If you've ever watched your pet twitch, twist, and growl when sleeping, you've probably wondered if he or she is having a particularly interesting dream that involves chasing mice or rooting throu ...View Article
No one knows your pet better than you. You are connected, you know every nuance in his behavior. You can see it in his eyes if he is not right, you know if something is wrong. This is very true for owners that spend a lot of time with their pets, but for others with a hectic life style, one can miss the subtle clues. Additionally, your pet may not be aware there is a problem, or due to his instincts, not let on that there is anything wrong.
As with humans, pets can start to have organ failure or the start of a disease process without feeling any symptoms. As the condition worsens, then we notice a problem. The goal of good preventative care is to identify a problem before it becomes one. The chance of a successful treatment is generally much improved if caught early.
Take diabetes for example, for people and pets, if a high blood glucose is found on a routine check, sometimes diet and other precautions can eliminate, or at least, greatly delay the use of injectable insulin. Your pet is not going to feel any different with a mildly elevated blood sugar, but when it progresses to the stage of drinking a lot followed by a very sick pup, you are past the point of diet management. Routine blood work and other diagnostic tests are often instrumental in finding disease early. It is considered “good medicine” for us to have routine blood work. The same is true for our fur family.
Living with our pets and seeing them daily, makes it more difficult to appreciate changes over time. These changes may include, duller or thinner hair coat, decrease in play activity, slowing down or difficulty getting up and down or walking up stairs. Often owners just chalk it up to getting older, but the truth is, most dogs in good health will stay active and still bounce up from a down position, to chase a ball throughout their life if they feel well.
There are subtle things your veterinarian is looking for when he/she examines your pet. Everything from how well his pupils respond to light at the front end to normal sized anal glands at the back end, and everything in between. Subtle changes in your pets’ heart rate or hearing a murmur with a stethoscope that wasn’t present at the last exam can be the first clue of a condition that needs attention.
Dogs often will give us clues that there is something amiss. Cats, on the other hand, are very secretive. They are experts at hiding illness, often until it becomes serious. It is not uncommon for cats to purr when they are ill. An owner may think his cat is more content because she is purring more but she may be sick. More reason to do regular blood testing on our feline family members.
Most problems can be resolved or managed, providing your pet with the highest quality of life, well into his golden years. Every year there are new medications that can help alleviate the aches and pains of arthritis, slow down the decline seen with congestive heart failure and kidney disease, as well as treatments for many other conditions.
A pets’ lifetime is considerable shorter than ours, hence they age at a faster rate. This also means a lot can change with their health in a relatively short time. Even more reason to pursue regular checkups
Owners sometimes are nervous at their pets’ annual examinations; they fear the vet will “find something”. If something is discovered, it is better to deal with early, then to wait until the pet is “sick” from it. If you want a healthy and happy pet well into his senior years, the biannual exams are a must. Here’s to hearing “Spike looks great Mrs. Smith, a picture of health, see you both back in six months”, Go enjoy the fall with your pet and schedule that wellness exam.
Dr. Nancy Schenck, D.V.M., of Four Loving Paws Veterinary Services, Inc. can be reached at 812-448-1415. If you have a question or pet-related topic for Dr. Schenck to discuss in an upcoming article, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.