24 June 2008

Dogs and Medicine

I have been hesitant to post about the role of veterinarians in Italy. Because blogs are so public and my Italian so limited, I do not want to mislead anyone. So the knowledge I have managed to glean about veterinary medicine in Rome is limited, at best. Anyone actually seeking veterinary care for their pets, livestock, or wildlife would do well to consult with a veterinarian (or two—just like doctors, it doesn’t hurt to get a second opinion sometimes) directly. There are some excellent reviews of the profession in academic journals, although you may need to go through a university library to obtain access to them, such as this one.

Most of the veterinarians around Rome (and I saw these in Firenze, as well) are labeled as ambulatorio veterinario. Here's one from our neighborhood in Testaccio:

I learned at the Protestant Cemetery (really, anyone who is not Catholic, not just Protestant Christains, are represented in this very, very beautiful community of the dead) that rabies is non-existent in Italy. However, fleas and ticks appear to continue to be an issue, as many of the trash bins along the Via Appia Antica are littered by Frontline packs:

Spaying and neutering is not particularly widespread, as anyone walking along the streets of Rome can easily observe. I did see signs at one of the veterinary clinics encouraging it, however.

I have focused primarily on dogs (two of the sites for organizations dealing with abandoned dogs include Associazione Volontari Canile di Porta Portese and Canile Muratella), but a number of organizations also actively promote rescue and sanctuary for our furry feline friends. Feral cats are provided sanctuaries through organizations such as The Friends of Roman Cats, I Gatti della Piramide, and Torre Argentina.

I believe strongly in investing in high-quality foods and preventive care for animals, so food seems as important as the veterinarians for medical concerns. Foods that are widely available are not that much different than what we see in the States—lots of mid-range foods such as Iams and Science Diet, and cheap foods like Purina, are fairly well distributed and promoted. Some of the high end foods (Evo, California Natural) are missing, in the shops I visited, but I suspect some of the other bags, with labels I did not take the time to peruse, might be all natural foods, based on the packaging and prices. Prices are generally fairly comparable to the States (although, of course, in euro).

Health is an important part of taking care of our beloved pets. It is worth visiting veterinarians for care; do go with plenty of research under your belt so that you can make informed decisions about the care for your animals.

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Works Cited

Fiona Wild, ed. Eyewitness Travel Rome (London: Dorling Kindersley Limited, 1993), 2007 edition.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Marble Faun. New York: Penguin Books, 1990/1860.

James, Henry. Daisy Miller. New York: Penguin Books, 2005/1878.

Powers, Alice Leccese. Italy in Mind: An Anthology. Toronto: Vintage Books, 1997.

Steves, Rick. Rick Steves' Italy 2007. New York: Avalon Travel Publishing, 2006.