My last visit to my own doctor ended with the nurse collecting my blood for laboratory testing. I hate being on the receiving end of a needle and felt fine so why allow them to subject me to this? At 50, I am considered middle aged. An age where doctors can detect diseases in their early stages and intervene with treatment and lifestyle change recommendations. These early interventions can minimize the toll that a chronic illness can take over time when it is not being managed. Our pets are no different, except middle aged comes on a lot sooner for them.
When our client Annie took her dog Gizmo in for routine bloodwork as required to get him certified as a therapy dog, she had no idea he was in early kidney failure. Animals in early renal failure usually show no signs of the disease. By detecting his illness early, Annie was able to change Gizmo’s diet and start him on treatments that would slow its progression. Managing a pet in kidney failure requires real commitment from the owner. The more an owner can do, the better the outcome for the pet. Adhering to the special dietary requirements, fluid administration, frequent veterinary checkups for blood work and blood pressure are just part of the new routine.
When I first met Gizmo at Twilight on the River, I knew immediately that he was the love of Annie’s life. They shared a special bond. Gizmo had a quiet toughness. He had the will to live and was up to the fight. Annie educated herself and was determined to do everything for her Giz. It is rare to have a client who is as tuned with their pet’s clinical signs and lab results as Annie was.
After we make our diagnosis and come up with a treatment plan, we rely on the owner to do the hard work of treating the pet. Annie was exemplary in her management of Giz. My staff and I provided guidance and lab test results, Annie did the rest. We all miss Gizmo, who recently passed. He taught us all a lesson on how veterinary medicine is a partnership between owner and doctor. We cannot make the pet feel better if the client does not comply with our treatment recommendations. Gizmo was an example of how early detection combined with an owner’s vigilance and conscientious adherence to treatment can extend the length and quality of a patient’s life.
By Doctor Craig McLahan