It’s been a while since I blogged about the Five Freedoms.
For a number of reasons over the last week, I have been reflecting again on these basic rights of animals in context of whether an owner’s love blinds them to their dog’s actual quality of life.
A good example will be an obese dog. Yes, the owner is feeding it (more likely over-feeding it or perhaps not feeding the right diet), but the dog’s body condition means that the animal is not healthy.
For example, the Chihuahua I wrote about that had heart problems. It was then revealed upon discussion that the dog was grossly overweight. Thankfully, in that case, the owner accepted advice that their dog needed to go on a weight loss program and they stuck to it so the dog dropped the weight and the heart problems disappeared.
A dog with a diagnosed orthopedic problem like hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, or arthritis (as examples) needs to be kept trim, with a fitness regime that is appropriate to their condition. It’s rather disheartening to see a dog yo-yo with its weight. They are going good and then drop off my calendar only to be booked in weeks and months later because they are limping. More often than not, the dog has re-gained all of its weight (if not more) due to improper diet and exercise.
Another circumstance is when an owner has a very elderly dog who is showing signs of pain and discomfort – even with medication. This situation is one reason why I developed my Quality of Life checklist to help clients understand what their dog is telling them. We have to look at behavior and health and ask ourselves if the dog has quality of life and make changes wherever we can.
Is love enough? It’s a big part of caring for our dogs. But, it isn’t everything. And it can be an excuse – consciously or subconsciously – for neglect.
Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand