2001-Sun Jul 23 06:46:41 EDT 2017
Vetstreet. All rights reserved. Powered by Brightspot.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
You could never practice medicine on your 6-year-old child or your aging spouse. It’s not allowed by law (not in the U.S., anyway). Despite clear restrictions against doing so on people, there's no such law protecting pets. As a result, you can practice medicine on pets — that is, as long as they’re your pets. Here are a few unfortunate examples:
As long as you don’t cross that fuzzy line into “animal cruelty,"you’re OK according to the law. After all, pets are classified as simple property (with a few extra protections). In fact, as far as the law is concerned, your pet might as well be a toaster oven with a “feed, water, shelter and do not abuse” clause.
But what constitutes animal cruelty? At what point is bad aim with an old rifle considered abuse? When is refusing to have your cat seen by the vet a cruel proposition? Does allowing your dog to die of an intestinal obstruction qualify as cruel… or merely clueless?
Predictably, we veterinarians aren’t big fans of the DIY approach to animal health. We know that animals suffer daily in this country because owners would rather “wait and see” than bring their pets in to have us intervene. Or worse yet, owners minister to their pets' medical needs with well-intentioned tinctures that are potentially harmful. It’s heartbreaking to see people lose pets to conditions that could have been successfully treated. It’s even worse to know we could have at least alleviated their suffering.
Nonetheless, there are two sides to the story.
Seeing as veterinary medicine is so expensive (and getting more so every day), does it not stand to reason that we need to protect the rights of pet owners whose access to care might be denied on the basis of their economic wherewithal?
Veterinarians understand this. We know we can’t exactly tell pet owners they aren't allowed to give their pets OTC human drugs. We can’t tell them that their concoction of drugstore salves applied to their pets' infected ears is necessarily wrongheaded or that they can’t bandage their pets’ wounds.
In fact, plenty of veterinarians work with savvy pet owners to help them provide medical care for their pets at home. Pet owners monitor their diabetic pets’ blood sugar, test their urine on a regular basis, administer subcutaneous fluids andeven learn to temporarily stabilize breaks and bandage lacerations in the field (in the case of athletes and hunting dogs, for example).
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Bartonella is a type bacteria that can be transmitted to cats, dogs and humans from exposure to infected fleas and…
Want to give your pup yummy, low-calorie treats? We’ve got the skinny on which foods are OK to feed him.
Not sure about food puzzles? Our veterinarian reveals why the payoff for your pet is well worth any extra work.
With these simple dental care tips, you can help keep your canine’s adorable smile shiny and healthy for life.
The friendly and inquisitive LaPerm has an easy-care coat that comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.