girl lying on floor on her stomach has puppy either side of her, smiling at camera

What Pets Should We Avoid if We Want an Easy First Pet?

Finding a pet that suits your living situation is essential for a harmonious, happy relationship. In the past we have looked at ideal starting pets, however it is worth discussing the high commitment group of pets. These pets are generally much better suited to pet owners who are prepared to invest a lot of time, effort and money into keeping such an animal. Having said that, you can be rewarded with a unique and engaging relationship with really interesting animals. So what sort of pets fall into our ‘very high maintenance’ category?


Proper reptile care involves meticulous attention to their diet and habitat. Reptiles require special light sources, heating rocks, a specialised diet, strict and carefully administered feeding regimen, humidity control and temperature gradient checks, amongst other things. You need in-depth knowledge and attention to detail in order to keep them happy and healthy. Some reptiles, such as turtles, are literally a lifelong commitment. Captive turtles can live for over 100 years! We would strongly encourage doing a lot of research into reptile requirements before making such a commitment.

High drive dogs

We get it – you look at some cute dog doing tricks online, and the next minute you are in love with the breed. Working dogs such as Kelpies, Border Collies and Belgian Malinois are capable of extremely impressive acts of obedience and agility. However, that high intelligence and high energy comes at the cost of them being highly demanding. If these dogs don’t get huge amounts of daily exercise, training, and stimulation, they will redirect their energy into antisocial behaviour. This could include barking or environmental destruction. Before choosing a high drive breed make sure you are ready to provide hours of attention, every day, for the rest of their lives. They must have it in order to be happy and healthy!.

Most fish

As for reptiles, many fish require their environment be kept within a fairly narrow range of measurements in order for them to survive. These include water temperature, pH levels, hardness, low nitrate and nitrite levels. Salt water fish have even more strict criteria to maintain for them to be healthy. Many people often don’t expect that some fish, such as Oscars, are quite intelligent and need plenty of space and stimulation to keep happy. Some saltwater fish need movable objects so they can rearrange the tank and build little hidey holes.

If you are going to get a multi-species tank, it is also important to ensure you are mixing compatible species so one doesn’t eat or harass another. Usually a dedicated aquarium store can help you with advice in this regard. It is worth mentioning that moving house can be very stressful for fish. Many will live for over 20 years, so if you’re planning to move be sure to consider the decision to keep these fish.

Hermit crabs

This is bought up more for ethical reasons than anything else. Guess how long hermit crabs live for in the wild. 6 months? 1 year? Hermit crabs properly cared for live for up to 30 (yes, 30!) years. We don’t think of them as long living because they tend to die a slow death in captivity. We would suggest that unless you are very experienced at keeping crustaceans, avoid hermit crabs due to their demanding husbandry requirements.

Intelligent birds

In the wild, many parrots spend 6 hours foraging per day, they engage in complex courtship behaviour, build a nest, raise chicks with their bonded mate, engage in complex social behaviour and fly over great distances. We take these intelligent, free, highly social animals and put them in a small cage by themselves. It’s no wonder some of them become highly anxious! In order to reduce their stress, they need environmental enrichment such as setting foods up for foraging, providing stimulating puzzle toys, training, placing them in fresh air and natural light, increasing their flying space, bathing them regularly, and ensuring they get 10 to 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. More simple birds such as finches are generally better if you don’t have the time to keep your bird engaged.

There are so many weird and wonderful pets out there. But, for their sake and your own it’s important to be thoughtful about the decision to get a demanding pet. Having said that, they can be highly rewarding pets to maintain and many will literally be with you for your lifetime. If you have any questions about what pet is right for you, feel free to call or email our clinic.







Why Should I Trust Sunbird Orthodontics With My Smile?

Sunbird Orthodontics

Dear Dr Bobby, Why should I trust Sunbird Orthodontics with my smile?

We have been practicing in the northern beaches for around 20 years, attracting patients from all around our area. In fact, literally thousands of kids and adults have been referred to us by their dentist over the years. Overall it is a great pleasure to watch kids and their families grow up through their time with us. Once their time with us comes to an end, kids are rewarded with a beautiful and healthy dentition. This helps to give them the self-confidence to face life’s challenges in the exciting years ahead.

Call Sunbird Orthodontics on 4038 1036








What Natural Treatments Work for Bad Period Pain?

Naturopath – Calanna Whole Health Pharmacy

Dear Jana, I get really bad period pain. My Dr suggested contraceptives might help but I’d prefer something natural. Do I have options?

The effectiveness of a natural treatment depends on the reason for the pain. Some conditions that lead to period pain can impact your fertility so make sure your GP is referring you for further investigations. Natural therapies for period pain centre on balancing hormones, reducing inflammation, managing stress with nutritional and herbal supplements, and more. There are differences between supplements so make sure you seek advice on a product that’s going to work for you. 





What Can I Ask My Pharmacist?

Calanna Whole Health Pharmacy

Dear Matthew, What can I ask my pharmacist?

Don’t be afraid to ask your pharmacist any question about your health and medicine. We have face to face dispensing to encourage these conversations between our customers and pharmacists, as well as being open seven days a week, early to late, so you can catch us on your way home. Some common questions are, “Do I need to take this with food?”, “What side effects might I get from this medicine?” and more. Ask Calanna – we can either help or advise you to see a doctor.





How Can I Help My Child Deal With Stress?

Win Win Parenting 

Dear Dr Rosina, How can I help my child deal with stress?

Stress is a normal reaction to life’s challenges. Helping children overcome it will empower them to tackle obstacles they encounter with courage and confidence.

Here are three tools that can help:

1. Be a good role-model. When it comes to managing your stress – children look to their parents for guidance.

2. Teach calming techniques. Help children learn to slow and deepen their breath when they’re feeling stressed. 

3. Encourage positive self-talk. Create an empowering mantra that children can repeat to themselves when they feel worried, like: “I’m OK, everything is fine, I can get the help I need, I’ve been successful before and I’ll do it again.”

Read more parenting blogs HERE. 







My Child Wants a Pet. What Is the Ideal First Pet?

So, your child has asked you for a pet. Pets can be a great way to teach responsibility and empathy, but they do come with a lifelong commitment. It’s very important that the decision to get a pet is taken seriously, no matter how small the animal. Your pet will require time, cleaning, feeding, watering, shelter, and stimulation, long after your child may have grown bored of them. As they are sentient beings, we need to ensure that we’re offering them a safe and comfortable home for the rest of their life. The ideal first pet is clean, simple to care for, has some personality, and let’s be honest- reasonably short lived. For this reason pets such as turtles, and some fish or birds, which can live for thirty to one hundred years, are probably out. So, what is the ideal first pet(s)?

Guinea pigs

Guinea pigs are friendly, cute little critters and are full of personality. They are great for kids and make an ideal first pet, especially because they provide that tactile reward of petting something soft! Guinea pigs live for around five to eight years, and they require a large enclosure, and regular fresh timothy hay and green vegetables. They can run free on the lawn under supervision, but watch for birds and snakes as they make a pretty tasty snack for predators. You will generally need to clean out their cage once weekly. The main problems we see with guinea pigs are that they can be territorial. This can result in them occasionally harming one another. But, this can be discouraged by having plenty of space and purchasing pigs from the same litter.


Rats are intelligent, active, engaging, quite bonded pets, and can be a very underrated pet. They can be toilet trained using much the same techniques as for a dog.You can feed them a wide variety of foods but there are definitely some to avoid, such as blue cheese, green bananas, green potato skin, and anything with citrus in it. They need a very large cage with plenty of things to climb on and hide in. This cage will need to be cleaned once weekly. Rats should ideally should get plenty of contact and socialisation with people. As for guinea pigs, sometimes they can suffer inter-rat aggression. They can be a little prone to respiratory diseases. Rats generally live for one to two years.


Budgerigars are from the parrot family and are beautiful, quite intelligent, fairly clean pets. In the wild, they form enormous social flocks that fly hundreds of kilometers. Keeping them alone in a small cage probably feels like solitary confinement to some – they need plenty of space, toys, puzzles, mirrors, space, and socialisation. They can live up to 10 years, and their cage needs to be cleaned regularly. They can be trained to step up onto fingers, sing, and perform other small tricks. Generally they are healthy pets but can pick up some diseases from wild birds on occasion.


Most of us have had a goldfish at some point in time. They are quite a hardy fish and fairly simple to care for. Surprisingly, they can be trained to perform tricks such as swimming through underwater hoops! Their water needs to be partially changed every week, and the main problem beginners have with them is overfeeding. Excessive feeding can lead to swim bladder issues. With appropriate feeding, regular water changes, and the occasional tank clean, they can live for ten to fifteen years.


Dogs are probably the best overall family pet and ideal first pet, however they also come with the greatest commitment. They tend to be much more of a family member than just a pet. Dogs are also a great way to get your kids outdoors and socialising. There are many wonderful dog breeds out there, but probably the most family friendly breeds would be Staffordshire Bull Terriers (their energy tends to be able to exhaust even young children!), Labradors or Golden Retrievers. Or, if your children are quiet, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Some breeds, such as Maremmas, aren’t quite suited for family life, so be sure to do your research and meet the puppy and their parents prior to getting one. Dogs need walking, cleaning, training, socialisation, grooming, preventative care and vet care.


Cats can be good family pets, but some cats prefer their own space over spending time with children. If you’re getting a cat for your children, be sure to spend plenty of time getting your kids to meet different cats, and look for one that loves being petted and picked up by your children. Cats are generally very clean pets. If they are indoors they require regular litter changes and feeding, otherwise they are usually fairly independent. One major benefit of cats is that they tend to not be as demanding pets compared to dogs.

There are many great first pets out there, though if you feel that your child may not be quite ready for a pet, it’s okay to wait longer until you get one. There are many different ways of getting an ‘animal fix’ instead of getting a pet for yourself. You can go to the zoo, have a friend’s dogs come over, or visit your crazy cat friend’s home, for example!

Visit the Cairns Veterinary Clinic’s website HERE.