Who does not like the joyful sight of farm pets running freely across the open pastures of a farm? While farm pets help to protect farmers and workers, and they add an element of liveliness to the farm, it is important that farm owners protect and provide proper care for their furry companions.
Unfortunately, there are many things that can go wrong on a farm, even with your beloved farm pets.
According to Dr Alicia Cloete, a veterinarian at the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development, there are a couple of things farmers should watch out for when it comes to the safety of their pets.
There are also some precautions you can take to protect them:
- Train pets to respond to your commands effectively.
- Keep an eye out for pets while working.
- Look for signs of physical injury.
Harmful chemicals to pets
When it comes to chemicals, Cloete cautions that all chemicals that are harmful to humans are no doubt harmful to farm pets as well.
“It is essential to store chemicals out of the reach of children and animals, especially when it comes to naughty animals,” she says.
Be careful with spraying chemicals in and around the farmhouse as pets such as cats are prone to walk in and over it. “Another big problem is a rat poison that is put out to kill rats and mice. It is important to put this out of reach of dogs and cats,” Cloete cautions.
This kind of poison causes mice and rats internal bleeding so if your farm pets eat this rat poison, it can have consequences.
Wildlife and predators’ exposure
When it comes to wildlife and predators, the most obvious threat to pets is the physical threat, Cloete shares. The smaller the size of your dog, the more prone they might be to being preyed on, or if they are older and slow.
“In this case for your cats and dogs, provide them with shelter, ideally in the farmhouse or shed, just to make sure that they don’t become unfortunate victims of predators,” she shares.
Farm pets are also vulnerable to animal diseases such as rabies. Rabies is usually spread through an animal bite. Animals most likely to spread rabies include dogs, bats, coyotes, foxes, skunks, and raccoons.
“If you see any wildlife behaving oddly, for example, jackals or mongooses that appear tame but are actually aggressive, it’s best to shoot these animals and call the animal health services to test for rabies,” she advises.
To better protect your animals, make sure that farm animals and pets are vaccinated against rabies, preferably every year. “This serves to protect them, so they don’t get rabies from wildlife, and it also serves to protect you as a farmer and your family,” she says.
Treating ticks and fleas
Farm animals can develop a variety of diseases such as tick bite fever, abscesses where the ticks enter the skin, and fleas can transmit tapeworms.
“Because of the great outdoors, your farm animals will be exposed to these parasites as they naturally occur in the wild. It is important to check your pets regularly for ticks and fleas and also to treat them regularly,” says Cloete.
“This is why it is better to control ticks and fleas on your animals, sometimes even before you can see them to prevent these parasites from latching to your animals and to prevent these diseases,” Cloete says.
She adds it is important to deworm your pets every three to six months. It is also suggested that the type of deworming tablet changes every 6-12 months so that it is a different active ingredient and avoids building resistance to the worms in pets.
Parasites such as ticks and fleas find hosts (both people and animals) and sustain themselves with nutrients from the host’s blood. If left untreated, flea and tick bites can be painful, cause allergic reactions, or even transmit diseases.
Treat animals regularly for ticks and fleas:
- Through regular dipping;
- Use products and instructions accordingly; and
- Mix dip to the correct strength.
Products that can be used:
- Spot on products;
- Tick and flea collars;
- Tablets that can be given to animals.
“These products often last a lot longer and their action is much better but can be a bit more expensive. It also depends on the budget, what product you would see best fit for you to use,” she says.
At the end of the day, it remains important to protect your pets. Once they feel safe and taken care of, you’ll also feel safe. Pets hold a special place in our hearts and therefore take all the necessary steps by seeing your local vet and staying up to date with the latest vaccine programmes for your pet’s health.
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