Domestic Animals

Domestic Animal Information

Below you can find advice and welfare information for your pets. For further information please visit the National RSPCA website.

Dogs

Give a home to a rescued dog

We rescue and rehome thousands of dogs each year – each one comes with a unique personality ready made. If you’re looking to introduce a dog into your family why not offer a forever home to a dog in our care?

Understanding dogs’ needs

There are approximately eight and a half million dogs kept as pets in the UK. But, did you know that 8 out of 10 dogs suffer from separation anxiety when left alone? If not, you’re not alone as it’s estimated that half of the owners don’t realise.

Looking at the world from a dog’s point of view can help you understand your pet better, which is why we’ve launched our #DogKind campaign!

Make sure your dog isn’t suffering – be #DogKind

Key facts to remember

  • Dogs have highly developed senses
  • Dogs have an incredibly well-developed sense of smell, far superior to humans.
  • At certain frequencies, dogs can detect sounds up to four times quieter than humans can hear.
  • Dogs can also hear in ultrasound, which is sound with a frequency greater than the upper limit of human hearing.
  • Dogs can see better than humans in dark and dim light.
  • Dogs are diverse
  • Dogs are extremely diverse in both size and shape. For example, there is over a 110-fold difference in weight between the Chihuahua (1kg) and the St Bernard (115kg).
  • Dogs use a range of methods to communicate
  • Communication is very important in helping dogs form and maintain social groups.
  • To transmit scent information, dogs use urine, faeces and secretions from special scent glands.
  • Dogs produce a range of sounds, often in complex combinations, including whines, whimpers, growls, barks and howls.
  • Many dogs can use their body, face, tail, ears and limbs to communicate with other dogs.
  • Dogs are athletic
  • The fastest recorded speed for a greyhound is 42 miles per hour, similar to that of a mounted racehorse, which can reach speeds of around 43 miles per hour!
  • Dogs are naturally inquisitive
  • Dogs actively seek information about their surroundings and will spend much time investigating and exploring.
  • Feral dogs will naturally roam for great distances in search of food.
  • Dogs are omnivores
  • Dogs eat both meat and plant food, so are called omnivores.
  • Dogs’ teeth are adapted to this diet. Whilst dogs do have teeth designed for tearing meat, compared to other carnivores dogs have more molars, which are used for crushing and grinding plant food.
  • Dogs are highly social
  • Many dogs enjoy the company of other dogs, but they will also form strong social bonds to humans, becoming very attached to particular individuals.
  • Dogs are intelligent
  • Dogs can learn the names of their toys. For example Rico, a border collie, learnt the names of 200 toys and can reliably fetch the correct toy when asked to.
  • Dogs are playful
  • Dogs use special signals to show they want to play. When inviting others to play, a dog crouches on its forelimbs, remains standing on its hind limbs and  may wag its tail or bark. This behaviour is called the ‘play bow’.
  • Dogs really are man’s best friend
  • In addition to companionship, some dogs help their owners in really special ways. Assistance dogs can help blind, deaf and disabled people, whilst some dogs can even help alert owners before an epileptic fit starts.
  • Dogs can be trained to detect drugs, explosives, termites, and even some diseases such as cancer and diabetes.
Cats

Cats make affectionate and playful pets and thrive best when they’re cared for considering their dietary, environmental and health and welfare needs. Cats will need space to be active, with regular interaction with people and other animals (cats don’t really like to be left alone for long periods during the day). They will also need access to clean water, meat-based cat food and regular grooming as well as private access to a litter tray which should ideally be replaced once a week 

Cat care tips and advice

We have lots of advice for cat owners – including tips on understanding cat behaviour; when and why to neuter and specific advice on how to look after a kitten during those first few weeks and months. Take a look around to learn more…

Check out our top ten cat facts!

  • No two cats are the same, but insight into the biology and behaviour of cats can help you to understand your pet better.
  • Cats have highly developed senses. Cats can detect higher frequencies of sound than dogs or humans. They have an excellent sense of smell, superior to humans and they can see better than us in dark and dim light!
  • Cats are expert hunters. Cats hunt alone – in the wild they’ll spend 6-8 hours a day hunting. They can hear the high pitched frequencies used by small rodents and their whiskers or ‘vibrissae’, are highly sensitive to vibrations, helping them to detect prey.
  • Cats are agile. Cats have powerful, tightly controlled muscles and fast reflexes that allow them to move quickly and gracefully. They are skilled at running, jumping, climbing, and stealthily stalking prey.
  • Cats use a range of methods to communicate. Communication sounds include purrs, ‘meows’, trills, chirrups, growls, yowls, and hisses. They also communicate visually using different body postures as well as visual markers such as scratch marks or the deposition of faeces.
  • Cats are independent. Survival is a solitary affair for cats; they are self-reliant for food, shelter, grooming and territory defence. They can be social but prefer to choose their own companions.
  • Cats are territorial. A cat’s territory is an area that is defended, aggressively if required, against other cats. They use a range of methods to mark their territory, including scratching, spraying urine and depositing faeces. Help keep your cat safe outside.
  • Cats are meat eaters. Meat is an important part of a cat’s diet. Eating meat is important for cats; they cannot survive without the nutrients found in animal-derived materials.
  • Cats love cat naps! Domestic cats sleep for 12-18 hours a day! Sleep allows energy resources to be replenished so is vital for a predator that needs to be ready to hunt whenever it detects prey.
  • Cats are playful. Cats are intelligent and need both mental and physical stimulation. Play is important as it improves motor skills, provides brain training and encourages social behaviour. Keep your cats entertained with our range of fun toys.
  • Cats are clean animals. Tiny abrasive hooks, found on the centre of cats’ tongues, helps them to groom themselves efficiently. Grooming keeps a cat’s coat in good condition and also helps to remove fleas and other parasites. Read more about keeping cats in tip top condition.
Rabbits

Rabbits are a popular choice for many families with an estimated 900,000 rabbits kept as pets in the UK  and it’s no surprise as rabbits are highly intelligent, inquisitive animals. Owning rabbits can be extremely rewarding.

Rabbit’s come in a variety of breeds, shapes and sizes and each bunny has their own unique personality.  Typically they’ll live for 8 – 12 years, but some may live for longer. Take a look around at our rabbit care advice to find out how to keep your bunnies happy and healthy.

Rabbit fact file

Pet rabbits are related to the wild European rabbit, the biology and behaviour of pet rabbits is very similar to that of their wild cousins. Why not read our information on ensuring your rabbit has a suitable place to live?

Rabbits are highly social. Rabbits are territorial animals and form complicated social structures. Find out more about appropriate company for rabbits.

Rabbits have an unusual digestive system. Food is passed through their gut and special droppings, called caecotrophs, are produced. Rabbits eat these caecotrophs, allowing the food to be re-ingested. Ensure your rabbit’s digestive system is kept in tip-top condition by providing a healthy diet.

Rabbits have continuously growing teeth. A rabbit’s top front teeth grow at a rate of 3mm a week! Keep your rabbit healthy by following our health and welfare advice, including information about how to check your rabbit’s health.

Rabbits are intelligent. Pet rabbits can be taught to respond to commands using positive reward-based training. Discover more about the behaviour of rabbits.

Sign Up to the RSPCA Oak & Furrows Newsletter