Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pet Appreciation

We gain a great deal from our pets.

A glimpse through any pet supply catalogue shows a variety of gizmos for sale, including designer couture, sequined collars, beds and furniture, dishes and automatic watering systems. Available are several things that pets will NOT like - dog booties, nail sheaths for cats to prevent scratching, and toothpaste/toothbrushes. Nevertheless, well-intentioned owners will buy and try them.

Given the unconditional love that owners receive, it's natural that people want to pamper their pets.

Years ago, pets were cared for but not coddled. Many dogs were kept outdoors. In our family, we had cats who were fed well, played with and allowed to sleep in the house. I'm fairly certain we never had their teeth cleaned. There might have been rabies shots but no inoculations were available for feline leukemia or other communicable diseases. Cats were tended, brushed, got flea protection and were spayed or neutered. We loved the heck out of the cats and they were part of the family but that was the extent of options available.

A number of years ago, a boyfriend and I shared ownership of a little dog. When she was just a puppy, my friend tripped over her, breaking one of her little rear legs. She was put in a cast and got around fairly well as it healed. But when the cast was removed, she refused to put her weight on the leg. When the vet examined her, he announced that she needed a "tendon transplant." This was the mid-1970s and a well-known baseball pitcher had sustained a similar injury. The ball player had undergone surgery to reattach a tendon from one portion of his elbow to another. That was the procedure that we had done for our dog. The dog was fine and went on to a full and healthy life. But it was clear then that veterinarian care had evolved significantly.

Today's pets receive annual wellness exams, booster shots, tooth care and see the vet whenever a problem arises. Veterinarian care has become comparable to -- and in some cases exceeding -- human care. More precise care can be provided and pet owners are only too happy to do what is best for our pets.

However, there are different mind-sets among veterinarians just as there are among medical doctors. Pet owners should be aware when they are not getting answers to their questions or guidance regarding certain procedures. If the consumer is unhappy with the treatment, they should not hesitate to get a second opinion, especially if they are concerned about the welfare of their pets.

More people work long days and lived harried lives. Pets welcome us when we come home, wagging their tails and climbing onto our furniture and laps. They ask little except for food and to be petted and loved back.

Pet owners need to pay attention to their pet companions and help care for their needs. They deserve it.

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