Our central role here at Riverside Veterinary Centre is to ensure your pet’s health is as good as it can be and for as long as possible. We all know that we are unable to turn to the clock back for our pets, however, through regular health checks we get a real sense of the challenges they will be facing as they move from one age stage to the next.
Odd though it may seem, the most important time to start health checks is when a pet is young. The decisions made at an early age can determine how your pet’s health may fare as they grow older. In this respect, the same can be said of ourselves.
What are we looking at during these annual pet health checks?
There are three principals to good health:
Weight checks are undoubtedly the most important measurement we take, and of course, they’re the simplest. As an adult human we get through a fair tonnage of food over the course of a year, and yet our weight varies only a little. If it goes up a lot then quite simply we need to cut back, but, slowly as crash-dieting rarely proves to have any long-term benefit. The same for our pets. Ironically though, it’s weight loss that causes us more concern. Weight gain, more often than not, is easily explainable; weight loss less so, and may be indicative of problems developing. This is why we weigh your pet whenever they come to see us as we’re building a library picture that will be useful later in life.
Next up is the state of a pet’s teeth. Let’s make this simple. No cat or dog (with the occasional exception) is too happy about having their teeth cleaned regularly (by which we mean twice a day). Similarly, we’re all a bit too busy for that kind of long-term commitment. So with that in mind, the diet we feed our cats and dogs is central to how their teeth and gums will fare as they age. Go into any Veterinary Practice in this country and you’ll probably see Hills pet food on sale, here’s a reason for that. As retailers we can all stock any brand, the Hills stand is there because it is the best, with Royal Canin coming in a close second. Those cats and dogs that go on to this dry food are pretty much future-proofed against dental issues later in life. Never could the maxim “you are what you eat” be truer. Of course, there will always be those individuals that thrive on the more obscure diets, but, that’s genetics for you – some get dealt a lucky hand.
The final interest in a routine health check is mobility – less of an issue when youth is on your pet’s side. As dog owners we often subtly change the pattern of walks as they age without realising, potentially disguising the signs of arthritis. However, with cats, it can be more difficult to tell as they have a habit of enjoying the proverbial “23 hours of sleep per day” as they age. Accepting that a reduction in mobility is part of the ageing process is no longer the case as there are plenty of options that can easily assist with this problem. Joint pain and arthritis can slowly and insidiously degrade a pet’s quality of life.
As you can imagine there is a lot more to your pet’s health check than just these three highlighted elements. They are however central to everything we do, which is why your observations are important part of your pet’s consultation. As an owner, we’re sure you can relate to these aspects.