upset by too much handling.
The RSPCA strongly advises that you do not breed from your guinea pigs as it is very difficult to find good homes for the young. The best way to ensure that guinea pigs do not breed is to keep males and females apart.
A female guinea pig can produce up to five litters a year from a very young age.
Guinea pigs should be checked regularly for overgrown claws and teeth. Both can be trimmed by a vet.
Too much scratching results from skin problems and is often caused by mites or lice. Your vet can provide suitable treatment for these.
Long-haired guinea pigs in particular may suffer from the potentially fatal disease flystrike, caused by flies laying eggs in soiled fur. Make sure the guinea pigs' home is cleaned every day and bedding changed regularly. Groom guinea pigs every day, checking their fur all over for any dirt, especially under the tail.
If a guinea pig develops bald patches on its face, this could indicate the fungal disease ringworm. Seek veterinary advice straight away.
Guinea pigs can suffer from vitamin C deficiency, which causes weight loss, general weakness and swollen joints. Ask your vet for advice on how to provide your guinea pigs with an adequate supply of this vitamin.
If you have any concerns about your guinea pigs' health, ask your vet for advice.