Last week, my dog was in a strange mood. He did not want to eat, did not want to go out. A quick check at the vet practice confirmed my suspicions – Babouche was sick.
Like lots of dog owners, I knew his behaviour signalled something was wrong, and even without diagnosing anything myself … I just knew.
My vet confirmed to me that these signs are common to all animals when they are sick. The same happens when a cow is ill, he told me. Farmers know their animals and are very often able to detect that something is wrong, simply by looking at their behaviour.
This makes intuitive sense, I think. As human beings, we know how an illness can bring on a sort of uneasiness. So it’s perhaps no surprise that we’re acutely aware of this same unease in our animals.
So whether we have a single cat or a shedful of cows, most of us know on an almost instinctive level that we need to act. After all, an animal’s welfare is founded upon good health, to the extent that the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has identified the health of animals in our care as one of its five freedoms.
And so we have a moral responsibility to act on our instincts, and this should always mean getting a professional involved. During their lifetimes, all animals are affected by the parasites, bacteria or viruses that cause diseases.
Only a vet can offer a diagnosis for a single animal or an entire herd and prescribe the right medicine to get their health and their wellbeing back on track as soon as possible.
The intervention of a vet, and the medicines they prescribe, not only protects the health of the animal, it protects that of the people who consume animal products. And so our sensitivity to our animals’ wellbeing can have a far wider benefit.
Many of us pride ourselves on taking good care of our animals’ wellbeing. It’s essential that we continue to ‘spot the signs’, and proactively protect their health – because this is so fundamental to their overall welfare.
As I see my Babouche today – now recovered and jumping around as happy as ever – – I realise anew that health is the first and major component of animal welfare!
Tags: Animal Welfare ,