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In Praise of Pet Owners

You’re Doing Great Things for Your Pets


As I sit writing this, it’s time to gear-up for the mad dash to the end of the year with Christmas, New Year’s and a long list of business owner to-dos.

But as we start a new year, I want to acknowledge all the good things that owners do with and for their pets. As veterinarians, we sometimes get caught up in all the things that are not being done for patients by owners. No one is perfect – owner or veterinarian. But, daily, we see owners who not just love their pets, but adore them, see them as family and strive to take the best care they can.

We have a special relationship with our pets – something to treasure as they give so much unconditional love in a conditional world. Without caring owners, we would not have many programs that now mainstream – therapy visits to schools and nursing homes, reading programs with children and dogs and much, much more.

Many of us were touched deeply by the recent photo of Sully, service dog to former President George H.W. Bush. Specially trained service animals help to give or maintain independence for many. In the future, we’ll discover many more amazing ways service dogs can support parents and other caretakers with alerts for more medical conditions and new trained assistance skills.

Pet-loving owners contribute to our economy bubbling; $69.5 billion was spent on pets in 2017, of which only about $17 billion was on veterinary care.

There’s room for growth for veterinarians to continue to expand our preventive and ill pet care to add years of good health and make patients feel better. So keep buying special food and bowls as well as that cute leash, bed and sweater. But remember that your pet needs their veterinary preventive care exams once yearly under age seven and twice yearly after age seven as they become senior pets. And, when someone isn’t feeling good for more than 24 hours, please don’t wait three more days to get them in to see their veterinarian.

To close, I’ll salute the many steps that many of our patient’s owners are doing to help with their pet’s health both physically and mentally:

• Taking to heart that calories can be controlled and that a pet will be healthier with a little weight loss … and seeing positive results and reduced health issues.

• Brushing teeth or starting any home dental care to keep the teeth and mouth healthier … smelling fresher breath and being able to have longer time between professional veterinary dental cleanings.

• Training and behavior modification … obedience training and good socialization keep our pups in homes and out of shelters. It’s even led to a few of our owners discovering that their pet has amazing skills at nose work, agility or fly ball. Let’s decrease the number of dogs euthanized annually due to misbehavior.

• Building the most amazing protected access catios for their kitties … .enriching their cats’ life with increased activity and bird watching without bird catching.

Dr. Margot Vahrenwald is the owner of Park Hill Veterinary Medical Center at 2255 Oneida St. For more information, visit

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