Does a Lack of Knowledge Make you a bad pet owner?


I have been working in the veterinary industry for about 20 years. Because of this experience, there is common knowledge I have about dogs and cats health. Often this common knowledge about health may be unfairly expected of all pet owners. Even to where pet owners are looked down upon if they don’t have this knowledge about certain aspects of pet health. To properly answer the question posed by the title we have to look at  these following questions.  What is knowledge? Is there any knowledge that should be mandatory for every pet owner? Where should owners look to obtain knowledge on pet health issues? How does the application of knowledge play a role in this discussion?

What is knowledge?

According to the dictionary, knowledge is defined as a “an acquaintance with facts, truths, or principles as from study or investigation”. How does this definition relate to pet owners? There is an expectation that before one becomes a pet owner they acquire some knowledge to understand what is involved in taking care of it. See “Guidelines for acquiring a new puppy” The other relative point is where pet owners go to seek this knowledge? See “Pet Health and the Internet, Top 5 Reasons Why I am better Than Dr. Google.

Knowledge requirements of a pet owner?

It may be difficult to list every requirement a pet owner needs to know prior to owning a pet. Also, some of it may be subjective. But there are basic principles that most pet owners need to know of. Some of those include what to feed your pet, what vaccinations that they need, what things to avoid giving them, and basic care like grooming, training and housing needs.

Where should pet owners get knowledge?

Though it would be nice, most pet owners are not likely to obtain knowledge about pet care from a secondary institution. So where they seek knowledge is important. When seeking knowledge a pet owner should seek information from a qualified professional. When seeking pet health advice, information should come from an experienced veterinarian. Regarding  pet training techniques, a pet owner will be best to seek information from a certified trainer. Unfortunately many pet owners may seek this knowledge from anybody else but those qualified people. For example the internet is a common place for pet owner to seek “knowledge”. Also it is common for people to seek information from people who are otherwise not qualified to give it.

Applying knowledge

The first step in correctly applying knowledge is making sure you get knowledge from the correct source. A common problem though is that even when pet owners get information from the correct source they can often misapply it. This can happen for several reasons:

  • If a pet owner is looking for information that aligns with their views especially on controversial topics.
  • Looking for information that provides the a least expensive option especially for pet health care.
  • When owners assume information discovered applies to all pets when it may be for only specific circumstances or species.
  • When there is a general misunderstanding of information acquired because of limited experience in the field.

Back to the question at hand

So what does this information have to do with the lack of knowledge making one a bad pet owner? To answer this question, I would always say that all pet owners have some lack of knowledge. That doesn’t necessarily make them bad owners. But as you can see the way they obtain information or apply it can have consequences for their pet. The bottom line is that all pet owners should strive to do what is best for their pets. As it pertains to getting knowledge, it is important that the information is from credible sources and applied appropriately.

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