Our pets can’t talk and the drive to survive over-rides everything, which means by the time they won’t eat, some disease conditions can be well advanced. Most animals with a painful mouth will still keep eating. A vet I work with had a wisdom tooth removed last month. A week later she came to work munching on a burger as she had to see the dentist and had missed her meal. She said her socket was killing her that morning and the dentist had to flush it out as there was a bit of infection. I laughed and said “but you’re still eating!” Lucky for the vet she has a voice to describe her pain. It is an understandable misconception of pet owners who feel there cannot be much wrong in the pet’s mouth because they are still eating. Vets have an important responsibility to talk on the pet’s behalf to ensure a problem is treated sooner than later. Early intervention can restore health versus advanced treatments and tooth extractions, needed later.

Regular checks pick up trends and a common one is weight gain or loss. The scales don’t lie or make excuses! Our pets often lead sedentary lives and we love to see them eat, so obesity is rife and leads to many issues like arthritis and diabetes. But a low thyroid level can also be a cause of weight gain and treatment can transform lives and waist-lines. Hyperthyroid disease in cats is very common and often presents as a thin cat with a big appetite. Owners commonly assume that the animal is thin because it is getting old and that nothing is wrong because it is eating so well! The disease can be confirmed with a simple in-house blood test. It is the best old age condition a cat can get as it is so easily treated and can even be cured with radioactive iodine.

Vaccination is one of the major yearly procedures recommended for all pets. I have seen 2 cases of parvo in older dogs this year – it is totally preventable. Is it a common disease? Not really – thanks to the effectiveness of vaccination. But if your dog is the one who gets it you aren’t really interested in statistics as it is a terrible disease with a potential fatal outcome. Same applies to heart worm prevention in Shepparton. There have been 44 reported cases in Victoria – one in Benalla. But I am always amazed how many people take their pets on holiday with them, and other parts of the country have a lot more heart worm. Dogs moving from interstate to the region can bring infection into the local neighbourhood. It does not cause overt signs for months after a mosquito bite. Applying a monthly topical occasionally or intermittently will not give solid protection so I recommend an annual injection that is very effective and easy. Regular deworming is something that easily gets overlooked in every ones busy lives. It often feels like deworming was done just the other month when it is well overdue by several. We are taught that one person goes blind in one eye in Australia every year from pet worms. Chronic diarrhoea and weight loss from whip worms is an occasional presentation in this region. Modern reminder systems enable us to remind you when these things are due as there is no truer saying than time flies and it is convenient that a computer keeps track of your pets routine preventative needs. We still need to see you both and make these plans, so that you can enjoy your pet healthy and happy for as long as possible. See your vet soon as prevention is far better than cure.

Fiona Cameron Shepp Vets