Tips for keeping pets happy and healthy in an apartment

November 6th, 2018

According to animal welfare groups in the UAE, the summer of 2018 has seen an unprecedented number of pets being dumped and left to fend for themselves. This has put a serious strain on animal advocacy communities and shelters as they struggle to find space for abandoned pets. Unfortunately, many people who would like to help by fostering or adopting an animal feel that can’t because they live in apartments. However, you don’t need to live in a spacious villa to be able to offer an animal a good home. High-rise living does not need to stand in the way of you adding a four-legged companion to your family.

With small, indoor living spaces and limited outdoor access, apartment living with pets can be challenging. However, Dr Sara Elliott, founder and director of Veterinary Services at British Veterinary Hospital, shares insights into which pets tend to do best in apartments as well as five tips for make living with pets in an apartment an enjoyable and stress-free experience.

Personality matters:

Size isn’t the only factor to consider when living with pets in an apartment. It is essential to consider an animal’s energy level, noisiness, and even friendliness. Large dogs with mellow personalities may do better living in an apartment compared to small, high-energy dogs such as toy poodles and terriers that bark a lot.

Bathroom breaks:

Dogs thrive on routine. It’s easier for dogs to adapt to apartment living if you establish regular times for their bathroom breaks. Train them to go to the bathroom in the same designated areas around your apartment building. Cats, on the other hand, prefer privacy when using the litter box, so keep it hidden away in the bathroom or a spare bedroom. Using an enclosed litter box cuts down on messy droppings scattered on the floor.

Exercising your pets:

High-energy breeds such as Labradors, Retrievers, and Alsatians can adapt well to apartment living as long as they get plenty of daily exercise, including outside play time. Ensure they play outdoors as much as possible and if you work all day and don’t have the time to exercise your pet, you can hire a professional dog walker. Although the silliness and energy of puppies and kittens can be fun, people often underestimate how much work they actually are. Consider taking on a senior pet, which is less labourintensive. They are typically housebroken, accustomed to living in a home, often know basic commands and have a more laid-back approach to life.

On the other hand, it can be difficult for cats to find a space to call their own in a tiny apartment. Cats are curious by nature and love to explore. Cats enjoy climbing high and like to be out of reach so they can look down and observe their surroundings. One tried and tested tactic is to ensure cats have access to have tall, multi-level cat towers and kitty condos with scratching posts. If your cat loves to curl up on the window ledge and look out, secure and lock windows so your cat doesn’t escape.

Entertainment:

Just like us, our pets can get depressed and lonely if they don’t get enough play time and exercise. If your pets seem restless or bored, it may mean they need more entertainment or one-on-one time with you.

Give pets plenty of fun, interactive toys to play with, especially if you are out all day. Place toys in different rooms and locations throughout the apartment. This gives pets a good reason to explore and exercise as they search for their favourite toys in another room. Switch their toys every few months so pets don’t get bored playing with the same toys.

Another option is to create a ‘catio’, an enclosed cat patio that allows cats to venture outdoors and enjoy the fresh air. Before building a catio, get permission from your apartment manager. Enclose the catio with secure gates and fencing so cats don’t jump off the balcony and injure themselves. You can also create a similar patio for small dogs. Some apartments allow pet doors so if you have an enclosed patio or yard area, this is another fun way for curious pets to safely explore the outdoors. However, ensure there is no chance they can get trapped outside in the heat.

Keep your apartment-dwellers official and trackable:

According to Dubai Municipality, every pet must be vaccinated and micro-chipped before registering with the municipality and getting their unique identification. Even if you have an indoor pet, such as a cat, it still needs a form of identification. Cats do escape at times, and unlike human children, cats are unable tovocalise their names and addresses.

Should your pet become lost and taken to a shelter or veterinarian, routine scanning will reveal the microchip and a phone call to the microchip company will reveal the information in the database for that chip, to help located its rightful owners.

Below is a list of Dr Elliott’s top 5 friendly pet communities in Dubai:

Location

Burj Park

Burj Park, located next to the Burj Khalifa, is dog-friendly and can be frequented by you and your dog anytime, day or night.

Dubai Marina

Near Zero Gravity there is a substantial strip of grass on the where dogs are allowed to run around off their leashes, and you’ll find a lot of them running amok there in the evenings.

JLT

There is an extensive number of pathways around the lakes where you can walk your pets. If you do have a large dog who needs more space to run around, you should note the area’s main park is strictly dog-free. Small-to-medium sized dogs will be perfectly happy, however, with a walk around JLT’s grassy areas and several cafes and restaurants also welcome dogs in their outdoor seating areas.

The Greens

The area has walkways, paths and lakes around which you can walk your pet, along with a dog park for residents, where you can let your dog run around off its lead and make some new furry friends.

Green Community

The apartment buildings have access to a lot of green spaces. This neighbourhood is perfect for dog owners who want to spoil their best friends with all the open spaces and fresh air they can give them.

Animals living in apartments can thrive and be happy. The most important thing when deciding whether to foster or adopt a pet is not where you live, but how much time you can give that pet and ensuring your pet has a full and engaging life, with plenty of play-time and activity.

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