CONDITIONS FOR PETS
Environmental conditions have a significant effect on the health and
welfare of animals. Some pets have very specific environmental requirements,
and will die if they are not kept properly. Responsible pet owners must
provide the correct environmental conditions for their pets to live a
peaceful, healthy, normal life.
Pets have many different specific environmental
requirements, but the main ones are :
Some species of pet can adapt to a wide range of
environmental temperatures - eg most mammals including dogs and cats. Other species
eg reptiles, birds, fish have very specific requirements for
environmental temperatures. A few species eg hamsters will undergo
hibernation if temperatures fall too low.
- Fish can be either be cold water, or require heated water
- if necessary water temperature needs to be maintained within an optimal
range by the use of thermostatically controlled heaters.
- Reptiles usually require quite specific environmental
temperatures, and this can provided by the use of thermostatically
controlled heated pads, or heat generating light bulbs
- Birds can be very susceptible to cold temperatures, and many require
heated accommodation especially during the winter months.
- It is important not to overheat animals. Some species, eg dogs, have
quite poor heat loss mechanisms (they can panting, but are unable to
sweat) and death due to hyperthermia is common in dogs kept in enclosed
environments (eg in cars) during hot weather. Reptiles become increasingly
active with increased environmental temperature and they can waste a lot
of stored energy moving around.
Ultraviolet (UV) Light
- Most pets require exposure to ultraviolet to synthesise vitamin D
in their skin.
- This can provided by exposure to natural daylight, OR
- By providing an artificial ultraviolet-emitting light source
- Excess exposure to ultraviolet light can be harmful (particularly in
light skinned animals eg white cats, white collie noses) and lead to the
development of sunburn, allergy or even skin cancer (melanoma or
- Many exotic species of pet such as reptiles or amphibians (eg frogs)
require high humidity in their environment to mimic the natural conditions
under which they live in the wild.
- If these species are kept as pets special humidifiers may be needed to
ensure that there is enough moisture in the air. However, it is important
not to over-humidify the environment as this can cause problems for the
- Some animals (reptiles/amphibians/insects) require water droplets in
their environment to provide the water that they need, so spraying their
body surfaces or the vegetation in their environment may be required in
addition to maintaining a high humidity level.
- All animals require an oxygen source. Animals with lungs require
sufficient oxygen to be present in the air that they breath - so entirely
air-tight containers are inappropriate to keep animals in for any period,
otherwise the available oxygen is used up quite quickly, and they will
- Fish and other water dwellers with gills require oxygen to be present in
the water. In tank housing the oxygen will be exhausted over a period of
time, and so it needs to be replaced. Even in large surface area
environments such as man-made ponds it is usual to provide oxygenation
through air pumps.