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Town vs Country - where is best for pets?

Written By: Jane Davidson RVN

Crufts has come and gone for another year and during the 4 days there is a lot of information shared - about different breeds of dogs, their needs and lifestyles and where they are be st suited to be in a home. It appears that many dogs are still chosen on looks, and the dog’s physical and emotional needs are a secondary consideration.


I live between London and the seaside and see similar dog breeds in both places, but the non-town dogs are definitely slimmer and they also always seem less stressed. They play happily with new dogs on the beach, yet when I see a group of dogs doing the same in a large London park there always seems an air of tension. This might just be me, but there are some other health issues that affect our pets more in towns than in the countryside.


And cats too

Town or country living has an affect on our own health and also on our pets. Working in a busy emergency clinic in London, there would usually be around 3 cats with blocked bladders every 1-2 weeks. These would often be idiopathic, meaning there wasn’t a definite physical cause, so stress would be one factor that we would have to address to help prevent a further blockage. Blocked bladders are most common in male cats and we also know that being overweight and being an indoor cat adds to the chances of having this problem.

When my friend from that clinic moved to a country practice, she said she sees 1 blocked bladder every year or so… not a scientific study but an interesting difference in case levels.


Exercising dogs and cats

Exercising our pets is key to their physical and mental wellbeing. Most dogs benefit from off lead exercise - I only say most as, owning a Peke, I fall into that category of people who own dogs who don’t really want to walk. She likes being carried to the park for a sniff around and sitting in the pub after, but the actual walking part could be left out.

To safely exercise your dog off lead in a town or busy park, you need to be pretty certain your dog has good recall, avoids scavenging, and likes other dogs. Even on the worst weather days, or on the earliest morning, there is always someone else walking their dog – even in the 300 acre park near me!

In the country you also need good recall, as dogs are a genuine issue for sheep and cows and other livestock. The reality is there may be less space for off lead walking in a rural area, as most land is used for farming, so walks may need to be restricted to public pathways. This may mean you need better recall for your dog in the countryside than in a town.

It’s also interesting for cats. We know they are territorial and likely to want to have their own outside space away from other cats. This can be really hard if there is a high number of cats in the area. Be it a city, town or village the space available beyond the garden wall is very important, as the cat population decide their territory and who is allowed access where. A high cat density can result in more fighting and stress. Cat bites are common for both town and city cats, and can be really nasty as they result in a tiny wound that has lots of unpleasant cat-mouth bacteria in it. As stress is a factor in urinary issues and blocked bladders, then it starts to be easy to see why we see more occurrences of this in town rather than country cats.


So now what?

There isn’t a perfect pet for every person or situation and I see some people with high energy dogs, such as border collies, in London and they are happy and get their mental stimulation and exercise needs met. Yet there is a compromise with every pet, so it’s worth taking some time to consider your lifestyle as well as where you live when choosing a pet.

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