Media releases

May 22, 2014

Don't be kind to be cruel to your pets

We all love our pets - they're man's best friend, after all. However, many of us unwittingly mistreat our animal friends, through lack of awareness or misguided care, even though we think we're being kind to them. Dr Chris Brown and Medibank Pet Insurance are urging Australians to educate themselves on pet ownership, to ensure that when they give a pet love and care, that's really what they are giving them.

Dr Chris Brown, veterinarian and Medibank Pet Insurance Ambassador, appreciates that it can sometimes be difficult to know what is best for a pet.

"People often make the mistake of treating a beloved animal like a human being. However, a pet's needs are very different to ours. Things that we enjoy - such as chocolate - can be poisonous for many animals. Similarly, while you may enjoy nothing more than relaxing on a sofa in the evening, your dog needs to be walked regularly," Dr Chris said.

It is important that people educate themselves thoroughly on the care process for their specific pet. There are many great books and websites out there, and of course people can ask their vet for advice.

Here are some of Dr Chris' hints so that you can ensure you're giving your pet what they really need:

� Don't overfeed your pet. Whilst your beloved animal might appear to have a healthy appetite, many pets don't stop eating when they're full. Overfeeding a pet leads to obesity, which can create a number of health problems. It's estimated around 41% of dogs in Australia are overweight or obese.^

� De-sex outdoor cats. Whilst it can be upsetting to put your cute little kitten through a medical procedure, if your cat is going to spend time outdoors then it needs to be de-sexed, or you will have a lot more kitties on your hands to deal with!

� Make sure you give your pet appropriate food. Many foods that humans enjoy are poisonous to some animals, so research any treats you give them. Did you know that chocolate and mushrooms are dangerous for both cats and dogs, and in some cases can be fatal?

� Small dogs are not fashion accessories. Yes, they're cute and Paris Hilton has one, but don't carry your dog around in your handbag. He or she is still an animal and needs exercise!

� Make sure you feed your cat enough. Although cats are hunters and will bring you the occasional "present" of a bird or mouse, don't make the mistake of assuming they don't need regular feeding. However independent a cat may seem, don't leave them to fend for themself.

� Take your dog for regular walks. Yes, relaxing on the sofa reading or watching TV is a great past time, but your dog needs to be walked regularly, preferably twice a day, and will need lots of open space. This is a big commitment, so make sure you are ready to make it prior to acquiring him or her.

� Bring your cat indoors at night. You may love the nightlife yourself and appreciate your cat's desire to stay out late, or it may be a hassle to bring him or her indoors every night. However, cats are more prone to traffic accidents in the dark and more likely to go hunting at night, leading to some unpleasant surprises for you in the morning.

Dr Chris concludes, "Pets are wonderful companions and often become an integral part of the family. Looking after them can be hugely rewarding, just be sure that you look at their world through their eyes, and give them the best care they need."

And of course, it's a great idea to cover your pet so that you don't get any unexpected cost. Medibank Pet Insurance* is health cover** for your pet, much like your own human health insurance. Advances in veterinary medicine mean more can be done for your pet's health than ever before. Cats and dogs can now receive ultrasound and x-rays, diagnostic and laboratory tests, arthritis treatment, major surgery, and even cancer treatment - just like people.


^ Prevalence of obesity in dogs examined by Australian veterinary practices and the risk factors involved, 2005 - P. D. McGreevy, P. C. Thomson, C. Pride, A. Fawcett, T. Grassi, and B. Jones

*Medibank Pet Insurance is general insurance issued by the insurer. The Hollard Insurance Company Pty Ltd (ACN 090 584 473; AFSL 241436) and promoted by Medibank Private Limited (ACN 080 890 259; AR 286089). This is general information only. Please consider the PDS in deciding whether to acquire or continue to hold the product, available at

**Medibank Pet Insurance is general insurance.

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