What does pet health look like?
Welcome to the September edition of our ‘What does pet health look like?’ blog series. For the final month of our year-long blog series, we are discussing the importance of annual check-ups for your pet.
Although you may think keeping a close eye on your pet’s health is enough, it is important to book an annual appointment with your vet for a professional and trusted opinion. Your vet will be able to spot anything you may have missed, giving your pet the chance to stay in the best of health or to get better quickly if anything is wrong.
We talked to Charlie Rogers, owner of Nelly, the Borador (Labrador border collie cross) about how she keeps an eye on Nelly’s health and makes sure she is getting her regular check-ups when necessary.
You take Nelly for a vet check-up every six months, what does this entail?
Nelly’s check-up is usually just a general health check. She can go in for various things such as weigh ins, worming tablets or flea treatments. Her weigh ins are usually fine as she’s such an active crazy dog that she burns everything off.
As a puppy Nelly went for check-ups a lot more often, but now she’s older she doesn’t need to go as much as we keep her as healthy as possible.
Has Nelly ever had a serious illness?
Thank goodness and touch wood she has never had anything too serious, and I really hope that never happens. But she has been under the weather a few times and had sickness bugs or diarrhoea. In these cases we’ve had to take her in pretty urgently just to make sure she doesn’t get dehydrated or to check it isn’t anything more serious. As well as doing the best that we can for Nelly, we also want to put our own minds at ease that she is OK and will recover quickly and fully.
When we’ve taken Nelly in for these sort of illnesses it would generally be because her overall temperament had changed from normal. For example, if she’s seeming lethargic or not wanting to get out of her bed, which is extremely abnormal behaviour for her as we can’t ever put her to bed! Other things like not eating her food, not drinking water, unusual stool consistency or even panting a lot can be a sign something is not right.
NOAH top tips
Pay attention to your pet’s hydration needs. As much as not drinking can cause dehydration, most animals on wet food will drink very little water. One of the biggest concerns and a symptom that can be linked to a few very serious diseases is drinking too much water. This can be due to kidney failure, liver issues, Cushings Disease, diabetes and more. Often owners do not pick this up as a problem so is definitely a reason to visit your vet for a blood test.
Can you give some advice on what other owners should look out for in their dogs and when they should decide to visit the vet?
I would say if you notice any changes in their behaviour or eating habits that are a cause for concern, it is worth getting a second opinion. Whining a lot can be an indication that they’re in pain or if they’re not communicating, so perhaps just sleeping in a corner and not listening to you or wanting to get up when you call out to them – in these cases I would consider taking Nelly to the vet to be on the safe side
My strongest advice to pet owners is if in doubt, take them to the vets. Animals cannot communicate with us in the same way that humans can so we have to try and look out for different signs. The vet will be able to give their professional opinion.
Does Nelly like a trip to the vets? How do you make sure it’s not a distressing experience for her?
She seems to always know when we’re pulling into the vets and it’s definitely not her favourite experience, but she is always well behaved.
A calm owner means a calm dog. Dogs can definitely read your body language or sense if you are stressed so I think the main thing I have to make sure is that I stay calm myself. I often take treats and try to make it as positive of an experience as possible. One thing I do make sure I always bring is a tennis ball as Nelly LOVES a ball more than life itself. After the appointment is over I will always take her for a nice walk to make her feel better.
Do you have any tips or advice for owners who avoid taking their pet to the vet because their animal doesn’t enjoy the experience?
Again I would reiterate the calm owner, calm dog advice. There is absolutely no excuse to not take them if you genuinely think something is wrong. When you’re responsible for their well-being you have to do what’s best for them whether it’s enjoyable or not.
Give them lots of fuss, love and attention and make sure you reward them afterwards. Another tip I have used is to try parking round the corner and walking Nelly there so she feels a bit more relaxed and not like she’s being pulled out of the car into the vets and being tricked. Just show them that you love them and you are there for them. Your pets love for you is unconditional so just make sure you give this back to them and they will be happy.
NOAH top tips
Try to make a trip to the vets a pleasant experience for your dog. Dogs often have negative associations with visiting the vets, so try to normalise it by sometimes popping into your practice, sitting in the waiting room and giving your dog some treats, or letting the receptionist make a fuss of them. You could even follow this with a nice walk. This way the positive experiences can over shadow the negative ones and your dog will feel less frightened going to the vets.
A guide to health checks for your pet
For some great tips on how to keep an eye on your pet’s health and getting them to those regular check-ups, visit our site where you will find a range of guides for your dogs, cats, rabbits and all your other little pets too. Whether you are waiting to take home your new furry friend, you are moving house or you just want to change vets, visit this page to find a vet’s near you.
This is the final edition of our ‘What Does Pet Health Look Like?’ blog series. We’ve looked at everything from dental check-ups, to travel healthcare - you can read all of the other blogs in the series here. Head over to our Twitter or Facebook pages, both @iheartmypetUK, to keep up to date on all things pet health.