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The great outdoors… or not



The role of animals in Australian households has evolved from cohabitants to companions. While pets were once relegated to the backyard and fed kitchen scraps, they’ve moved into our houses and hearts. Part of the reason is improved dietary options and health care for animals – animals are now healthier and cleaner than ever before.

There are now safe, reliable products to rid our pets of parasites and prevent them from getting sick. And of course healthier, consistent commercial diets mean that it’s easier to manage their waste. We’re more conscious of our neighbours and council by-laws, so we’re more likely to contain our animals responsibly and take steps to prevent nuisance behaviour such as straying and barking at the gate. We’re also more conscious of the welfare of our animals – we want to keep them safe and healthy. Moving pets indoors increases their lifespan by reducing the incidence of fighting with other animals and accidents such as motor vehicle trauma.

But one of the biggest reasons for this shift from primarily outdoor to primarily indoor pets is the demise of the great Aussie backyard. Our preference for higher density urban living means that the large suburban backyard is less common than it once was. In fact, many of us don’t even have a backyard. But that doesn’t spell bad news for companion animals. Let’s look at some of the myths about pets and the great outdoors.