What exactly is ‘responsible pet ownership’?
When Ivan Retzignac and myself founded MedicAnimal back in 2007, our motto “Care with a conscience” was, and still is, a reflection on the main reason behind the company’s creation: Facilitating responsible pet ownership.
You will have heard this term “responsible pet owner” many times, as it is widely used by a lot of charities, veterinarians and pet education organisations.
So what does being a responsible pet owner entices?
Giving them day to day care and preventing possible health issues (regular flea and worming treatment, appropriate diets, specific diets when needed, grooming, dental hygiene, microchiping, regular visits to the vet, etc…) seem obvious first steps.
The Five Freedoms, as defined by The Farm Animal Welfare Committee – although, strictly speaking, applying as an ideal guideline for farm animals treatment on farm, in transit, at market or at a place of slaughter – also highlights principles applicable to all animal owners when it comes to responsible pet ownership:
Freedom from Hunger and Thirst – by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour.
Freedom from Discomfort – by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease – by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.
Freedom to Express Normal Behaviour – by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind.
Freedom from Fear and Distress – by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.
Another important part of responsible pet ownership is to get to know your animal. By this, I mean that it is important for you to recognise what is normal behaviour for your pet, in order for you to be able to spot when their behaviour becomes ‘abnormal’ and act accordingly. This covers any acting behaviour but also changes in their bodies, so simple actions like stroking your dog regularly will allow you to monitor if they do not develop tumours for example.
There are finally two aspects (which may seem obvious to you but unfortunately not for everyone) of making sure your pet is well cared for: Love and time. Owning a pet means to care for them, love them unconditionally and is very much a full time job (not unlike parenthood). If you can provide all this for your pet, they will reward you ten times over.
We hope that you will enjoy this blog as we will attempt to present you with the most educative, fun and sometimes polemical pet related content.
Most importantly, we want to hear your voice and opinion on all subject matters so make sure to comment on the posts your read!
So, sit back and enjoy the ride!
Andrew Bucher MRCVS