Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Am I a Helicopter Parent - to My Pets?

I just finished instilling eye drops in my dog's eyes. Thought I don't really consider myself a parent to my pets, her recent bout of canine conjunctivitis inspired me to write this post.

My family had numerous pets while I was growing up:
  • Several dogs.  
  • Quite a few cats  
  • Baby chicks (Yes, baby chicks. You read that right - we brought them home after they were incubated in the classroom, but gave them away when they became chickens!)
  • A frog
  • 3 (maybe more?) turtles
  • 4 rabbits
  • A horse
My children have had a few pets, but not nearly as many as my sisters and I did:
  • 3 fish
  • 1 turtle
  • 1 cat
  • 1 dog
I have no memory of where or who the vet my parents used might have been. The only times that I know of when they took our pets to the vet were the following:
  • My grandmother's cat (transported, hissing in a fabric laundry bag) when he was severely injured in a fight.  
  • Our sheepdog, after he pounced on and bit a porcupine. He had so many quills in his paws and throat, anesthesia had to be given before they could be removed.
  • My Irish Setter, a tumor (found to be benign) was removed from her shoulder.
I'm sure that perhaps our pets received immunizations and some check-ups, of which my memory is just hazy.  I do know, however, that my parents never visited a veterinarian with anywhere close to the same sort of frequency that I have.

I drew the line at fish. They never saw a vet!  But, when our goldfish became ill, I did scour the Internet for a cure, and treated them with a variety of medications.  One fish  survived (for a few more years) and the other did not. The Beta fish‚ lived only a short life with us, and was greatly mourned.

The turtle was a summer pet, released back into the wild by my small children in time to hibernate,  probably better nourished and healthier than when he wandered into our lives!

Our cat and dog?  Let's just say I could probably set my car on auto-pilot and it would find its way to the vet! You won't believe what their medical history entails:

  • Annual checkups and vaccinations. 
  • A series of steroid injections for the cat, due to a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome.  
  • A barium swallow, X-rays and special dog food when the dog was a puppy.
  • Several rounds of eye drops; and I've become skilled at obtaining urine samples from the dog!
  • A horrible bout of kennel cough (dog) and a wet sneezy cold (cat). 
  • Surgeries (4 for the cat and 2 for the dog.) Even as I write this, I can hardly believe that myself! 
Are these pets just sicker than the ones of my youth? Are we more tuned in to their health because they live indoors, in close proximity with us? Or - did we just treat animals differently in the past, and allow more of their ailments to heal themselves?

I'm not sure. But, I do know that every pet I have every owned has been extremely well-loved!

How well do you know your vet?

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  1. Okay, all caught up! I think that we treat our animals a lot better than older generations and I also think that the Science of pet medicine has gotten better and we are better able to treat things that they couldn't even test for earlier.

    1. I think you are right Rena, and I think there has been a shift in our society as to how we value our pets as part of the family, perhaps more than we did in the past.

  2. I think there is a different attitude toward pets now than when I was a child....pets used to be considered disposable...if you couldn't afford to have them treated you just put them down and got another one. Now we consider our pets as members of the family and go the extra mile to have them looked after.

    1. You voiced exactly what I was trying to say in response to Rena's comment, Delores! I think pets have always been loved, but the increased trend of caring for them better has made more of us realize that we can extend their lives and enjoy them longer.

  3. The picture of your dog with the eyedrops is so sweet! I agree that pets are considered members of the family now, more so than in the past. My younger son has been interning at a vet's office and you wouldn't believe the things people are willing to do for their pets! I agree with Rena too - I think we are more compassionate to our animals than to people sometimes.

    1. T will be an amazing vet. So glad that he has been able to have this interning experience. What a great way to be able to figure out whether it is the right future for him or not!

  4. I know my vet very well! He's my Dad!!! This is such a cute post! It's quite obvious that you are an animal lover! I think we must be sisters!

    1. I have loved your posts about your Dad, the vet! And yes, Diane - I think we have a lot in common!! It always amazes me when people describe me as an animal lover (I have been called that before) - my immediate thought is always, "Isn't everyone?!"

  5. Aw. I sure your your lovely puppy is on the mend. I'm with you and your previous commentators. We are much more focused on our pets being members of the family now. When I was growing up our dog got an ear infection. My dad (bless him he really was lovely despite the sound of this) said it was cheaper to leave it than see a vet. The ear flopped over! No longer standing up! I was about 10 and thought nothing of it. I shudder now.

  6. ^^^i sure sure should reread first ^^^

  7. Hi there! Found this from The Sits Girls and of course, I was immediately drawn to the picture of your beautiful dog! Those eyes! :D I'm sure he gets what he wants with them ;p

    My brother and sister-in-law are all about living in organic lifestyle and we were talking about this the other day; while science and medicine has advanced and we know ALOT more about animal illnesses, booboos and more, they concluded (some) of it has to do with particular food brands. Like processed human food, dog food has A LOT of unnecessary chemicals; Purina is in hot water because many fed their dogs Purina only to have them get fatally sick.

    While other factors come into play for pet visits and pets getting sick/hurt, I thought their point was interesting for sure.

    But yes...I have a 4-year-old 14 lb little bugger named Bruno and I treat him just as if he was human...he's waaaaay too spoiled :P


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