Ethics and business practices have little to nothing in common most of the time, the old adage stating that good business is manufacturing as cheaply as possible as many items as you could possibly sell at the highest possible price being the first rule in the vast majority of cases. Pharmaceutical companies, and the medical sector in general, are perhaps the best and most worrying example in support of that statement, their objective often ending up being to sicken as many people as possible and keep them sick as much as possible, as long as the illness in question can be managed and treated with their products. At worst, they could even resort to releasing diseases that they already have the cure for into the general population, but common scenarios actually include releasing treatments that never really cure the disease though a cure would in fact be possible, ensuring that regulations permitting the use of substances that could cause certain treatable diseases are adopted, making use of all their influence to push competing practices, such as alternative medicine, out of the market and perhaps even into illegality, and making people believe that they need to be medicated when in fact they do not. And this last method is the golden goose, especially when it comes to mental health.
But, despite that introduction, this is not a post about the health of people, but about the health of dogs. Because, you see, while otherwise all the diseases and conditions that can affect all the other species we share this planet with receive perhaps less time and attention from the medical sector than those affecting a single human organ, certain companies have decided that something needs to be done for the mental health of dogs. Which would be a laudable initiative, if only it wouldn’t involve encouraging people to medicate their dogs in order to get rid of behavior patterns that are perfectly normal under the stated conditions, therefore unnecessarily medicating yet another species.
To make it very clear for everyone, if a dog does certain things to let its owner know that it doesn’t like being left alone, the owner should spend more time with their dog! That’s how you get rid of these problems and how you “treat” this condition properly. Because a dog is a living being who has certain needs and desires, so if you get one you should be ready to fulfill those needs and desires, not figure out ways to remove them when they become inconvenient. Putting it bluntly, if you want something that’ll just be fluffy and cuddly and not bother you when you don’t want it to, you should get a stuffed toy, not a real animal!
Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the lack of response to a certain stimulus or situation usually considered a sign of disease or malfunction? If so, wouldn’t that mean that the dog’s brain is functioning exactly as it should if you’re really leaving it alone and it reacts to its situation? And wouldn’t that mean that, by reducing or even completely removing this response through medication, you’re actually causing your dog’s brain to function abnormally and potentially creating even worse problems in the long run?
Also, perhaps as a curiosity, I ask you to compare the list of symptoms the drug supposedly alleviates and the list of potential side effects. Interesting, isn’t it?
Of course, the drug itself is nothing new, as it had been approved for use in the USA a few years ago, but the fact that it has now been accepted on an European market as well is a huge step forward for pharmaceutical companies and all others who generally try to gain the most out of every situation by manipulating people, and a huge step back for anyone advocating a correct approach to medical conditions in general or even to the relationships between humans and members of other species.
But what would you expect when you take into account some of the changes that will apparently make it into the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders? It follows the general rule that mental health professionals have been sticking to for the past several decades: Stick a “disorder” label on every possible behavior pattern, even if it’s absolutely normal, come up with a treatment for it that will earn you as much as possible and then convince as many people as possible that they suffer from the disorder in question and require your treatment. Oh, and also come up with better ways to keep the relatively few people who actually do have serious mental health issues out of sight and out of mind of the general population, not that much because they’d be a threat to themselves and others but mainly because it wouldn’t be profitable to find real cures for them and because the others may start making comparisons and realize, despite your best efforts, that there’s nothing actually wrong with them after all. And don’t forget to convince parents that there’s something very wrong with their children and your products are the only solution. But, as a backup measure, you may also replace children with pets and try once more.
On a somewhat different note, there’s one more thing that I want to point out because it has to do with pets and I believe it’s unethical: The pet washing machine. I firmly believe that having a machine wash your pet because you can’t be bothered to do it yourself and either can’t or don’t want to pay for a groomer is simply wrong. (I also think that using the services of a groomer or pet stylist is wrong, but it’s by far the lesser evil.) Not necessarily because the machine may cause injuries to the pet, but because using it proves that you can’t be bothered to give your pet the time and attention it needs, so its existence encourages unfit pet owners to become even worse, potentially making the pet mental health business flourish even more in the near future.