Pain can affect our pets in many ways and often we as owners do not realise our pet is in pain. Us humans feel pain, show pain and can talk about pain. Our pets are so loving and loyal that quite often they will hide pain until it can no longer be hidden. It is at this point veterinary intervention is often essential.

So at the risk of stating the obvious .. how can we help avoid a trip to the vets with a pain related ailment? Well this obvious question doesn’t really have an obvious answer unfortunately. The best way to prevent a serious problem is for routine checks.

During your pets booster vaccination you will notice your vet doing a “head-to-tail examination”. This examination is important because your vet is checking for obvious signs of issues. But pain is hidden remember? So how do they detect pain? Good question and the answer is, well, you!

Has your pet stopped chasing toys like they used to? Have they become irritable? Have they become suddenly more affectionate? We recommend telling your vet this information because your vet will often make a note of this for future reference or they may suggest investigation. Early detection of any problems is really important.

What does your vet check on a routine / booster appointment?

Dog

Ears; certain breeds are at high risk of ear infections (otitis); if your dog has floppy, hairy ears, they would benefit from regular checks of what’s happening down inside their ear canals!

Eyes; dogs can get many changes to their vision as they age, and active, young dogs who spend a lot of time exploring in the undergrowth are prone to injuries.

Teeth; just like us, dogs can develop calculus and tartar build up, and inflammation of their gums (gingivitis). Keeping on top of your dog’s dental hygiene with brushing is ideal, but when calculus has set in place, this will need removed by a vet under a general anaesthetic, complete with a scale and polish!

Coat; fleas and immune-mediated itching (atopy) are common in dogs. Regular, preventative health-care such as flea treatments are of course vital, but signs such as head-shaking and poor coat-condition can indicate your dog is suffering from itchy skin.

Anal glands; everyone’s least favourite topic, but an important one nonetheless! Being over-weight or having a low fibre diet predispose our four-legged friends to developing impacted anal glands. When anal gland secretions become impacted within the anal sacs, they will need to be expressed by the vet, as they can become uncomfortable, painful and even infected.

Weight; has Bonnie enjoyed a few too many turkey trimmings this Christmas? Obesity in dogs leads to long-term health issues due to increased stress of joints and the respiratory and cardiovascular systems. Regular weigh-ins and discussions about diet are very important for the long-term health of your pet.

Vaccination history; leptospirosis, hepatitis (adenovirus), distemper, parainfluenza and parvo disease are commonly vaccinated against in this country, and for good reason too, as they are potentially fatal. For travel abroad, you will also need veterinary verification on your pet’s passport that he has been vaccinated for rabies.

Cat

Teeth; cats also develop dental disease, and dental checks are especially important when your cat is fed a wet food diet. Cats can also develop inflammatory lesions of the mouth (eosinophilic granulomas).

Coat; like dogs, a cat’s fur can be an indication of their general health status. Cats who go outside and hunt are at high risk of flea infestations, and fleas can also carry tapeworms; keeping on top of preventative ectoparasite control is therefore very important!

Weight; cats can lose weight when they have gastrointestinal issues, kidney disease and hyperthyroidism. Obesity in cats and diabetes is an increasing issue, too.

Vaccination history; feline rhinotracheitis, panleukopenia and calicivirus are recommended as “core” vaccines for cats, and some cats are at added risk of feline leukaemia too.

Your vet may ask questions related to more common illnesses seen in cats. Some may require further testing but can often be very important for your pet.

Thyroid gland; as cats get older, they become at greater risk of “hyperthyroidism”. Hyperthyroidism occurs when cats produce excess thyroid hormone; this causes problems with gastrointestinal motility, weight loss, hyperactivity and anxious behaviour, and increased eating and drinking. Checking whether your cat’s thyroid gland is enlarged (goitre), their general body condition, and (if necessary) blood tests are all important to keep on top of any developing issues with the thyroid.

Kidneys; older cats are prone to developing chronic kidney disease. This means that their kidneys function less and less efficiently as they age; this can result in weight-loss, increased drinking and urination and general lethargy. Your vet will also be able to assess if blood pressure is dangerously high, by checking their eyes; this is associated with chronic kidney disease in cats. Regular vet checks are important to notice these changes, and test Felix’s bloods when there is suspicion that his kidneys aren’t working optimally.

Rabbit

Teeth; rabbits’ teeth are constantly getting longer. They need very high fibre diets to continually grind down their teeth, or they are at risk of pain in their mouths, mouth ulcers on the cheeks, and abscesses. Rabbits need a nearly constant supply of food going through their gastrointestinal tracts, so when they stop eating because of pain and poor dentition in their mouths, this is bad news. Preventative health care and teeth trimming when needed will keep Thumper happy and healthy into old age!

Weight; like cats and dogs, our rabbits are at risk of obesity. This can put huge strain on their joints, and develop into arthritis.
Mammary tumours; sadly, intact does (females who haven’t been spayed) are at high risk of mammary tumours, as well as uterine tumours. Keeping a regular check on your rabbit will help your vet spot if this is becoming a problem.

Vaccination history; regular vaccines against rabbit viral haemorrhagic disease and myxomatosis are recommended for most rabbits. These diseases cause intense suffering and there is no cure if your rabbit contracts them.

What are the common causes of pain and what can we do to help your pet?

Arthritis

How do I know if my pet has arthritis?

Early signs can be very subtle. Your pet might not want to walk as much, could be slowing down generally, or have difficulty getting up from lying down. Cats may have difficulty jumping or seem more lethargic than normal. In the later stages you may see your pet noticeably limping or vocalising in pain when moving the affected joint.

We don’t have to just let this happen. There are many easy ways to prevent this occurring in your pet, and also ways to help them stay comfortable if they already have the condition. Click here for more information.

Arthritis affects dogs, cats and rabbits differently and whilst it is the same condition, it can present symptoms quite differently. Click on the species for specific information.

Abscess

Any wound can cause an abscess but this is most commonly seen in cats. We know cats can be territorial and can fight each other. Dogs generally are more controlled because we have leads and humans beside them for the best part. When one cat sinks their tiny razor-sharp teeth into another cat, they make a puncture wound that leaves bacteria from the mouth deep into the skin and muscles. The skin rapidly heals over, leaving the bacteria to multiply and infect the deeper tissues. The result is often an abscess, which is an infected wound that can swell up, ooze pus and even burst. Abscesses are very painful for cats and can cause a fever. Click here for more information

What do Orchard House Vets do to help prevent pain in animals?

Pet wellness screen 

This is a “pet M.O.T” if you like. We do a weight check, urine test and run bloods. This test is quite similar to the human function test.

How much does it cost? 

A pet wellness screen costs £XX.XX but throughout September we are offering a 20% discount which would make the cost £XX.XX.

Well Pet Club 

Our Well Pet Club is a monthly direct debit which spreads the cost of your pets preventative treatment and vaccinations. Included is a 6 month health check. We recommend 2 health checks a year so if you were a member of our Well Pet Club then you would not pay directly for a 6 month health check. Not only that, as a member we do exclusive offers (and our pet wellness screen is one of the discounts that we circulate!).

Dental health checks 

We recommend a dental health check at least once a year. Dental pain is one of the most common issues our pets are faced with (and us humans!). This is a veterinary consultation and will cost £46.80. Just to note, this is another service that our well pet club members will receive discounts for!