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A pet's best friend can be the veterinary surgeon - the animal doctor.

The first visit to the vet for most puppies and kittens will be at about 6 weeks old for the first of a series of vaccinations against serious diseases. Most of the potentially fatal diseases of dogs and cats can be prevented by ensuring that the pet is vaccinated and that it receives annual "booster" vaccinations. During visits for vaccinations the veterinarian will give the animal a health check and advise on care and feeding.

In many parts of Australia heartworm is a threat to the health of dogs and daily or monthly
medication should be given as a preventative. All dogs should be checked by the veterinarian prior to commencing preventative medication as dogs which are already affected by heartworm can have serious reactions.

Many owners have difficulty in deciding whether their pet needs to attend a veterinary clinic. If there is any doubt, then the animal definitely needs to attend. Animals are unable to tell when or where or how they hurt and may exhibit signs of pain and discomfort in various ways. Dogs and cats do not necessarily cry when in pain, most will suffer in silence. Any animal which is reluctant to eat, seeks corners and/or dark places, or whose behaviour changes in any way should be checked by a vet.

Any animal which suffers a trauma, such as a road accident, should immediately be checked by a veterinarian as although injury may not be obvious, damage may have occurred to internal organs.

Care must be taken when handling injured animals as they may react to pain or fear by biting. A soft gauze bandage looped over the muzzle, tied under the jaw and back behind the ears will safeguard against a bite. Injured animals, particularly large dogs, are best lifted on a blanket.

Regular check-ups are a good idea for elderly pets as often an early diagnosis of arthritis, tumours etc, can mean early treatment and less discomfort for the pet.

Veterinarians, unlike doctors, do not generally specialise although it is becoming more common to find vets who are specialists in dermatology, cardiology, radiology, fertility and behavioural problems. Most veterinarians combine the skills of consultant, with anaesthetist, radiologist, surgeon, orthopaedic specialist etc. Setting up a veterinary clinic is more expensive than setting up a human medical consulting room as veterinary clinics need to provide x-ray and anaesthetic equipment and operating theatres as well as areas for hospitalisation.

All pet owners should familiarise themselves with the name, address and phone number of their local vet and also the arrangements made for after hours or emergency treatment.

Petcare Information and Advisory Service Australia

Last Update: 21/04/07 12:40 Views: 3242

OzPetShop - Pet Products, Supplies and Accessories