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May 13, 2011 > Veterinary & Pet News: Pet socialization and entertainment

Veterinary & Pet News: Pet socialization and entertainment

Besides keeping pets healthy, pet owners also need to ensure that their pets are getting adequate stimulation and entertainment for the day. Having a well socialized pet will keep your pet entertained, less destructive, more relaxed in the evenings, and lead to a healthier and happier life.

Being left all alone at home with nothing to do is lonely for just about everyone. It is no surprise that pets left home alone with nothing to do will become bored and misbehave. Dogs may start barking incessantly while cats meow. Other dangerous habits pets can get into include destroying furniture, urinating or defecating in inappropriate places, self mutilation by licking, biting, and scratching neurotically. These problems can happen due to the pet's increased stress and anxiety level when isolated for so many hours of the day. Increased anxiety can result in fearfulness, behavior problems and/or aggression.

Exercise
Providing daily exercise for your pet is both necessary and relaxing. Staying active allows your pet to socialize and playing creates a strong bond between both of you. It also keeps your pet healthy and lean. A minimum of 30 minutes of exercise is recommended daily, although some breeds may need much more.

Toys
The pet industry has created mentally stimulating toys that prevent boredom. Hard nylon-type toys can be stuffed with various treats that are released slowly after the pet has spent some time working on the task. There are other mind stimulating puzzles that release treats at pre-defined time intervals. This keeps your pet busy throughout the day.

Cats love to climb and exercise their claws. Cat furniture with towers and scratching posts are available that stimulate your cat to exercise and engage in daily activity.

Entertainment
Turning on the television or radio while you are away can provide visual and auditory distractions for pets; special DVDs are available. One of my feline patients, Lilo, really enjoys watching a DVD featuring various fish species.

Get a second pet
Get a pet for the pet! I know this may sound like more work, but in many cases getting a second pet provides companionship and socialization. Frequently, pet owners are choosing to purchase two cats or two dogs at the same time so they have each other when human companions are out of the house. Please consult your veterinarian before you decide to embark on this path.

Doggie Day Care
Doggie day care centers are a growing trade that specializes in the care of dogs when pet owners are away at work. These facilities provide daily structured activity for your pets and lots of playing and socialization. Day care centers have been shown to teach dogs how to play appropriately with other dogs, and increase their confidence.

Dogs, by nature, are very social animals thanks to domestication. Allowing dogs to interact with humans and other dogs is important, something all pet owners should encourage.



Dr Raj Salwan is a second generation Veterinarian and has been around Veterinary Medicine for over 24 years. His interests include Internal Medicine, Surgery, Emergency/Acute Care, and general small animal practice. He currently works at American Animal Care in Fremont and can be reached via email at drsalwan@aol.com or www.americananimalcare.com.

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