So what does that mean?
Being a responsible pet owner is more than just keeping a pet. To have a pet in your home is like having another family member. More like having a young child who can’t speak for themselves.
We are our pet’s voices. We speak for them, we care for them. How do we care for them? We feed them healthy, nutritionally sound foods. We give them a safe haven in our home. We protect them from disease by having them vaccinated. And we take them to the veterinarian when they are sick.
But there’s so much more. Our pets cannot make the best decisions for themselves. They can’t tell us when something’s wrong. They can’t say “please don’t leave me in the car in the heat”. They can’t tell you the water bowl is empty or the litter box is not clean.
They don’t know to not eat up our prescription meds so they rely on us to keep them along with other household poisons out of their reach, as you would a young child. They can’t tell us they need boundaries like a fenced in yard to keep them from getting lost or in fights or hit by cars.
They can’t tell us that not only are those fleas and ticks driving them crazy, but they can get all kinds of diseases from them too. Pets can’t remind us that it’s time for their Heartworm prevention and that in some areas; Heartworm is a huge killer of dogs. And what about your pets teeth? They can’t tell us that it hurts when they eat because their gums are so inflamed. Or that many diseases are results of rotten, infected teeth.
Would a pet choose to be spayed or neutered? Of course not. They don’t know about pet overpopulation or about all the diseases intact dogs and cats can get. Disease such as prostate disease, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer are eliminated by spaying and neutering pets.
Our pets can’t pick safe and healthy toys, chews, and treats. They don’t know about the recalls from other countries outside the USA. They can’t tell us it’s time for their annual check-up and that the annual check-up is not just about vaccines.
Many owners don’t even know that this check-up is about whole health concerns. It’s about a thorough physical exam. It’s about necessary blood work to find problems early and treat them before it’s too late.
Vaccinations? Sure but not the same for all dogs or cats. Younger animals need them more than older animals. Certain areas of the country don’t even have certain diseases so the vaccine is not required in those areas.
Older pets have different requirements then their younger counter parts. Tests like urine analysis, chest x-rays and blood profiles help your veterinarian detect disease early in the older pets.
And your pets cannot choose their own diet - just as children cannot. Given the choice, many children would eat junk food and candy all day if they could. Please talk to your veterinarian, not the supermarket stock boy, about nutrition and your pet.
Life stages, health concerns, and activity level are just a few conditions to take into consideration when choosing the best food for your individual pet. Are you a responsible pet owner?
If you’re reading this article, I’ll bet you are!!!
Mark Grossman, DVM, MS
Roanoke Island Animal Clinic
please see Veterinarian Advise Page