What is it like having to take care of a pet on a daily basis? Why do some animals need more medical attention? What is it like caring for orphaned animals? How to care for a bottle baby lamb. Learn about what is involved in proper pet care and the responsibilities of being a caring pet owner. What happens to lambs if their mother does not look after them?
The responsibilities of pet ownership begin the day the person acquires a pet to the day the pet dies. If a pet is found to require ongoing medical care it is up to the owner to provide the care, or to rehome the pet with somebody who will provide the needed care, or to humanely have the pet euthanized. Neglecting a pets medical needs is, in many areas, a criminal offense.
One of the most common medical needs in pets is for diabetes. While I, myself, have never had a pet with this problem, my parents had a cat suffer with diabetes for years. Diagnosed when he was nine, he needed shots once a day. Many owners are unaware that high carbohydrate diets contribute to this problem, and may cat foods have considerably more carbohydrates than cats should have. After a few years my parents cat needed shots twice daily, shots which he clearly did not enjoy. Money was not a concern, although for some pet owners it would be. For mom, a trained nurse, seeing him cringe at her twice daily approaches was heart breaking and after many years my parents made the difficult choice to euthanize the cat, a solution I do not begrudge them making.
I have provided a different types of medical care to different pets. I have cared for orphaned animals while I worked for an animal shelter. One experience was five orphaned Rottweiler puppies. They needed feedings every few hours, and constant clean ups. The shelter provided the formula, and later the food. I provided the work. There were also many litters of orphaned kittens, some even born wild, and trapped, they needed to learn how to accept humans in their lives. It was all very rewarded. A person with limited time, or limited funds, will not be able to properly care for orphaned animals.
As a pet owner I had to provide ongoing medical care to my own orphans... lambs. One of my sheep had a stroke, she lambed in the middle of the day in the middle of winter, and wandered a way. My daughter and I only found the pair of lambs by luck, we had gone out to photograph a set born a few days earlier and my daughter heard the new lambs calling for their mom. They were wet and laying on the snow and ice, born only minutes earlier.
Their mother had not produced any milk and was confused. Although she had raised lambs in the past, she was in no state to care for these two, born in January, 2009. They needed to be fed Colostrum for the first day. Colostrum is mothers first milk, it is packed with anti-bodies, and is important in any newborn. Since their mother didn't have any we bought some from the veterinarian.
The twins, both girls, needed feedings every couple of hours the first day, and would need several daily feedings for many weeks. Their mom eventually bonded with them but still had no milk. At least she provided them with companionship and they could remain in the barn with her. I only had to make the several trips a day out through the cold to feed them. Bottle feeding lambs, or any orphaned animal, is expensive, not only is the replacement formula costly, but feeding them takes time, and emotional energy. Not all survive.
For me, my lambs did live. Their medical needs lasted for a few months, eventually they were able to eat only grass, and be normal sheep. We kept one, she is very friendly (as are most orphaned animals) and will follow her mother around, although sometimes she thinks she has two moms (me and her sheep mom). She is now ready for breeding so that she too can have lambs next spring (although not in January). Its a labor of love, taking care of pets, and if they have ongoing medical needs there are many more issues a person needs to consider.
Before getting a pet, an owner should look into what kind of medical concerns that type of animal, or breed, commonly experiences.
Other Livestock Health Links
Mastitis in Goats and Sheep
How to Care for Bottle Baby Goats