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  LiveWire / Teen Forums / Animals & The Environment / Viewing Topic

Animals & The Environment FAQ
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Replies: 22Last Post April 19, 2010 4:49am by Spice
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In this FAQ we hope to cover any commonly asked questions about keeping animals, whether it's cats and dogs or more exotic species like iguanas and fennec foxes. If you have a question that we haven't covered, or know the answer to a question that isn't currently posed drop me a PM by clicking here, or RachLeigh12. And we'll get it added into the FAQ giving credit to you. :)

General Guidelines

Useful Topics/Links

International Fund for Animal Welfare
What Your Vets Won't Tell You
Recycle Now (UK)
USA Recycle (USA)

Frequently Asked Questions And Information On Animals

What pet is right for me?
Where should I go to buy my pet?
Before you take your pet home
Once your pet is home
Different Methods Of Learning
How often should I groom my pet, and what is a good way to do it?
Should I have my cat declawed?
Must haves for small, or caged pets
Do pit bulls have locking jaws?
How do I prevent fleas and ticks?
How Much Does It Cost To Keep A Horse?

Frequently Asked Questions And Information On The Environment

What is Global Warming?
What can I recycle?
Where/How can I recycle, and why should I?
I've heard of Sustainable Development, what is that exactly?
What energy saving products are available?
How can I reduce air pollution?
How can I reduce my energy consumption?
What is Green Travel?
Reusing things
How can I make my home more eco friendly?

Post edited at 4:43 am on April 19, 2010 by Spice

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Animals & The Environment: General Guidelines

  • Although not strictly a support forum, insensitive replies WILL be removed.
  • If you don't know what advice to give, don't give any.
  • If advice is not strictly your own, please cite the source to give adequate credit.

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    What pet is right for me?

    You have decided that you want an animal to look after, most likely you already have a preference as to what species you want. Whether that's a cat, dog, hamster, iguana, tarantula or snake (etc). You need to work out if you have enough room for a large animal, or enough time exercising and entertaining the animal. Cats need entertaining as kittens, and dogs need regular walks. Snakes need special lighting, and fish need different types of water.

    The next step is usually the breed of animal you would like, that can dictate how small it stays or how big it gets. Also can be useful to know what grooming equipment you may need. Be aware of other animals in the house, or even neighbourhood and the laws that apply to your area of residence. In some places in America for example you can have a big cat, in others you can't.

    If you are even thinking of owning a pet, make sure you have the space, time and money to be able to look after it properly.

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    Where should I go to buy my pet?

    The most common places to get pets from are pet stores, breeders, friends, newspaper/online ads and shelters. It often depends on what you are looking for as to which is the best place to get your pet from. Your budget can also determine what is best for you.

    Be careful when you are buying from a pet store, you do not know the animals history and just because it's cheaper it doesn't mean it's any better for you. It's often better to stretch your budget a little more to have it from an individual than a company. The pet then often stays with its mother until it's ready or re-homed, and in the case of buying from a breeder you can see its parents and you are given all relevant papers. They also generally cover the first round of vaccinations and it is more common for them to microchip them (included in sale price, generally).

    Shelters aren't bad places to get a pet from, you just need to be aware that the animal may have something wrong with it, behaviourally and that you need to take the time to re-train the animal. Often this is done by the animal care workers so that aggressive animals aren't being sold on. This is also a good option if you want to skip the kitten/puppy stage.

    Be sure to do your research from whoever or wherever you are buying a pet from. Don't always take anything at face value. Be prepared for breeders and sometimes shelters to check that your home is adequate for the animal you are looking to purchase. Many people in this field want the animals they have cared for to go onto good homes. They aren't targeting you, it's just often common practice.

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    Before you take your pet home

    You need to make sure you have everything your pet will need before you take it home. For all (or most animals) you will need the following:

  • Food bowl / container
  • Water bowl / container
  • Small grooming kit (basics)
  • Food!
  • Treats
  • A bed, cage or mat
  • Toys. You need to keep your pets brain stimulated!

    Other specialist things you may need:

  • Heating for the animal
  • Special lighting
  • Vitamin supplements (sometimes needed with reptiles and amphibians)
  • Playpens
  • Litter tray(s)
  • Water filters
  • Water heater
  • Appropriate cleaning products

    It can be a good idea with animals such as kittens or puppies to see if you can have a blanket with the animal a short while before they leave their parents (in the case of buying from breeders). Or even asking to take one, and return later. This is because you are transferring the scent to your new home, and once it slowly disappears from the blanket, then your homes scent will take over. This also gives the pet a place where it feels safe. Your home seems much larger to them, and its the unknown.

    If your pet is going into a hutch or cage then make sure this is set up to your liking (and hopefully your pets) before you set out to bring it home. It's nicer to minimise travel time.

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    Once your pet is home

    If you have a caged pet, put it into its new home. It may explore, or it may stay still. Do not constantly pick it up or mollycoddle it. It needs to get used to its new home, and you need to give it the space to do so. It's hard when you first bring it home to leave it alone but you need to let it work out its new surroundings by itself. This goes for all animals. If you have bought a cat and it has been moved by a cat carrier, just open the door and let it wander out itself, and with a dog, put it next to or near its new bed.

    Give your pet time to adjust to its new environment.

    Post edited at 3:09 am on Mar. 10, 2010 by Spice

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    Different Methods of Learning

    There are quite a few different ways of learning; this is especially useful if an animal is non-responsive to a particular method of training as you could always try a new one. Some are seen more outright successful than others, and a couple are seen as more beneficial to the dog, which is generally preferred as this allows the dog to be comfortable when learning.

    Operant Conditioning
    Definition: Operant conditioning is also known as "Trial and Error" this is because when the animal displays a good behaviour, they receive a reward, and when it displays a bad behaviour it has a bad consequence. This allows the animal to choose its action, and the consequence it receives. This can also be described as manipulating the animals' behaviour by using positive and negative reinforcers.
    Example: An example of positive reinforcement is if you place a rat in a cage, when it presses the bar, it receives a bit of food. This strengthens the behaviour to press the bar as long as it continues to receive food.

    Classical Conditioning
    Definition: Classical conditioning is when an animal makes an association between one thing and something else. It is used when a stimulus and response are involved. It can either be conditioned, or unconditioned. The unconditioned stimulus and response are natural, therefore no prior learning. A conditioned stimulus and response do require learning, as the stimulus would have previously had no response until associated with the conditioned (or desired) response.
    Example: An example of an unconditioned stimulus is when a female comes into heat, the male knows what he needs to do, and they either court, or just go straight into copulating depending on their species.

    Positive and Negative Reinforcers
    Definition: A positive reinforcer is when the animal has a good thing happen, because of the behaviour it has displayed, it increases the chances of a behaviour being repeated. A negative reinforcer is when a bad thing is removed because of an action that is performed, encouraging the action to be repeated.
    Example: An example of positive reinforcement is when you play fetch with a dog, and give it praise and/or a treat when it returns with the stick. An example of negative reinforcement is if a mouse is placed in a cage and receives a mild electric shock, when it presses a button it stops the electric shock. This will mean the mouse is more likely to push it again.

    Punishment
    Definition: Punishment is when a bad thing happens because of the displayed behaviour and this decreases the chances of a behaviour being repeated.
    Example: An example of punishment is if the dog is ignoring you, you could take the treat away, which will encourage the dog to pay attention to you in future.

    Luring
    Definition: This is when a treat is used to attract the dog to your hand, so it follows your hand. It is especially useful when first teaching a dog, that may be difficult to teach as the dog does not think it is learning, merely having a good time.
    Example: When teaching a dog to sit, you move your hand over their head, usually this causes the dog to place its bum on the floor as it looks up to your hand.

    Habituation
    Definition: This is when the response to a stimulus becomes reduced due to continuous exposure.
    Example: The most common example of this is when vacuuming, the first time the dog hears the vacuum it will usually have quite a big reaction, over time as the activity is repeated the response becomes less and less, and sometimes the response completely disappears.

    Post edited at 5:07 am on Mar. 10, 2010 by Spice

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    How often should I groom my pet, and what is a good way to do it?

    First of all, it depends on your pet on how often you should groom it, and then it can depend on coat type and length. If your pet is not "self-cleaning" you should aim to brush it at least once a week. Washing your pet depends entirely on how dirty it gets, in most households. This is done more often for show pets / animals. This should involve brushing out any knots, and if that doesn't work possibly removing them with scissors, if you are careful enough!

    Some pets may need a bath. You should find the appropriate shampoo for their coat and you don't need a lot of it! It should lather up nicely just as your own shampoo does when you wash your hair. It is often best to use a shower head with not a huge amount of power, as a strong burst of water if too hot can do harm to the animal. You should constantly check the heat of the water before putting it back over the pet. A good place to start is behind the head, starting on the head can scare an animal. Run your fingers through the coat as you wet it, and do the same when applying shampoo and rinsing the coat. For the face, sometimes a different shampoo can be used, one for sensitive skin or areas, as you don't want to risk getting any in its eyes, or ears, etc. If you aren't confident, get someone else to help you. Either to hold the animal still, or do it themselves. Pat the animal dry, and even use a hairdryer, or let it shake its fur! Make sure you brush while the air is still wet, and then again when the coat seems to have dried.


    A basic grooming kit should contain the following:

  • Brush (different types are available: Slicker for all dogs, bristle brush for short coats and pin brush for long coats)
  • Fine tooth comb
  • Coarse tooth comb (double edged combs are available)
  • Scissors
  • Clippers
  • Ear cleaner
  • Cotton swabs (be careful when cleaning their ears!)

    If you want to wash your pet you should also have:

  • Shampoo (appropriate to animals coat)
  • Conditioner (again, appropriate to animals coat)
  • An appropriate dryer, do not use a human hairdryer!

    If you are confident enough to clip their claws:

  • Clippers (manual or electric, electric can be easier to use)
  • Clotting agent (should you clip too far)

    And finally, somewhere to keep it all!

    It's also a good idea to reward your pet should they behave well during a grooming! It's a positive re-inforcer :)

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    Should I have my cat declawed?

    Many people opt to get their cats declawed, and many people are against it. It saves time when you don't have to clip their claws, and stops you and your furniture getting scratched, but each individual should weigh up the pros and cons to see if it is right for their cat. It is best to get this done when they are still kittens, as they can adjust better to the loss of their claws.

    The first and most common reaction to declawing is that it is cruel. You are depriving a cat one of its, or its main tool. Claws are used for a small group of things such as eating, grooming and climbing. It has been observed that a cat will use their mouth more than claws in things such as grooming and defence. I'd rather be scratched than bitten, personally!

    There are alternatives to getting a pet declawed, such as scratching posts and regular claw care. Soft Paws is also available, this is vinyl caps that can be put over the claws, if you're interested in finding out more, go to the Soft Paws website.

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    Must haves for small, or caged pets

    Small or caged animals have slightly different needs because their cage/hutch is their home. It's where they often spend a good 90% of their time. It's a good idea to have something that gives your pet a little more freedom, with or without supervision. A good idea for rabbits is to provide a run for them. This can be indoors or outdoors. You can even choose to have it as a house rabbit so it has run of the house or any particular room that you decide. Just be careful about things you do not want chewed if you make this choice! For hamsters a gerbils etc, there's an exercise ball that you can let them run around on the floor in, or a wheel for inside the cage. Variation is a good idea, if you can provide both, do so.

    You need to provide stimulation according to the pet you have chosen, whether this is toys or branches, or even just many levels to their cage. Sometimes placing enough bedding to allow burrowing is a good idea too. You should know if your pet can be housed with another of its kind, or any other species. If you are thinking of introducing a pet to an existing cage please do your research as to whether this is a good idea and if the existing pet will allow new pets into its space. Sometimes a companion is actually recommended and/or needed.

    Appropriate bedding will be needed. Some will need soft bedding laid thick enough to burrow and sleep and others just need bedding so that they are not trampling on a wooden or mesh floor. It's also a good idea to place a different bedding in the area that they should be using as a toilet area, this is so that the pet can differentiate about where it shouldn't and shouldn't empty its bowels.

    You need to be considerate for each small animals needs, for example a gerbil needs to be able to tunnel and can chew through things, and rabbits are best around calm people rather than small excited children.

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    What is Global Warming?


    Global warming is the gradual rise in the earth's temperature caused by high levels of carbon dioxide and other gases in the atmosphere. N-UNCOUNT
  • The threat of global warming will eventually force the U.S. to slow down its energy consumption.
  • - taken from http://www.google.co.uk/dictionary?aq=f&langpair=en%7Cen&hl=en&q=global warming

    Really the meaning is quite simple, we are releasing too many gases into the atmosphere which is causing the temperature to slowly but significantly rise. This has threatened species, and the most commonly referred to threat is that of losing our polar ice caps and sheets to the sea. It would cause sea levels to rise and parts of land to be submerged below what is now sea level or above.

    It is also argued that global warming is part of the earth's natural cycle and that humans haven't contributed to it at all.

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    What can I recycle?

    The most common and easiest products to recycle are the following:

  • Paper
  • Plastic
  • Glass
  • Clothes
  • Garden Waste
  • Electronic Waste

    You can also recycle an array of other items including furniture, games, and video tapes. You should check out this list for more items.

    Post edited at 3:15 am on Mar. 10, 2010 by Spice

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    Where/How can I recycle, and why should I?

    In many places you can recycle from your home, you may need to sort them into their respective categories or you may have a single bin for this. In the UK more and more councils are doing a two-weekly collection of your recyclables so that recycling is more accesible to those that can't, or don't have the time to get to recycling points. Supermarkets often have big recycling containers within or around the carpark. You should check out your local government website to check how your area recycles. Recycling is more widespread in the UK than the USA.

    You might well think that you shouldn't bother recylcing, whether that's because you think enough people do it for you, or you are too lazy to recycle your own goods, many people think it's a waste of time, or they don't have enough time. So, why should you recycle? Well, quite simply most of the products you recycle can and are used again to make products instead of using new sometimes limited natural resources. This allows for our resources to last longer should no recycling occur at all. Also, it saves energy compared to making new products and having to obtain the natural resources, this means there are less emissions to release into our atmosphere. All of your non-recycled waste ends up in landfills, this takes up natural space and produces a vast amount of methane that countries release into the atmosphere, in the UK alone it was one quarter of a years methane produced in 2001.

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    I've heard of Sustainable Development, what is that exactly?


    Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It contains within it two key concepts:
    the concept of needs, in particular the essential needs of the world's poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and

    the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment's ability to meet present and future needs."


    - taken from http://www.iisd.org/sd/ and quoted from the Brundtland Report


    Many countries have also signed up to the Kyoto Protocol, which is an international agreement to reduce the effects of global warming by adopting the use of sustainable development. Targets are set for all countries which are signed up to the agreement and these are binding targets, they are commited to meeting them.

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    What energy saving products are available?

    There are many products that you use day to day in your home that you can replace with energy saving products (if you can afford it). If you are looking for a new product for your home (or bedroom) its a good idea to check out the energy saving rating. The products available that can contribute to energy saving are:
     

  • Energy saving lightbulbs
  • Tumble Dryers
  • Washing Machines

  • Dishwashers
  • Refrigerators
  • Freezers
  • Fridge-freezers
  • Kettles

  • Televisions
  • Radios
  • Computers/Laptops
  • Insulation
  • Double glazing windows (a lot more common nowadays)
  • Boilers

    Post edited at 4:36 am on Mar. 10, 2010 by Spice

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