This law is called the Animal Welfare Act. The Animal Welfare Act says that your animal has five groups of welfare needs. These are five groups of things that animals need to be healthy and happy. These five welfare needs are called the Five Freedoms.
Under the Animal Welfare Act, all animal guardians (owners) need to provide these five groups of things for their animals. One of these Five Freedoms is: Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease. In this section you will learn about this freedom and how you can make sure your rats receive the right veterinary care so they are free from pain, suffering and disease.
Just like you have a family doctor that you see when you are unwell, your rats need their own doctor too - a veterinarian is an animal doctor.
It’s a good idea for your family to find out which veterinarian they plan on using before you get your rats. Ask your friends that are rat owners which veterinarians they recommend. If possible, visit the clinic beforehand and look around. Ask yourself: Is the waiting area clean? Are the staff helpful? Find out the opening hours and if they handle emergencies after hours as well.
Once you get your new rats, your family should register them with your chosen local veterinary clinic straight away. Make an appointment as soon as you can for a check-up. Your vet can then create a care programme for your rats. It is helpful to write a list of the questions you want to ask so everything can be covered.
Rats feel pain in the same way as other animals, including people. But they are not very good at showing outward signs of pain and may be suffering a great deal before you notice anything is wrong.
A change in the way your rat normally behaves can be an early sign he or she is ill or in pain. If your rat is not eating or is more quiet than usual, it is highly likely to be ill or in pain. You should talk to your veterinarian immediately.
Regular health check-ups with a vet is the best way of detecting any problems with your rat early. But remember, if any of your rats show any signs of injury or ill health, you must take them to their veterinarian immediately. If it is late at night or on the weekend and your veterinary clinic is closed, there are great after-hours clinics available for emergencies. Make sure your family know where your closest after-hours veterinary clinic is.
Ask your parent or caregiver to help you handle your rats for signs of illness or injury every day.
Make sure this is done by someone else if you are away.
Consult your rats’ veterinarian immediately if you suspect your rat is in pain, ill or injured.