Friday, February 29, 2008

For God's Sake, People - Keep An Eye On Your Pets!

I'll be the first to tell you I'm not always the best pet parent. I get annoyed by the cats' neurotic behaviour, Mrs. Nator and I put off cleaning the litter or aquariums for too long, and I get frustrated at not being able to get our female turtle to nest. But some of the terrible conditions I have seen in my first couple weeks at the vet hospital could have been prevented by some very basic attention.

The main thing I want to tell people is, look over your pets! This means running your eyes and hands over them from stem to stern, if not every day, then at least a couple times a week. Get to know how they look and act normally, and if that changes, make sure they aren't sick! We had the sweetest kitty ever in the other day. She was 15 years old and had never been fixed. Somehow, her people claimed not to have noticed the chain of mammary tumours, some a good deal larger than golf balls and oozing, running down her tummy. How did they not notice this?! What's more, if she'd been fixed, this probably would not have happened! This poor elderly feline ended up having major surgery - excavating growths from the entire front of her torso, plus the removal of two rotten teeth. Afterwards, she was still as sweet as ever - purring and stumbling over to be scratched. But she would have been far less traumatized and in pain had this been caught earlier.

Another thing I need to advocate is crates for puppies. Many people think they are unnecessary and maybe even cruel. They think of them as dog prisons that their pets see as punishment. But crates are only punishment if you make them so. In truth, they can be safe spaces for your pet where he or she can feel cozy, take breaks and stay out of trouble. All you have to do is make them an inviting place to stay and train the dog to think of the crate as his or her special space. In the case of puppies, if you are not able to watch or have them watched 24 hours a day, this is extremely important. Just the other day we had two adorable puppies in. One had been in a couple weeks before for eating an entire pack of cigarettes! After some emergency care and nursing, he was released in a few days, only to come back in a few days later after eating a package of allergy medicine! Apperently, the first episode was not enough for the owners to puppy-proof their house. I wonder if anyone told them about crates.

The second puppy is an even sadder story. The owners reported that they came home to find he had somehow knocked the television over on his head and lain unconscious and convulsing for some time. What a horrifying homecoming! The dog had irreparable brain damage, and had to be euthanized. My heart aches for both the puppy and its people, knowing that if he had been crated while alone in the house, this would not have happened.

I'm not telling these horror stories to make anyone feel bad. As I noted, I, like everyone else, am ignorant of some things and make mistakes with my pets. I just want people to know that there are a few simple things they can do to help insure their animals' health. And if we love them like they love us, isn't that the least we can do?


Corn Dog said...

How very sad. I appreciate your advice. I was always leery of crates but I see their necessity now. The brain crushing makes me cringe. My heart breaks when I hear stories like this, but I will remember and take your advice to heart and enact it.

Chaucer's Bitch said...

the simple fact is that most people are lazy and/or idiots. end of. you're asking people to be sensible and responsible, which doesn't sound like a big ask, but for the majority of americans, who are basically over-fed, spoiled children, this is not possible.