Good Shelter Everyday Keeps the Vet at Bay.

It doesn't take much imagination to realise that a good shelter means different things to different species of pets. In fact the definition of "home base" frequently varies between breeds within a species. Nevertheless, the basic principles remain pretty much the same no matter what species or breed of pet you have.

Lets look at the shelter needs of say a Boxer (dog), a Tonkinese kitten and a hamster. The boxer, a medium size breed of dog could sleep indoors or outdoors. If it slept outdoors then it would need protection from wind and rain and something comfy to curl up on. So a dogbasket on a nice deep covered verandah or a well constructed kennel out of the brunt of the weather would be acceptable. Throw in a blanket or three in winter and providing you don't live somewhere where the temperature stays below freezing point for extended periods, you will probably get the thumbs up from your boxer for accommodation.If you remember to wash the blankets regularly you would qualify for an extra helping of your favourite pudding! But most importantly, good shelter doesn't sap the immune system!

Now apply the same scenario to your new tonkinese kitten. Not a chance! For starters there is no way you are going to tell a kitten (or cat) where it is going to sleep tonight. It will decide and if that decision happens to be on top of the TV, well then so be it. Inevitably after a couple of weeks your kitten will select a few sites of preference where it feels comfortable and safe.So for a healthy pet, your job is to make sure he/she has access to this chosen retreat and is able to get outside/to a litter box when the need arises.

Your pet hamster probably wont have a very long and happy life if it had free run of the garden or house. So shelter here would include some sort of cage situated out of the way of drafts. You would need to add some sort of "house" where it could burrow into and an exercise wheel.

The whole idea of getting the basics right is that this cuts down on the stress that the pet experiences. I am obviously not talking "lie-down-on-the-couch-and-tell-me-about-it" human style psychological stress. I am referring to physiological stress that when severe inhibits the bodys' ability to respond quickly and efficiently to a disease challenge. The more little bits of stress present, the greater the chance that your pet is vulnerable to disease.

Shelter is therefore another small but significant building block that needs to be put in place to ensure your pets continued well-being.