Pet Care Bill of Rights
Our Doctors’ Perspective on Pet Ownership
Pets deserve to be treated by their owners with kindness and understanding of the needs of the species and of the individual. Pets have special requirements regarding training support in order to live harmoniously with humans and other animals, and they have nutritional and health care needs that are specific to the individual to maintain happiness and robust health.
Dogs and cats do not necessarily adapt to living with humans without any effort from their owners. Just like children, dogs and cats that are expected to live in homes with people of all ages, must be trained to be respectful to others and to respond to commands. Dogs may require professional training unless their owners educate themselves on proper training methods and practice these methods with consistency and reinforcement. If behavior problems are noted, early intervention with increased attention to resolving the issue is critical.
Dogs and cats deserve adequate nutrition that is as appropriate as possible for their nutritional background. Cats in the wild (even feral domestic cats in the right environment) are strict carnivores and thus, should ideally be eating a diet that is ultra-high in animal sources of nutrition. As much as a cow would never eat animal proteins, a cat should never eat grain proteins. Cats have the right to eat canned food to maintain normal hydration. Chronic dehydration leads to countless medical conditions, and cats that eat dry food dehydrate themselves with every bite. Dogs and cats deserve access to clean fresh water for a majority of their day. Dogs are defined as preferential carnivores, and as such, should eat a diet consisting of mostly animal based ingredients with little filler consisting of vegetables and fruits but as little grain as possible with the goal being none. All diets for pets should ideally be certified to be complete and balanced with vitamins, minerals and oils for optimal health.
Our pets deserve to be reunited with us if they are lost or stolen. In many situations this requires the use of a permanent identification system which at this time means an implantable microchip. This microchip can never fall off of a leash or collar if the pet strays from your home and while inert, when scanned, the chip will allow your pet to be returned to you. A very low number of unchipped pets are returned to their owners when lost or stolen.
Dogs and cats deserve to be part of the solution and not part of the ever growing problem of pet overpopulation due to unwanted pregnancies. When it is deemed to be age appropriate for the pet to be sterilized, they should be sterilized by the most humane and effective means available at the time.
Pets deserve to be parasite free. There is absolutely no reason for our pets to contract parasitic infections or infestations with parasites that we can prevent. Currently there are several options with effective and safe treatments for all pets to have parasites killed or prevented. Please remember that we do not live in a bubble and the environment directly outside of your doors is also frequented by members of our many wildlife species that all have fleas and potentially intestinal parasites, heart worms or tick borne parasites that can be passed to you or your pets.
Dogs and cats deserve dental care. Teeth get dirty. We call the "dirt" calculus which is really a matrix of minerals and bacteria that gets adhered to teeth like cement over time. Each individual has a way to attack that bacteria to kill it in the form of gingivitis. Unfortunately, long standing gingivitis leads to gum recession and painful, harmful mouth infections called periodontal disease. When issues are noted, pets deserve to have help in the form of a professional dental cleaning to resolve this major impediment to a normal health status.
Dogs and cats deserve to live a healthy life through the support of their conscientious and caring owner and the veterinary team entrusted to care for each pet. Efforts should be made to prevent infections with proper hygiene and vaccinations as appropriate for the lifestyle of the pet. When pets are ill or injured, they deserve to be helped by the owner-veterinarian team to regain normal health in the fastest, most reliable and most financially efficient way possible. When illness or injury lead to a pet's quality of life being permanently or significantly diminished with no hope for improvement or no means or will to provide such care, euthanasia or professional hospice should be considered to ease suffering.
Dogs and cats deserve to have a safety net. Pets get sick. Pets will all die. Owning an animal is a responsibility in both legal and ethical terms. In order to act in their best interest in dealing with health problems as they arise, their caretakers will often need to seek professional help. Help from someone will cost money and if no money is available, very difficult decisions may be necessary. As a loving, caring pet owner, one should never have to deny help to their pet because of a lack of a financial safety net. Therefore, pet insurance should be considered by each and every pet owner, especially those with financial limitations.
Pet Care Bill of Rights Courtesy of Alicia Pet Care Center Doctors
Matthew D Wheaton, D.V.M.
Sarah Northrop, D.V.M.
Ashley Dewey, D.V.M.
Maria Brömme, D.V.M.
Celine Hayek, D.V.M.