During National Pet Week, May 5-11, 2013, veterinary medical teams across the country are urging pet owners to show their love for their pet by visiting their veterinarian. The theme for National Pet Week, “Love your Pet, See Your Vet,” reflects the sad fact that despite more people than ever considering their pet to part of the family, fewer pets receive important, regular, routine health care that can lead to longer and healthier lives. National Pet Week, May 5-11 was created to celebrate the importance of the human/animal bond and promote responsible pet ownership.
The growth in the human-animal bond isn’t reflective of the care the pets receive. About 7.5 million pet dogs and 20 million pet cats went to the veterinarian only when they were sick, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association’s report.
If so many dogs and so many cats are seeing the veterinarian only when they are sick, chances are many are getting sick when they don’t need to be. Among dog-owning households, about 81 percent made at least one visit to the veterinarian in 2011, down 1.7 percent from 2006. The news, however, is much worse for cats. Among cat-owning households, 55.1 percent had at least one visit to the veterinarian in 2011, down 13.5 percent from 2006.
What is most perplexing is that so many dog and cat owners understand that routine check-ups and preventive health care are important for their pets. Nearly 90 percent of dog owners and 75 percent of cat owners surveyed indicated that routine check-ups and preventive care are either very or somewhat important.
Yet 10.8 percent of dog owners and 27.1 percent of cat owners said they only took their pets to the veterinarian when they were sick. Even more concerning is that 3.5 percent of dog owners and 9.6 percent of cat owners indicated that they never took their pets to the veterinarian at all.
When asked why they didn’t visit the veterinarian in 2011, 53.9 percent of cat owners and 48.6 percent of dog owners said they didn’t go because their pets did not get sick or injured.
While pet owners say that visiting the veterinarian is very important, some aren’t backing up their words with actions, even though many want – and expect – the same level of health care for their pets that they want and expect for themselves. What’s important to remember is that preventive pet care can help save you money. Potential health problems in pets can be diagnosed early – and costs can be reduced – if our pets visit the veterinarian on a regular basis.
This National Pet Week, talk with us about what is involved in responsible pet ownership and what if any special needs your pet might have. The AVMA, your Florida Veterinary Medical Association and Animal Medical Clinic all have tremendous resources for you.
For more information about National Pet Week and responsible pet ownership, please visit: www.petweek.org or www.avma.org