It is a strange job I have.
My patients can’t describe what they are feeling or what they have been up to.
When scared or in pain they can be dangerous to examine.
Their human owners bring them in to see the vet and sometimes know exactly what the problem is — “he won’t eat anything” — or at other times are totally blind to the issue staring them in the face, like over-feeding and obesity.
My job is to be the patient's advocate and the voice for the voiceless pet to keep them healthy and happy for as long as possible.
Dr Google gives people information and ideas but it can’t replace years of training and experience and medical work-ups to find answers to often difficult problems.
Recently we found the peach pip that had been causing a dog to be sick on and off for a week.
It must have been intermittently blocking the exit from the stomach and it wasn’t until it got completely stuck in the small intestine that it became obvious that we needed to open him up and have a look — in the middle of the night!
Dogs do silly things like this all the time — in addition to the peach pip, we have had a mango pip, underpants waist band and a piece of horse rug all cause obstructions in the past month.
One of my dogs is eating a rotten, stinking dead carp she found as I type this and won’t give it to me.
She has a cast-iron stomach but this is revolting and no-one will want her kisses. It would also make any of us violently sick.
Take care with your Christmas decorations and toys that can easily become hazards.
Cats like string that somehow slips down the throat, gets caught around the base of the tongue and causes major trouble in the intestines. Watch out for tinsel!
And of course dogs love chocolates — so ensure they are out of reach too.
The Christmas ham bone and leftovers are too good not to be shared, but the pancreas can go into over-drive and become inflamed — resulting in a very unhappy, in pain and vomiting dog.
So follow the rules of no cooked bones and everything in moderation.
Cats get more of a chronic pancreatitis and tend not to over-eat as much as dogs.
Change of routine with travel and visitors, summer storms and New Year's Eve fireworks can be scary events in a pet’s life and some animals require medication to help them cope.
Avoidance is a simple tool available to everyone that costs nothing — let the cat hide in the cupboard all Christmas until the grandkids leave, or allow the dog into the house to feel safe from the storm or fireworks.
However, anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications can make a significant difference to their quality of life so see your vet for advice.
Take care over the festive season and enjoy your pet family.
- By Dr Fiona Cameron, Shepparton Veterinary Clinic