Recent research from PawClub has shown that Australian pet owners don't paws for their animal's health. The survey has found 25% of Australian cat and dog owners neglect annual vet visits for their pet, waiting until their animals show signs of illness before scheduling a check-up.
Leading vet and media personality, Dr Michael Archinal, believes prevention is the key to ensuring good pet health, while waiting for symptoms of illness could severely impact the health of pets.
"Dogs and cats don't often vocalise their pain," said Dr Archinal. "Given our pets may be masking their clinical signs of disease and discomfort, it is vital that owners schedule a regular check up to identify health conditions before they become more serious."
The PawClub survey of 1,000 cat and dog owners also found that almost half (46 per cent) of respondents don't keep records of their pet's vaccinations, health checks or medication, relying on their vet for this information.
"In the same way most people keep their medical records and information close by, it is also important to keep their animal's records on hand, including details of a pet's allergies, vaccination status and current medications," said Dr Archinal.
"With so many pet owners moving home during the life of their pet and taking their pets with them on holidays, they need to be aware of their animal's medical history. A simple checklist of what health assessments were covered in a consultation and a record of the prescribed medication is an excellent place to start."
To find out more, pet owners are encouraged to talk to their local vet or visit www.pawclub.com.au for further information.
Question: Does it surprise you that one in four owners wait for their pet to be sick before visiting the vet?
Dr Michael Archinal: Not really, I am a pet owner myself and I understand the difficulties of first of all physically getting your pet to the vet, putting the animal in the car, managing a family and finding the time which is why the result didn't surprise me.
Question: Why do you think pet owners are likely to wait for their pet to be sick before visiting the vet?
Dr Michael Archinal: People often don't see the signs of sickness because animals hide them quite well; animals don't often show pain and discomfort, like we do. We tend to interpret animal behavior in human terms which means pets slide under the radar.
Question: How often should we take our pet to the vet?
Dr Michael Archinal: When animals reach over seven years of age, twice a year is a good idea because if you think that a dog ages seven years in one human year - that's quite a gap. When your pet is over seven twice a year is a good idea and before that once a year. Same thing with cats, cats nowadays live to 14 or 16 years and once they reach 7 or 8 years of age then twice a year is an excellent idea.
Question: Should some animals visit the vet, more than others? What lifestyle factors change the number of vet visits that are need?
Dr Michael Archinal: Not particularly because some of the most common problems are inherit and can occur regardless of if the animal is outside or inside or where they live. The most common problem is dental disease which affects over 80% of all cats and dogs over three years of age.
Question: What types of allergies can a pet have?
Dr Michael Archinal: Absolutely! Dogs get all types of allergies including allergies to pollen and food; these allergies can manifest as skin issues and cause itching. Cats can certainly get allergies and as a result can get a form of respiratory disease, similar to asthma in people.
Question: How can an owner know if their pet is allergic to something?
Dr Michael Archinal: If certain signs are shown in a pet, the veterinarian will work out what the cause is.
Question: What is generally required of a pet owner, in regards to preventative pet care?
Dr Michael Archinal: Normally what is necessary are routine vaccinations, some vaccinates are yearly and some can be given less frequent, which could be three years. Dogs need to be on heart worm prevention which is a very simple heart worm injection that can be issued once a year. Certainly dogs and cats need to be wormed four times a year or what I tell my clients is "every season" because that makes it easier to remember.
Interview by Brooke Hunter