By Dr. Laura Hady
I am excited to join the Prime Time community as an animal health care columnist, with a pedigree of 27 years as a veterinarian. Part of that time has been spent in general practice, part in the specialty of physical rehabilitation, and part in public health through medical missions. Currently, I am involved in part-time work in all three of those areas. The rest of my time is filled being a wife, mom to my college-age daughter, and a pet mom to four dogs and two cats who are all rescues.
Two of my dogs, Cub (Heeler cross) and Figgy (Lab cross), have special needs. Cub had his back legs amputated due to trauma, and Figgy has paralyzed back legs from a spinal injury. Cub has a stroller and Figgy has a specially modified dog cart. Our other dogs are Peeka, a 16-year-old Chihuahua cross, and Minnie, a retriever mix. Our favorite activities are walking, cooking, gardening and just being outside in beautiful New Mexico.
Our family pets are unique both in their needs and in their easy access to health care at home. Most people with pets aren’t so lucky. However, there are a few tips I’d like to provide for how to make the most of your visits to the vet you choose. An annual exam is the purr-fect place to start. It gives the veterinarian a chance to bond with both you and your pet while performing a thorough exam. Many vets, myself included, appreciate owners who come to an appointment with a list of questions and/or specific areas to examine, such as new lumps or behavioral changes. Since exam durations may be limited, it might be worthwhile to take with you a video of how your pets move or act at home in case they won’t “perform” in the clinic setting.
Regular diagnostics are also recommended. These may include heartworm tests, fecal exams, bloodwork, or radiographs. Your vet may take this time to explain any needed future procedures, such as dental cleanings or spays/neuters, or if there is any reason your pet may need to see a specialist. Your pet’s veterinarian can not only serve as a lifelong health care provider but also as a more complete advisor than if you simply searched for pet health information on the internet.
In future columns I’ll address some of the more frequently asked health questions, feature rescue dog success stories, and provide fun lifestyle activities, such as ideas for gardens suitable for pets, healthful recipes for dog treats, and easy exercises for your pet’s brain and body.
Specific health issues will include weight loss, dental care, joint disease, cancer, and behavioral issues in puppies and geriatric pets. Sometimes I’ll write about topics requested by you, the readers.
I look forward to presenting you with easy-to-understand, evidence-based animal health information each month.