Have you ever seen a cat with its ankles hanging down to the ground?
That cat is probably diabetic – this is a form of nerve damage that results from diabetes.
Have you ever seen a pot-bellied dog with skin so thin you can see the veins?
That dog likely has a serious hormonal condition called Cushing’s Disease.
Or how about something as simple as a cat that just doesn’t groom well anymore, and has a back end that is all matted and flaky?
That cat may not be able to turn around enough to groom because of arthritis.
There is something to be said for knowing what you are looking for.
This is why pets should get a physical exam yearly through their adult years, and every six months in their senior years.
Changes can sneak up on you – and if you don’t know what those changes can look like, then you may not recognize signs of serious conditions in your pet. We all recognize problematic symptoms like vomiting, limping, or coughing. But how many of us would notice that the pupils are not the same size in each eye?
(Pupils being different sizes is described as “anisocoria” – in this case, it is the result of a form of nerve dysfunction called Horner’s syndrome.)
The fact is that conditions are generally easier to treat the earlier they are recognized. For example, we can manage that heart condition better if we catch it when it is just a heart murmur, rather than first noticing it after it has caused the pet’s lungs to fill with fluid.
Add to this the fact that pets have a shorter lifespan than we do – a year in their life counts for more than a year in ours.
Be pro-active about your pet’s health! At least once a year, get a check-up with a veterinarian you trust, who can recognize the weird and wonderful signs of conditions; or who can maybe set your mind at rest about something you have noticed that turns out to be NOT scary (like those under-the-skin lumps on dogs, that on a needle-sample turn out to be just a Lipoma, or fat lump).
Veterinarians are here to help – come take advantage of our knowledge for the sake of your pet!