As we begin a new year, there is no better time to remind ourselves of the very basics of our pet’s well being, both physical and emotional. This month we have expanded a little on how we can apply the 5 Freedoms of animal welfare to our own pets.
- Freedom from hunger and thirst by ready access to fresh water and diet to maintain health and vigor.
Providing your pet with proper nutrition plays a key role in their health and well- being. WE also encourage you not to free feed or leave food available, but instead measure out the appropriate amount of food per feeding so that any change in appetite is immediately apparent. Appetite changes can be one of the first indications of potential health problems.
- Freedom from discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and comfortable resting area.
During the cold winter months, bring your pet indoors or provide them with a shelter to escape the weather to stay warm and dry. Likewise, provide a cool, shaded area for your pets during the heat of summer, or simply bring them indoors to an air conditioned environment.
- Freedom from pain, injury, or disease by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.
One of your pet’s first lines of defense against disease is staying up to date on their vaccinations. Also, having your pet seen for annual health exams with the veterinarian is the best way to catch a problem early on, giving your pet the best opportunity to be treated in a timely manner.
- Freedom to express normal behavior by providing sufficient space, proper facilities, and company of the animal’s own kind.
Allowing your dog to be a dog, or your cat to be a cat is paramount to their happiness. By socialization and training, you can help your pet build good habits, appropriate social skills, and behaviors, while still allowing the to express themselves. For instance, while we find our cat’s habit of scratching pesky and, often times, destructive, it is a normal natural feline behavior. Try providing scratching posts or a cat tree to encourage your cat to scratch there rather than on the furniture or carpet. Likewise, taking your dog to socialization and training classes is a great way to build their confidence, set boundaries, and reinforce positive behaviors.
- Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.
Most of the time, our pets at home live pretty happy lives. Some pets suffer from anxiety more than others, and there are always times of the year, like New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July that cause extra stress for your pet. If you ever have concerns about your pet’s anxiety, or if you find that your pet in inconsolable during loud noises, travel, or car rides, make an appointment to have a conversation with the veterinarian. Providing a relief from stress or fear for your pet can only contribute to their health and well-being.