If only they could talk!
I have heard that hundreds of times in my career as a vet. It is frustrating when you sense there is something wrong with your pet but don’t know what it is.
Most of the time it is not nearly as frustrating for us vets. We learn a lot from the subtle clues of body language; from your pet’s reaction during physical examination; from the changes in its body we observe during that examination. We also have all sorts of tests available to learn more.
There are times when we wish a dog could tell us just what strange stuff it had eaten. Or when a cat with no other symptoms than not eating could tell us it has dental pain. It would save us time and you money and be easier for all. It is also true that we usually aren’t seeing pets until they are really sick so things should be more obvious.
Pets often mask illness. Here is the situation from your pet’s point of view. It is genetically programmed to conceal discomfort, illness or weakness. So where you might say “I don’t feel well, I think I need to see the doctor”, your pet needs to wait until you notice something is not right, while all the time it is doing its best to mask the signs. That is quite a challenge for you.
This is why we often find several underlying problems when you bring your pet into us. A cat presented to us with a cat bite may often have bad teeth, be overweight, have arthritis and kidney disease. All of these are usually more important for your pet’s everyday and long-term quality of life.
You can see why regular health checks and screening tests are so important for your pets. If you wait until illness is obvious then you have missed the best chance to limit damage and improve quality of life.
Our Halifax goal is that you should be able to enjoy your pets being happy and healthy for as long as possible. If that is your goal too, then plan to visit us regularly with your pet each year. Once yearly is normally fine till your pet is middle-aged, but after seven we should be seeing them twice each year.
Hans Andersen BVSc MANZCVS