The Value of a Health Check
Here at Meridian Veterinary Practice, we have always encouraged our pet owners to bring their pets to see one of our vets every 6 months, for a health assessment.
Our pets have a shorter life span so a 6 monthly check-up for a pet is the equivalent of us humans having a check-up every 2 or 3 years. Most of us would probably agree that is a very sensible idea!
The Health Assessment gives our vet time to discuss with you all aspects of your pet’s health and wellbeing and talk about any concerns you may have. We also perform a full physical examination. We check your dog’s/cat’s mouth, teeth, ears, lymph nodes, heart and lungs, tummy, skin, and weight. It’s also an opportunity to observe your pet’s behavior, as well as nail clipping and anal gland expression (for dogs) if required.
This full examination can often result in us discovering a condition which you may be completely unaware of. Our pets are very good at just putting up with things and often do not give their owners any clue that a problem exists. For example, heart problems, enlargement of glands, ear and mouth problems may not be obvious externally to a pet owner but may have serious health implications. Identifying such problems at an early stage allows your pet a better prospect of successful treatment.
If a problem is identified during the consultation this will be fully discussed with you and followed up, if appropriate. With many medical problems there may be a range of different options as to how to proceed and it is vital that you feel comfortable with whatever decisions are made.
Most discussions at the time of the Health Assessment though are not about serious illnesses but are more about ‘fine-tuning’ to ensure that your pet is kept as healthy and fit as possible. One of the commonest points of discussion in pets of all ages is their weight. With good modern diets and less active lifestyles, it is easy for pets to become overweight, with all the well-known health implications that that involves. Dental problems are very common from middle age onwards, although even young animals can be affected. The older generation of pets may be suffering from painful arthritis.
Just as in humans, more things tend to ‘go wrong’ as the individual gets older. With this in mind, many owners after discussion with the vet, decide to have their elderly pets checked more frequently.
If you’re not already in our Pet Health Club– this is a great way to spread the costs of preventive health care such as 6 monthly check-ups (including annual vaccinations) and flea and worming treatment.
Members also get 10% discount on all our other products and fees! Ask for an application form or further details at reception or by visiting the Pet Health Club page.
Fireworks can frighten animals but a bit of forward planning can make a big difference
Every year we receive a number of requests for help from owners who are worried about how their pets react to fireworks. Both cats and dogs can suffer from noise-related phobias around this time, and it is important to plan in advance if you want to tackle this problem.
After the fireworks begin, your pet may begin to show odd behaviour such as restlessness, making excessive noise or hiding away in a corner. If you have noticed any of these signs in the past, there are a few things that you could do to reduce their stress this year.
- Keep all of your pets inside during firework displays. Ensure that any windows or cat flap are shut and that the curtains are drawn.
- Take your dog for a walk before the fireworks begin so that they are not startled whilst they are outside.
- It is important for you to remain in the house with your pet during any firework displays, but try not to act any differently towards them. If you act normally, your pet will feel calmer.
- If your pet prefers to hide somewhere in the house, just let them hide and they will come out when they feel safer.
- Try offering your pet a distraction. Treats or a toy can help them to feel more relaxed, but do not try and force them to play. Do not punish your pet for their behaviour during firework night, as this can lead to worsening anxiety.
- It is important to stress again that if your pet prefers to hide, do not try to force them to sit with you. If you have enough time, try creating a safe place for them to hide in before the fireworks begin. You could use your dog’s crate or bed if they have one, or if you have a cat, a large cardboard box will do. Try and line them with blankets or towels that your pet is used to sleeping on, as these will smell comforting. Do not force your animal into the safe place, as again this can make them feel uneasy.
- Ensure that each pet has a separate hiding place and that cats have an opportunity to hide away from each other. Note that some cats actually prefer hiding somewhere high up, like on top of a wardrobe. Never shut your animal in a cage, or inside one room, as they will feel trapped.
There are also some supplements that you could try to help keep your pet calm.
For dogs – ADAPTIL is a product that contains Dog Appeasing pheromone. It is a copy of a pheromone that a bitch releases to comfort her puppies and should help to reassure and calm your dog. It comes as a plug-in, a spray, or a collar. Adaptil should be started 2 weeks before firework season for maximal effect.
For cats – FELIWAY is a product that contains facial pheromones. These are pheromones that your cat will leave on an object when they rub their head against it and will make them feel safe and secure. This comes as a plug-in or a spray. Feliway should be started 2 weeks before firework season for maximal effect.
It is possible to try to desensitise your pets to firework noises using a download available from iTunes called ‘Sounds Scary’, although this may take some weeks to have an effect.