Saturday, April 19, 2014

Musings of Dr Liz - the In-between years of a pet's life

Welcome to another Dr Liz's musings, and this one is about many pet owner's attitudes to veterinary care for their  pets in the middles years of their pet's lives.
Our dog Teddy as a puppy - in 2000.

From a vet's perspective, a pet's life is broadly classified into three age ranges
- the young ones (up to about 12 months)
- the middle years (usually from 1 to 7 years)
- the senior years (usually from 7 years of age to older).

Now of course, this will vary between dogs and cats, and particularly breeds too. Use the following chart as a rough guide! (The old rule of 1 human year = 7 dog years is just a "guideline" suitable for the 20 kg dog only).

And from our perspective, a pet needs regular check ups - very regularly when they are young, at least once or twice a year when they are in the middle years, and definitely twice a year when they are in the senior years.

But from a pet owner's perspective?  What do you do?

Our dog Teddy - when he was 7 years old - a happy boy then!
All of us who have young animals, know the large number of  visits - the vaccinations, worming, heartworming, flea control, then comes desexing and council registration (with microchipping in there somewhere).  Then you have the obedience training, house training, walking - geez, I am tired just writing about it. It is quite an intense first year!

And then, when the pet hits a year old, many owners then seem to do very little. 

The vet visits drop off, to maybe just be the annual vaccinations, but more often than not, many years may go past before the pet gets a vet check.  What is often said to me by pet owners is  " they have been fine" or " I would know if something was wrong".

This is such a common mistake, that it breaks my heart when I see a pet that is 9, who hasn't been to the vet in the past 7 years, but has developed a minor problem

 - and suddenly, as a vet, I find so many abnormalities that the pet owner's head swim with too much information.  Every so often, an elderly pet comes in, to be euthenased, and during the discussion it appears the pet's last visit at the vets was when it was desexed - at six months of age. I am not disputing the love the owners feel for their pets, but it is a shame that there was not a vet somewhere who could've treated the dental disease, or helped with the arthritis pain so at least the last few months or years of that pet's life could've been pain free.

I have a stray dog in hospital right now with a tooth root abscess that has been there a while, but his last vet visit was in 2006 - and the owner was told back then that the tooth needed treatment.  This pet has been in pain all this time, but I have no doubt I will hear the same thing " he has been eating fine".

 Our animals hide their pain - simple.

 It is our role as pet owners to know this, and allow the experts (the vets) to check them over thoroughly, including blood tests if that is what is needed every year - even twice a year if this is what is the best thing for that pet.

Regular visits keeps you up to date on the latest treatments. There are many owners are not aware that there is an injection that can prevent Heartworm disease for 12 months in dogs!  Or that there is a topical all wormer for cats that can be applied each 3 months (saves the skin on your arms).

The inbetweenie years in a pets life is a very very important time.  Any excess weight, activity or injury that they incur then  will haunt them in their senior years.  

Don't forget to make your vet part of your pet's life at each and every stage.
Our dog Teddy in 2010 - at the end of his days.  RIP sweet Teddy

For me, as I see my role in your family as a vet -  I am a part of each and every one of my animalclinic pets lives - for better, for worse. I am there for you all in the fun times, and in the sad times too.

Our pets are never with us for long enough, and it is soooo important - I mean really really important that we do not take them for granted.  As a vet, I have been there at the beginning and end of too many of my animal's (my and your pet's) lives, and whilst losing a loved one is sad, I never regret being part of that pet's lives - I wouldn't trade in that time  for anything.

I know that I, personally, have made a positive difference in many animals' lives.  It is this gift that all veterinarians bring into lives of all animals all over the world. 

As it is written on the bottom of the front page of my website

"Not to hurt our humble brethren is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough.
 We have a higher mission--to be of service to them wherever they require it."
Saint Francis of Assisi (1182 - 1226)

I am Dr Liz, the mad vet in Bellambi Lane - if it has been a few years between vet visits, then ring up your vet now, and get your pet checked over.

The more your pet comes in to see us (or your vet), the more they will grow to love us (or them) too.  And don't forget, we have our yummy home made liver treats too - certainly worth the visit IMHO!