International Day of Happiness: What makes you happy?
THE positive effects of pet ownership have been well-researched, and we know that pets play an important role in the health and wellbeing of individuals and the wider community.
On this International Day of Happiness (20 March), the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is reminding pet owners that while pets bring a lot of joy to our lives, it's also important to remember their needs.
"There's no question that pets add a lot of value to our lives. The human-animal bond is a strong one, and as a pet owner myself and as a practising veterinarian, that bond is certainly evident every day," Dr Parker said.
"We need to remember that while pets play a role in our everyday happiness, as their owners, we also have a responsibility to ensure we provide for their health and welfare.
"Before making the decision to introduce a pet into your life, it's important to first consider their physical, social and mental needs and to choose a pet that suits your lifestyle.
"The key for pet owners will be to develop a preventive healthcare plan from the beginning in consultation with their veterinarian. Following through with annual veterinary check-ups will also help to identify and treat any problems early on."
When it comes to dogs, Dr Parker also warns that some dogs need more than unconditional love.
"Some of our most popular breeds - including French Bulldogs, Pugs, British Bulldogs - are suffering serious health issues because they've been bred to look a certain way, with flat faces.
"Working in emergency practice, I see a lot of these dogs at the point of crisis. During the hotter months, it's not uncommon to have an ICU full of flat-faced dogs that need urgent medical attention because they can't breathe and it's a devastating situation for both the dogs and the owners.
"Through our Love is Blind campaign our hope is to encourage the community to work together to address these welfare concerns in affected breeds so that breeding standards will change to promote the health and welfare of these dogs, over their looks," Dr Parker said.
Other important factors to consider regarding overall pet health and welfare include feeding a quality pet food, as well as providing appropriate amounts of exercise, socialisation and mental stimulation, which are all areas of pet care that owners should discuss with their veterinarian.
For more information about Love is Blind visit: www.ava.com.au/loveisblind.