Reporting animal emergencies & cruelty.

How to report a stray animal emergency, suspected or confirmed cruelty?
There might come a time where you see an injured animal or one in danger and this week we will look at what to do in such a situation. This includes injured animals who appears to be without a caregiver in that moment or animals that appear to be in distress.

When you find an injured, abandoned or stray animal – How to report it?
Your own pet should be taken to your vet immediately.  Withholding medical care from your animals can possibly be reported as cruelty which is punishable by law.

  • Save your local SPCA and welfare organisation’s emergency numbers as well as the areas you frequently travel to.
  • If you find an animal that is abandoned, injured or in danger, please DO NOT LEAVE THEM!
  • Keep calm as the animal can feel your anxiety. Most of the time they are scared and might run away from you.
  • Never chase them as they can get injured further. If it isn’t safe for you nor the animal to approach, then keep an eye on them or follow from a distance until help arrives.
  • Call your nearest SPCA on their emergency number. Call until they answer. Don’t just send a message.  An animal’s life depends on it! They have to attend to sick or injured animals that do not appear to have an owner at the time.
  • Give an exact location. Drop a pin via WhatsApp, of the specific location or at least a specific address. Not just the house behind no 2 Spuy drive! The SPCA or other welfare organisations can’t drive up and down searching for a hurt animal 30 minutes after you sent a message, nor without a proper description. They rarely find the animal and it might be too late.
  • Give a proper description of the animal e.g. a black Labrador with a white patch limping in this area in this direction.
  • If you have a food and water rescue pack in your car, you can put it in a safe area for them. In general, we don’t advise giving food, but sometimes this animal has not had any for days or it can get the animal to come to you.
  • If you can get close or can move them out of harms way, do so and stay with them.
  • If you have something warm close by and they are cold, cover them.
  • Take them to the nearest veterinarian or SPCA if possible, as it will save time. The Vet will handle the emergency and contact the SPCA if needed.
  • If you hit the animal with your car, please do not drive off. Rather lie and say you found them than leave them to suffer and die!
  • Follow up until the animal is safe. You are at that time all they’ve got!

NOTE: Don’t report emergencies through Facebook as it is not monitored 24/7 and precious time could be lost.

Reporting confirmed or suspected cruelty to animals:
It is your moral duty to report cruelty to animals. If you are in doubt, still report it as a welfare check might be in order to confirm.

Cruelty to animals is a crime and is punishable by law!

Most organisations will require some paperwork for this, but it will stay confidential and will not be revealed to the accused.

  1. If it is safe for you to take video or pictures do so.
  2. Get the exact address or pin drop.
  3. Contact your local SPCA.
  4. Assist with the case where possible.

Do you know of an abandoned animal or saw one being dumped?
Abandoning an animal is an act of animal cruelty and an offence in terms of the Animal Protection Act No 71 of 1962. If you see or know of someone who has moved and left their animals behind or who goes away for long periods of time and leave their animals alone or those who dump them somewhere, please report it!

Anyone can open a case of abandonment or cruelty at your nearest SAPS. Even if you think nothing will happen, you are creating a paper trail which could save an animal’s life in the future. You can also contact your local SPCA or other animal welfare organisations for guidance.

Thank you to each of you who are reporting cruelties or animals in distress. You can be the voice for the voiceless!


Source: The Bulletin

Looking for a Welfare?
Search our Welfare Directory!

Looking for a vet?
Search our Veterinary Directory!

Adopting a Pet (Part 1)

Why saving a life though adoption is a great idea!
South Africa is overflowing with unwanted dogs, cats, puppies and kittens, even rabbits, birds and other animals. It’s sad to think that most of these animals in shelters will never experience a loving home and the security of a family they deserve. 

We have a massive overpopulation crisis on our hands because people: 

  • don’t sterilise their pets 
  • actively breeds animals 
  • support breeders/pet shops/animal dealers 
  • don’t take responsibility for their pets 
  • let their animals roam the streets 

The reality is that there are just not enough homes for all the animals. Only 1 out of every 10 dogs born find a forever home and millions of animals are euthanized (put to sleep) every year. More unwanted animals end up as bait dogs/cats/rabbits for dogfighting or get passed from one owner to the other until they eventually, if “lucky” end up in a shelter instead. 

We understand that it seems easier to buy a pet, but let us share with you why buying a pet is part of the problem.  The pet industry in South Africa is not regulated and pet shops do not promote responsible pet ownership (sterilizations, home checks, etc.). They make their profits by promoting IMPULSE BUYING. These animals can also come from a questionable source.

What is Adoption? 
Many animals come in as strays found and other animals are dumped, abandoned or surrendered by their owners. If these animals are not claimed by their owners within the pound period, the shelter has two options namely, euthanize or adoption. Adoption is when you give an animal from a registered rescue organisation/shelter a second chance, as part of your family. You will pay an adoption fee and go through a process of responsible homing.

It is never just about a good home, but rather good placement for that animal! 
There are many BENEFITS to adopting. You not only save a life but will also make resources and space available for the next one to be rescued. If you can do the math, you know you will save money by adopting! Pets are good for our physical and emotional health and adopted ones for the most part are already “trained”. You also help to lighten the load of a shelter that rescues animals and make the rescuers go on for just one more day. 

Image: Rustplaas Dog Shelter

Things to consider before adopting:

  • Are you ready for a pet? 
  • Can you afford pet care in the long term? 
  • Have you researched their specific needs and can you meet these needs? 
  • Does the animal fit your family’s lifestyle?
  • If you live in a townhouse complex, written approval from the body corporate, that pets are allowed, must be obtained.   
  • Municipal By-laws must be adhered to with regards to allowed number of pets.  
  • You may never know their breed, medical history or behavioural history. 
  • You will have to pet-proof your home beforehand. 
  • Get the necessary items for your car and for travel. 
  • You will still need to buy beds, blankets, toys, leashes, deworm every 3 months, vaccinate every year, buy good food every month, this does not even include saving for an emergency!  
  • They need to be spayed/neutered and a form of identification added. 
  • Social animals should not be the only animals in the house.   
  • They might need some training and patients to build trust, more time to adjust and might not get along with all people or animals. 
  • If you think adoption fees are too expensive, then we will advise that you rather not get a pet.  If you do the math a responsible pet owner would do, then you will know that the adoption fee which includes sterilisation and more, is at least half the price you would normally pay for everything which is included and that is excluding the animal itself.  

Image by Best Behaviour now operating as Beyond Behaviour

Rescue is the best breed! We always advise you to go and meet the animals available at your local shelter.  Shelter pets are not broken, they were only failed by humans. Adopting an adult pet can even be better than a puppy. You might just fall in love with one that you never thought of. Choosing the right breed for your lifestyle is however especially important. NEVER MAKE A DECISION based only on a dog’s LOOK or SIZE or BREED etc. The energy level of that animal should fit with that of your family.

If you like a particular breed, there are many different ones up for adoption through breed-specific rescues (e.g. google “Poodle” rescue SA).   Be careful with any organisations that do not do responsible homing which should include sterilisation and a home-check.

Changing a life through adoption is priceless! ADOPT DON’T SHOP!

Next week we will look at how the process for adoption works. 


Source: The Bulletin

Looking to Adopt?
Search our Welfare Directory!

Adopting a Pet (Part 2)

What can you expect during the process of adopting a pet?
The process and policy might differ between organisations. The process usually includes an application form, meet & greet, home check, paying an adoption fee, sign an adoption contract, sterilisation and follow-up. Depending on availability for sterilisation at the Veterinarian or home check schedules, this can be completed in as little as 3 or 4 days. 

Irresponsible homing is not rescue! As there are far too many irresponsible organisations as well as scammers out there, we consider it to be a RESPONSIBLE ADOPTION only when it includes the following:

  • Organisation must be registered and have a clear adoption policy as well transparency and accountability.
  • Must have a comprehensive adoption application.
  • Must do a home check in person. 
  • Must require proof of address and copy of the adopters ID.
  • May not allow adoption for someone else as this is highly irresponsible and no reputable and responsible organisation will do this.
  • Must have an adoption contract which includes sterilisation policy and return policy.
  • Should do follow-up post adoption.
  • Meet and greet with all the family members (humans and animals) is important.
  • We believe adoption fee should include at least, the sterilisation, deworming, first vaccination , microchip and ID collar.

If it is an individual who is “re-homing” their own dogs or their friend’s, then it is not adoption and they are part of the problem by abusing the term ‘adoption’. Selling animals on Facebook goes against their community standard and should be reported to Facebook and the group admins.

Home checks:
This is one of the most important aspects when it comes to the credibility of responsible animal welfare organisations. As a prospective adopter, you do not have to be afraid of a home check!  You might learn some valuable information about being a pet owner or things to look for and so you can help educate others too! You can also build a relationship with a very knowledgeable person which can come in handy in the future. Most organisations will give you time to make the necessary, reasonable changes and still adopt.

Some home check considerations includes:

  • Access to basic needs like food, water and shelter.
  • Fences, swimming pools, neighbour’s animals and surrounding areas.
  • Inspection of the other animals in the home, their general condition as well as their behaviour toward their owners and other animals.
  • Children and their attitude towards the animals.

If an organisation doesn’t do home checks, they are only a pet shop and you are supporting one of the reasons we have a massive overpopulation crisis on our hands.  No matter what they call it!

Organisations get blamed for being too strict when it comes to adoptions. If the process is too ‘hard’ for you, the commitment to the animal for their life will be impossible for you. You must remember that we are responsible for the life of a sentient being, not just an object you buy at the shop and can return or throw away when you are not happy. It is NOT JUST ABOUT A GOOD HOME, BUT ABOUT THE RIGHT PLACEMENT for the animal considering their needs and the availability of resources to meet those needs.

One popular critique is not allowing adoptions when all the animals in the yard are not sterilised. It is a standard practice among reputable rescues to require any existing animals to be sterilised. It is counterintuitive to our mission as rescuers to allow puppies, kittens, or bunnies to be homed where there are unsterilised animals. We would not have this massive overpopulation crisis if people sterilised their pets. It is about responsible pet owners.


  • It may take some time to gain their trust, for them to adjust (3 months at least) and they might be scared at first or for extended periods of time.
  • Even if the bond is instant, you don’t know your pet yet, so take the necessary precautions around other people, children and pets and do not introduce them to everyone at once.
  • The breed should never be blamed for any issues, it is how you handle the situation.  Get some professional help from a trainer if the issues persist.

If you have any concerns or complaints regarding animal welfare organisations please contact THE PAW COMPANY via Facebook.


Source: The Bulletin

Looking to Adopt?
Search our Welfare Directory!

Pets & Microchips

How much do you know about your pet’s microchip?
When your pet goes missing, you can drastically improve the chances of being reunited with them, by having them microchipped!

Some sources suggest that 1 in 3 pets will go missing at some point during their life. Studies suggest that dogs with microchips were twice as likely to be reunited with their owners as those without and cats a whopping 21 times more likely.

Shockingly more than 50% of owners do not know much about their pet’s microchip and how it works. Many do not even know whether and where it is registered

Microchips are rice grain-sized, safe and hurts no more than any inoculation. The procedure can be done by a Veterinarian, a qualified animal welfare worker or a registered microchip service provider representative.

A responsible Veterinarian will scan for the microchip before any other procedure is done. They should scan the whole body if the chip is not found immediately. Just in case it migrated.  It is important that animals be scanned at their yearly check-ups as well as, before moving or possible traumatic events (thunderstorms or festive times when fireworks can be expected) to ensure that their chips still work. 

When choosing a provider, apart from research on the microchip, providers and their platforms, you can also ask your Vet and local shelters which one is commonly used in your area or can easily be scanned by local shelters or Vet’s scanners.  Always choose an anti-migrating microchip.  

Microchips are not as expensive as people think. Prices can vary from R180 at some SPCA’s to R450 at a Veterinarian. Divide even the most expensive ones by 10 years, it is only R45 a year for peace of mind and double the chance of your pet being reunited with you after being lost. That is money well spent! 

Some countries use different frequency microchips. So, if you are travelling abroad or emigrating with your pet, make sure you check this!

The important part after microchipping – REGISTRATION! 
No one else, but you are responsible to make sure the microchip is registered after the procedure.  A microchip is not a GPS and only stores an identification number.  If this is not linked to your information on a database, it is useless!  The Vet or service providers do not do this automatically.   

You should be able to register any brand of microchip across multiple registries/databases/platforms and in most cases it is free. Registries are however not required to share owner information, so if a Vet or shelter does not search on all databases, they might not find the owner. Owners must ensure their pets are registered across all platforms.  

Details required by platforms can include Pet details, medical information, owner details, medical insurance details, breeder details, photo, second/third contact person, your Veterinarian’s contact details, injector’s ID number or practice number. Make sure you have these details prior to avoid frustration or delay or incomplete info when registering. Add a photo on all databases which has this feature and make sure it appears in the search.  

Some of the popular databases in SA include: 

Virbac (backhome), Identipet, GetMeKnown, FivestarID, Petlookup, KUSA and others. The two main search platforms we use are Chip-n-Doodle and Animal Microchip Lookup Africa (AMLA).  

EXAMPLE: We have 3 pets. 2 with Identipet and 1 with Fivestar chips. They are registered on GetMeKnown, Virbac – BackHome, FivestarID and Identipet platforms. If we search for them on Chip-n-Doodle then it shows “found” under FivestarID and GetMeKnown only. If we search for them on Animal Microchip Lookup Africa they are “found” under Idetipet and Vibrac. Make sure you are registered on at least one of each of these search facilities. 

You can download a certificate op registration from all sites to keep it safe.

What about a collar ID?
A collar with a tag, in addition to the microchip, is advisable. An ID collar might get your pet home faster, so never underestimate its value, however, a collar ID can fall off or be removed by animal thieves. We only prefer an updated contact number without the pets’ names on the tag, for safety reasons.  Cats should have break-away collars to prevent them from getting stuck or injured.

IMPORTANT! Microchip your pets, register their chips on a few databases and keep the information up-to-date! 


Source: The Bulletin

Looking for a vet?
Search our Veterinary Directory!

Looking for a Welfare?
Search our Welfare Directory!

Holiday tips for Pet Owners who care

Image: Pixabay

Safety Tips to Consider for YOUR Animals during the Holidays
The holiday is just around the corner and many people who go away, either take their animals with them or leave them behind.  Either way you need to plan and take safety precautions for all your animals.

Whether at home or with you on holiday, make sure your animals are up-to-date with all vaccinations, deworming, tick and flea treatments. Micro-chip your pet and make sure it is registered on multiple databases and working, before you leave as well as include a collar ID. Make sure your plan for your animals is clearly stated in your will.

Leaving your Pets at Home
Pet sitters can be a good option when you need someone to care for your pet while you’re away.  Animals should never be left alone, in my opinion, for more than even 12 hours.

  • Do your homework on the pet sitter by getting trusted references from people you know. It is important that your pet also gets along with this person. Book in time as pet sitters are booked well in advance for holidays. Look for ones that have completed special training, like behaviour or pet first aid.
  • It is your responsibility to ensure things go smoothly, so provide detailed instructions regarding feeding, medications, emergency contacts and other important information. Provide easily accessible and sufficient supplies including their food, grooming, toys, leashes, carriers or cleaning supplies in case of an accident.
  • Always have a backup plan (person) in place. List your pet sitter at your veterinarian, inform your vet you are away and provide a backup person to contact or to make decisions if you can’t be reached.
  • Properly pet-proof your home and escape-proof your yard because bored and lonely pets may get into more trouble than usual.

Taking your Pets with you on Holiday
If you’re planning on taking your pet with you on holiday, it’s important to honestly assess how stressed your dog or cat might be away from home and whether it’s a risk worth taking.  Plan the trip well!   

  • Travel safety! You shouldn’t allow your dog to ride unrestrained. A crate or safety harness (not a collar) can be used to restrain your pet in the car, but be sure that it has been crash-test certified for safety.
  • Never leave your pet unattended in a vehicle!
  • Plan extra time for pit stops for them to stretch their legs and relieve themselves. Plan to have clean up supplies on hand, along with your dog’s leash and harness, water bowl and fresh water to drink (preferably water from home which they are used to).
  • Be sure to plan meal times.  Ideally, feed your dog in the morning before you leave (some suggest about 3 hours before) and again at night once you’ve settled into your hotel. If you’ll be stopping to eat along the way, plan to do so at a location where your pet can accompany you.
  • When traveling with your pet, you’ll need to bring all necessities, including items like poop bags and food bowls, water, medication, grooming kit, but don’t forget to also pack some of your dog’s favourite toys, blankets and, depending on size, even his bed to remind him of home.
  • You should also make sure your dog is wearing a collar with a current ID tag at all times and pack a pet first aid kit in the event of an emergency. A recent photo on your phone or printed out is also recommended, in the event you become separated. Write down the numbers of emergency vet services along your route for in case.  
  • Remember the vaccination cards!

Keeping your Pets SAFE around the Pool, Lakes & the Beach 

  • Always supervise swims as not all pets are good swimmers.
  • Invest in a pet life jacket.
  • Rinse them off with clean water post-swim, removing chlorine, salt or bacteria. 
  • Avoid wet collars to prevent hot-spots.
  • Ears should be cleaned and dried after a swim.
  • Look out for the signs of heat stroke and provide cool shade areas as well as cool, fresh drinking water at all times.
  • Use animal-safe sunscreen for breeds who are prone to sunburn.
  • Learn pet CPR for an emergency.

Other dangers around water may include: Parasites and bacteria, water intoxication, salt water, seaweed, sand impaction, hot surfaces, picnic foods & foreign bodies, fishing hooks etc.

If you intend to bring your dog on the boat with you, remember a life jacket, sunscreen, fresh drinking water, providing shade, a leash, proper identification, have potty breaks, have a first aid kit and pay attention!

Taking your Pets on a Hike or Camping?

  • Make sure your dog has an up-to-date ID tag or collar. The fastest way for someone who finds your dog to get her back to you is to call the number on her ID tag.
  • Your dog will need frequent water breaks along the trail, so be prepared with a lightweight, collapsible travel bowl or a simple plastic container and plenty of fresh water. Stop often to offer her a drink, and especially if she’s panting a lot. Keeping her well-hydrated will also prevent her from drinking from a stagnant water source, which can harbor all kinds of pathogenic bacteria and parasites.
  • You’ll want to pack a few healthy snacks to feed her along the way as well, and don’t forget dog poop bags, especially if you’ll be hiking on heavily travelled trails. 
  • Remember a first aid kit with essential emergency items like gauze, scissors, or tape. 
  • Don’t forget your cell phone.
  • An emergency dog sling can be helpful when in remote areas.
  • Don’t let your pet chase wildlife as both can get injured.
  • If you are camping, make sure they are not cold, but also safe from camping hazards like fire.

pet Image by Helge Ely from Pixabay

Whether your pet is joining you on your holiday or you leave them home with supervision, it remains your responsibility to make sure they are ok!


Source: The Bulletin

Are you Dressed to Kill or Do you Kill to Dress?

Wear it Kind – Image by Four Paws

Your Guide to wear it kind because together we can Fix Fashion and Prevent Animal Cruelty.
Animal cruelty comes in many forms and you might, unknowingly, be contributing to it by supporting certain practices, industries, buying certain beauty products or certain clothing items. With so many animal-friendly options available, and more on the market every day, it’s never been easier to have a cruelty-free wardrobe.

In 5 Simple Steps you can make a World of Difference! (by FOUR PAWS)

  1. Look for more sustainable plant-based fibres like organic or recycled cotton and hemp – these fabrics are gentle on the planet and can be found in so many fashion items.
  2. Go for products made from waste! Discarded fishing nets, plastic bottles, recycled polyester, and even used coffee grinds are being made into versatile, durable and luxurious fabrics turning one of the world’s greatest problems – consumer waste – into one of its best solutions!
  3. Love pre-loved! Wearing it Kind doesn’t have to break the bank. Try the 80:20 rule – 80% pre-loved and 20% new and kind.
  4. Be a protector of oceans, rivers, and lakes every time you wash! Use a washing bag in your machine to capture nasty microfibres and put a stop to harmful microplastic pollution.
  5. Speak up! Already have a favourite brand you wish was doing more? Let them know! Your voice may be just the motivation they need to make their products better for animals, people, and the planet.

Let’s look at some Items in YOUR Wardrobe:

Outdoor & Active wear:
More people are wearing outdoor and activewear than ever before but, while it may be practical and super comfortable for us, it can have disastrous impacts on animals and the environment. That is unless we Wear it Kind. By choosing recycled plastic, you’ll not only look fabulous, but you’ll also feel fabulous in the knowledge that you’re helping to clean up our oceans and earth! 

Look for items made from recycled plastics like Econyl – a warm, adaptable, and innovative product made entirely from the ocean and landfill waste! It’s made by recycling industrial plastic, fabric scraps, and discarded or lost fishing nets. Once abandoned at sea, these ‘ghost nets,’ last indefinitely, trapping and killing animals such as turtles and dolphins.

Coats & Knitwear:
Recycled polyester, hemp, and organic or recycled cotton are great options here. If you want the look and feel of cashmere, but without the cruelty, go no further than vegetable cashmere, a revolutionary product made from soy pulp, a by-product of tofu production.

For those choosing to continue to wear wool, at minimum ensure it is mulesed wool-free and don’t forget what’s inside the coat, Primaloft® is a great alternative to down for keeping you warm!

Mulesing is a cruel practice in which lambs have large strips of skin cut away from their buttocks without necessary pain relief. For a long time, this happened because of the (wrong) assumption that a sheep produces more wool if it has more skin folds. Check out the Brands Against Mulesing list to see which brands are taking a stand against mulesing.

Wear it Kind – Image by Four Paws

Shoes, Belts & Handbags:
The range of animal-friendly leather alternatives on the market is growing all the time, here are just a few of the fantastic plant-based options now available.

  • Piñatex is a durable, leather-look product made using pineapple leaves. Developed in Italy, this material is growing in popularity with designers, retailers, and customers alike and, in 2019, department store H&M released a range of boots and jackets using Pinatex and other sustainable materials.
  • Apple leather – another innovative product to hit the market. Made from the leftovers from apple harvesting, apple leather is strong, hypoallergenic and 100% biodegradable.
  • Mushroom, or mycelium, leather is another new kid on the block that could be set to change the future of fashion. While it’s a relatively new technology, prototype mycelium leather bags, belts and other accessories were released in 2019 and we could soon see a lot more of them.
  • For coffee lovers, there could soon be another way to enjoy the bean we love so much! Pioneered by a German company, Nat-2, coffee leather will turn a waste product from the global coffee market into a versatile and sustainable alternative to animal leather.
  • Cork is another more sustainable alternative that not only looks great and performs well but is gentle on the earth. It’s no surprise that a growing number of brands are turning to cork for their designs and more of it is appearing on our shelves.

And this is just the beginning of an ever-expanding list! With more humane alternatives reaching the market all the time, keep a look out for leather made from coconuts, cactus, and teak leaves, just to name a few.

Wear it kind – Image by Four Paws

Basics & Warm Weather:

  • Linen has long been an ethical choice for the fashion-conscious. It has strong sustainability credentials and, unlike many clothes available in stores today, it can be worn time and time again and still look great!
  • Lyocell and modal fabrics, generally known by the brand name Tencel, are a newer alternative. Made by processing wood pulp, lyocell and model fabrics are super soft and resist wrinkling.
  • Microsilk is a revolutionary product that captures the unique properties of silk without harm to any animal. By studying the way spiders spin silk fibres, Bolt Threads, the creators of Microsilk, have imitated nature to create stunning fabrics favoured by ethical fashion designers such as Stella McCartney.
  • When looking for hats that offer sun protection while looking great with any outfit, look no further than jute, straw, and organic cotton. These three materials are versatile, durable, and kind to the plant.

Find brands that are kind to all living beings via our friends at the brand rating platform Good On You.

The demand for ethical fashion is higher than ever! Animal-friendly fashion helps us to #LiveKinder, because we don’t need to harm animals to look good. You can help, by taking our pledge and demonstrate the huge support for animal-friendly and sustainable fashion! Will you WEAR IT KIND? You can sign the pledge here


Source: The Bulletin & Four Paws

Pet Health checks at home can improve your pet’s life!

Pet Health checks at home can improve your pet's life!

Health checks – Image by The Paw Company

Regular Health checks on our pets between Vet visits is a proactive tool for their well-being.
Our pets might get sick or injured and need veterinary care, but we can also add many tools to our toolbox, like health checks at home, to help prevent conditions from occurring in the first place or manage them better to allow our pets to live long and happy lives. Being informed and understanding what illnesses and conditions our pets might face is key to longevity. It is important to do regular health checks on your pets by inspecting their body from head to toe every week and making notes. 

I fully support annual or even bi-annual health checks at your vet, including blood work. Our pets age faster than we do, so their bodies are rapidly changing. When they reach their senior years, a health check is recommended every six months instead of annually to ensure the detection of illnesses and make them easier to treat. Between visits, you can keep a close eye on your pet’s health by conducting an at-home physical exam (demo video). Physical “inspection” touch regularly with some positive re-enforcement can also help make that vet visits more comfortable.


  • Behaviour
  • Body condition
  • Skin & coat
  • Eyes & ears
  • Nails & paws
  • Nose & mouth
  • Stool check
  • Vitals (heart rate, breathing, body temperature etc.)
  • Weigh your pet and review their diet

This is an overall examination of your pet by feeling around the body, limbs and tail for any potential problems. When you feel over your pet’s body, you should be able to feel their ribs, but it should not be sticking out or under a large layer of fat.  Feel for lumps, bumps or injuries.  You can also observe their body language and whether they appear lethargic, depressed or in pain.  Body language can tell you a great deal about how they are feeling.

You can lift their lips and have a good look at their teeth and gums. Check for:

  • Broken or missing teeth
  • Sores or mouth and tongue injuries
  • Red and swollen gums
  • Stinky breath
  • Bloody gums
  • Tartar or plaque build-up

Feel over your pet’s fur and skin and look at its appearance. Check for:

  • Tick or fleas
  • Dull and hard or thinning coat
  • Skin lesions, sores, red patches, itchiness, bald patches or scabs

Their ears should be clean with no foul smells coming from the ear.  Check for:

  • Shaking head or holding the head tilted to one side
  • Rubbing ears against objects like furniture
  • Abnormal earwax other than yellow/brownish
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Ear mites

A wet nose is normal, but a dry nose might not be totally abnormal. Check for:

  • Crusting
  • Discharge
  • Wheezing sounds
  • Cracking of the skin

Eyes should be bright and clear.  Check for:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Abnormal blinking
  • Inflamed or swollen eyelids
  • White spots in the eyes
  • Any debris or objects
  • Puss or discharge

Although what your pet eats and drinks can influence the appearance of the faeces, their stool can give an indication of their general health.  I do almost daily poop-patrol so I can pick up if something is wrong. It should be looked at within context and not as a diagnostic tool on its own. Check for:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Blood or mucus
  • Signs of worms
  • The urine should be clear, yellow with no blood

Watch this video for more on what their poop might mean.

The following are red flag symptoms that should never be ignored.  Consult with your veterinarian as soon as possible.

  • Fainting, collapsing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Trouble urinating
  • Pacing, restlessness, unproductive retching
  • Lethargy, extreme fatigue
  • Bloody diarrhoea, urine, vomit
  • Loss of appetite, weight loss
  • Coughing
  • Fever
  • Red eye(s)
Pet Health checks at home can improve your pet's life!

Health checks red flag symptoms – Image by Dr. Karen Becker

Three pillars that form the foundation for your pet’s health, quality of life and longevity include:

  1. Species-appropriate nutrition
  2. A balanced, functional immune system
  3. A sound, resilient frame

Small changes make a huge difference to your pet’s life, and they are easy to do. Here are a few simple tips:

  • Keep your pet’s weight maintained and feed a balanced, nutritious and species-appropriate diet.
  • Do weekly health checks.
  • Regular grooming, nail trims and claw care, especially for older pets.
  • Exercise at the pace set by your pet.
  • Keeping on top of vaccination, tick, flea and worm treatments. Work with a veterinarian who titers rather than just re-vaccinates.

Important note: Please make sure that your vet and their staff are actually qualified.  Just because they wear scrubs does not make them qualified! Do your homework well. Asking animal welfare organizations which vets they trust is a good start! If you are aware of any staff performing veterinary work without being registered at the SA Veterinary Council, please report this to The Paw Company or the SAVC.

Your pets are your responsibility and withholding necessary medical care, is considered neglect and a case of animal cruelty can be opened against you. Please report any neglect or suspected cruelty to your nearest SPCA or the NSPCA. Don’t ask advice from unqualified people on the internet or Dr. Google. We have seen some terrible advice being dished out which could endanger your pet. 

Do regular health checks on your pet and when in doubt, always go to your trusted vet! By helping your pet lead a healthy lifestyle and seeking proactive preventive veterinary care, you can minimize healthcare costs while maximizing longevity.


Source: The Bulletin

You need to make time to learn about your pets and their needs!

You need to make time to learn about your pets and their needs!

Image: Pixabay

Education is KEY to helping animals and their owners and for changing animal welfare in the world!
Sadly, most people don’t spend nearly enough time educating themselves on how to improve their pets’ lives or how to help other animals or animal welfare organizations.

Since many are still enjoying the holidays, here is a reminder on how to prioritize SAFETY for your pets during the holidays. Many people are already on holiday and others are getting ready.  Whether you are staying home or going away, remember that the busy holidays and travelling can be stressful and cause anxiety for your pets and their safety is your responsibility.

MICROCHIP YOU PETS – Before you do anything, I suggest you make sure your pets are microchipped, the microchip is registered on multiple databases and is in working order. 

ESCAPE PROOF YOUR YARD – If you are away and you are leaving your pets behind with a responsible pet sitter, you still need to make sure your yard is extra secure.  There are constantly pets in the streets and this holds many dangers in a cruel world. We understand that accidents happen and some animals are really escape artists, but one of a few reasons why animals get out is because IT IS EASY! You get climbers, runners, jumpers, diggers, chewers, some learn to open gates or some pets use a combination of the above.

TRAVEL WITH PETS – Travelling with your animal family members can create wonderful memories, but it’s not always easy. Make sure you’re well-prepared before you hit the road. There are many things to consider before you take your pet on a road trip, including the temperament, size & safety of your pet.

EASTER PET HAZARDS (by Dr. Karen Becker)

EASTER is around the corner and with Easter comes family gatherings, chocolate, Easter egg hunts and gifts. Please don’t use this occasion to give your children chicks and rabbits just because they asked for them and think that they look “cute.” Pet ownership is a huge commitment and responsibility and it’s not something that should be done on impulse. In addition, Easter, like every holiday, involves potential hazards for your pets, that every pet parent should be aware of, so make sure your pets avoid Easter goodies and decorations to avoid unexpected heartaches.


A new year brings new goals, renewed hope and 365 days of opportunity for you and your pet to bond, develop healthier habits and discover new ways to live a full life. An important first step is to avoid becoming overwhelmed thinking you need to make big changes overnight. The important thing is to make a plan and move steadily forward.

Image by The Paw Company

Included in your pet new years resolutions should be regular HEALTH CHECKS. Our pets might get sick or injured and need veterinary care, but we can also add many tools to our toolbox, like health checks at home, to help prevent conditions from occurring in the first place or manage them better to allow our pets to live long and happy lives. Being informed and understanding what illnesses and conditions our pets might face is key to longevity. It is important to do regular health checks on your pets by inspecting their body from head to toe every week and making notes. 

Between vet visits, you can keep a close eye on your pet’s health by conducting an at-home physical exam. Physical “inspection” touch with some positive re-enforcement on a regular basis can also help make vet visits more comfortable.


  • Behaviour
  • Body condition
  • Skin & coat
  • Eyes & ears
  • Nails & paws
  • Nose & mouth
  • Stool check
  • Vitals (heart rate, breathing, body temperature etc.)
  • Weigh your pet and review their diet

There is always an increase in lost and injured pets after stormy weather or fireworks. In many cases, it is the same animals that are out in the streets and it is PREVENTABLE! Creating an environment that is free from fear and distress is essential for their well-being. Not only is it important to provide them with the necessary physical comforts and to ensure that their mental health is taken into consideration, it is your moral duty.

Noise phobia is a reality and many cats, dogs and other animals can suffer from it.  The good news is that you can do something about it if you care enough for those animals. I understand that we can’t control the weather, but you can do a lot to help them cope better with weather or other noise phobias.

You need to make time to learn about your pets and their needs!

Image by Dr. Karen Becker

Dogs are social animals and have a wide range of natural behaviours. These behaviours are instinctive and are used to communicate with other dogs and humans. Common natural behaviours in dogs include barking, digging, chasing and chewing. Dogs also display behaviours such as jumping, licking, marking and play-bowing. These behaviours are all natural and help dogs to interact with their environment and with other animals. It is a way to communicate with those who are willing to listen!

What may look like naughty behaviour to you is often just your pet behaving as their species do. There can also be breed-specific traits which are not their fault, like Terriers that dig and will likely always dig!Do you want to better understand your dog and improve your relationship?  Then learn about their behaviour.  When you know what is natural behaviour you can easily know which “naughty” behaviour to address. One of the five freedoms of animal welfare includes the freedom to express natural behaviours! Read more about some natural behaviours here.

Aggressive behaviour is probably the most common behavioural problem in dogs seen by behaviour professionals and the most dangerous one seen in companion dogs.  Many behaviours that people perceive as aggressive are actually normal forms of communication. Behaviour is a common reasons why people surrender animals, especially dogs to shelters and aggression is one of them. The lack of understanding of basic and normal animal behaviour remains part of the problem!

Dogs, just like people have unique personalities and energy levels (mentally & physically) and it can affect the way your dog responds to you. Dogs that have a lot more energy than their humans often don’t get enough exercise. This is why it’s very important to know your energy level, understand how to determine the dog/pet’s energy level and then choose the right fit for your family taken into account your lifestyle routines too.

Dogtime shares how high-energy dogs are those who are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as a retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. Low-energy dogs on the other hand are the canine equivalent of a human couch potato, content to doze the day away.

Energy levels matter because if you can’t meet that animals’ needs, then it will cause frustration for you and in return the animal pays a price too.

Most animals use body language as well as sound and smell to communicate with one another.  Body language is the movements of animals’ including facial expressions, eye behaviour, posture, and the movement of their body parts and is inherent in all creatures including humans. When we understand body language, we can better understand our pets and meet their needs which will deepen our relationship. Dog bites and fights can also be prevented by better understanding and predicting behaviour.

You need to make time to learn about your pets and their needs!

Image: Pixabay

Many people think that it is easy to ‘read’ their dog, but there are so many subtle signs that are missed. Decoding your pet or another pet’s body language is not as straightforward as looking at a tail wag or the ears. For one, many of these gestures happen at once and context is important too. On top of that, a breeds’ physical appearance can make it even more difficult.

Your pets are your responsibility. You need to know how to meet their needs and give them the best possible life. If you can no longer care for them, please surrender them to the SPCA or a reputable animal welfare organization. If you can’t afford to properly care for them or have the time to meet their needs, then don’t get them.


Source: The Bulletin

Missing pet guidelines

Image: Pixabay

What can you do to find your missing pet?
Missing pets are shared on social media daily and it is a rising concern for us in animal welfare. There are so many animals in the streets and although there are some exceptions, most of them are shockingly allowed outside by their owners, including cats. We can share horror stories on why this is dangerous and irresponsible and how many never came home. How the one you thought was “streetwise” was hit by a car or the one you say “knows his way home”, stopped returning home.  If you think the streets are unsafe for your child, why would it be safe for your pets?

When your pets roam the streets, they also become a nuisance to others and sadly the cruelty against animals increases because of this e.g. poisoning and shootings. Other dangers include being attacked by animals or humans or stolen for dog fights, re-selling or breeding and more. That is apart from the dangers of cold nights which seem to be here already! Millions of animals enter shelters every year in mainly three ways:  Surrendered by owners, confiscated legally from owners, or brought in as strays by good samaritans.

Why do animals engage in this behaviour?

  1. Trying to get home – have you recently moved?
  2. Your dog’s habit
  3. Mating
  4. Loneliness & boredom
  5. Your dog is scared & had a fright
  6. Something excites them
  7. It’s easy to get out

The above can be addressed or prevented by:

  • Create a safe, secure and familiar environment.
  • Meet their needs with exercise and enrichment.
  • Spay/neuter your pets.
  • Don’t leave them alone for too long, especially social animals.
  • Some behaviour might require training and patience.
  • Teach them not to go out of the yard without you, even if the gate is open.
  • There are many ways to keep your cats safe in your yard.  This includes PVC roller bars, angled fences, catios and more.

TIP for in case they get lost – make sure you have a good full body photo of your pet to share when they are lost.  You can even make a flyer in advance. Microchip them (collar ID too) and register the microchip on more than one database with up-to-date details.

Image: The Paw Company


  • Share a clear full body picture (preferably only one because of how it might appear groups and timelines)
  • Share this post on your personal profile with the privacy setting on public. Include a photo, sex of pet details, specific identifying marks, the area lost, the date, during which time frame and a contact number (another alternative number is even better).
  • Don’t put these details in the comments, but everything in the original post.
  • Then share that post to all groups and pages. Now people can share it out from private groups, which can’t be done otherwise and you only have one post to follow and to update.
  • Always comment on and share the original post from social media as well as UPDATE the post if FOUND.
  • Messenger is not an ideal place to be contacted due to message request not being a formal notification for non-friends. We have lost so much time, not getting in touch with these people. I, for one, do not mind sharing my number on Facebook when the life of my fur-kid is at stake. It is a priority to me.
  • Please take recent photos of your pets. As someone who loves animals, I don’t get how people don’t have any photos of their missing pets or they use old ones which does not even look as much like the pet now.


  • Act immediately and start searching as soon as you realize your pet is lost.
  • Share on your local social media pages or groups & neighbourhood watch.
  • Contact other local welfare organizations.
  • Drive around in your area, put posters up, hand out flyers, and search manholes or other hiding spaces.
  • Ask neighbours if you can search on their property.
  • Keep your phone charged.
  • Re-check spots.
  • Contact your local Vets to see if an animal has been brought in hurt or deceased.
  • Don’t give up. Some pets were reunited with their owners after months and even years.
  • Vary your search times. Try and call for pets at night as sound travels further. Cats are more active at night, while dogs might be more during the day.
  • Some suggest putting out cats’ litter boxes or pets’ blankets as scent could help them find their way home.
  • If your cat is used to being outside or your pet is missing for more days, expand your search radius.
  • You can offer a reward, but keep in mind it does create a future incentive for pet theft so it is not ideal.
  • Birds tend to fly when their adrenaline levels are high. They generally fly up to the highest point they can land. Most pet birds today have never fully fledged, so larger parrots require more skill to be able to take off, land, navigate where they want to go, or climb down. You will have to wait until the bird is ready to come down.
  • Phone your local SPCA and send them an email with a picture & detailed description. Remember they have many animals coming in daily and various volunteers, so it is still best to visit them in person and multiple times. They may not advertise the animal in the first 5-day pound period.
  • Continue to follow up with the SPCA and other organizations as well as continue to share the original post again.

We would like to see one formal lost & found group for Secunda instead of all the separate groups created by the public. The groups I focus on include:


Source: The Bulletin

Are you a responsible pet owner

Image: Pixabay

A useful guide to see whether you meet the criteria of a responsible pet owner.
Have you cleaned your pet’s kennel or cage today or their water and food bowl? Have you made sure to feed them and provide fresh clean drinking water before eating yourself? Have you made the effort to say hello to them today? Your animals never really got a choice as to where they end up. You chose to have them and taking care of them and meeting their every need is not something optional for responsible pet guardians. It is a privilege to share your life with an animal companion and this responsibility should not be taken lightly. We make time for things that are a priority to us… excuses!

Before you even get any species of animal, you need to do proper homework on their needs and the cost involved.  In addition to meeting your pet’s basic needs like food, water, shelter, health and basic care, there are some extremely important rules of responsible pet ownership you need to know about to keep your pet in good health and enjoying life.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) lists six areas of responsible pet ownership, including commitment, investment, obeying local ordinances, ensuring your dog is properly identified, limiting his or her reproduction, and preparing for emergencies and other life-changing events.


  • Avoid impulsive decisions when selecting a dog.
  • Select a dog that’s suited to your home and lifestyle.
  • Provide appropriate exercise and mental stimulation.
  • Properly socialize and train your dog.
  • Commit to the relationship for the life of your dog(s).
  • Keep only the type and number of dogs for which you can provide appropriate food, water, shelter, health care and companionship.


  • Recognize that dog ownership requires an investment of time and money.
  • Make sure your dog receives preventive health care as well as care for any illnesses or injuries.
  • Budget for potential emergencies.


  • Clean up after your dog.
  • Obey all local ordinances, including licensing, leash requirements and noise control.
  • Don’t allow your dog to stray.


  • Make sure your dog is properly identified (i.e., tags, microchips, or tattoos) and keep the registration up-to-date.


  • Don’t contribute to the dog overpopulation problem: limit your dog’s reproduction through sterilization, containment, or managed breeding (The Paw Company does not support any breeding while there is a massive overpopulation crisis).


  • Prepare for an emergency or disaster, including assembling an evacuation kit.
  • Make alternate arrangements if you can no longer provide care for your dog.
  • Recognize any decline in your dog’s quality of life and make timely decisions in consultation with a veterinarian.


You are responsible for ensuring that your pet has:

  • the opportunity to express their natural behaviour;
  • healthy diet and access to fresh water;
  • a comfortable resting place;
  • regular exercise;
  • protection from stress, illness, and injury.


You are responsible for ensuring that your pet gets:

  • annual vaccinations;
  • regular preventative parasitic treatment;
  • annual/general health checks;
  • nail clipping, dental checks and grooming;
  • vet consultation when your pet is sick/injured.


You are responsible for ensuring that your pet:

  • understands basic commands;
  • is socialized well to cope with life (other pets, people, children, noises);
  • receives behavioural training, when necessary, from a reputable behaviourist;
  • receives reward-based training and not punishment-based training;
  • receives mental stimulation through training and enrichment.


You are responsible for ensuring that your pet:

  • is microchipped and the details are kept up to date on the microchip database;
  • is kept on a leash and under control in public places;
  • does not leave any waste that is not picked up;
  • does not bother wildlife or farm animals;
  • has pet insurance or funds for emergencies;
  • is kept according to legislation;
  • does not bother people (bikers, joggers, etc.);
  • is not aggressive toward other pets.


How well do you score on our basic responsible owner test? Give yourself one point out of 10 for each yes answer.

  1. Can you commit for their whole life and do they fit your lifestyle?
  2. Are your pet’s vaccinations, worm and parasite treatment up-to-date?
  3. Do you know and are you obeying the local laws on having pets?
  4. Are your pets sterilized?
  5. Are your pets safe and secure in your yard and not allowed to roam the street freely?
  6. Are your pets microchipped and the chip registered and do they have a collar ID?
  7. Are they on healthy weight?
  8. Do you meet the enrichment needs for your pets, including, social, mental stimulation and regular exercise?
  9. Does your pets have access to fresh drinking water daily and do they get the right specie appropriate food?
  10. Are you prepared for an emergency and for when something happens to you – are they included in your will?

Being a responsible pet parent is about more than just these 10 points.  It also means learning to pick up on your pets’ often-subtle communication cues, as well as helping your pet learn human communication signals through proper handling, socialization and training. Being a responsible pet guardian is a privilege, with responsibility and a serious commitment that takes time and energy. Commit fully, or don’t get a pet! It is that simple!


Source: The Bulletin