VET’S VIEW: Pet owners should trust their instincts

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TEDDY gazed imploringly at me with his big brown eyes, and not for the first time I was reminded of the James Herriot book I’d read many years ago, If Only They Could Talk.

My examination of him had revealed no obvious abnormalities, he didn’t have a temperature, and wasn’t showing signs of pain anywhere.

He hadn’t lost any weight and was only slightly off his food, in fact if it wasn’t for his owner’s insistence that he ‘wasn’t right’ I might have been tempted to give him a clean bill of health.

Tests revealed Teddy was suffering from a tumour for which he received treatment.

Faced with patients who cannot describe their symptoms, we vets are very reliant on pet owners to alert us when something is not right.

And over the years, I’ve learned to pay attention to owners’ concerns, even when I cannot see anything obviously amiss.

The surgery is an unnatural and sometimes stressful place for your animal: limps and coughs will often disappear and a previously listless pet will suddenly liven up out of excitement or fear when confronted with other animals, so please don’t feel embarrassed if your pet seems to have made a miraculous recovery!

Of course, we have a battery of tests we can do to assist our diagnosis, but your own description of what is happening at home can be vital in helping us to find out what is wrong.

The same very much applies when an animal is nearing the end of its life. Being able to put an animal out of its suffering is a great kindness we can offer, but many owners agonise over knowing when the time is right.

However, in my experience you can often sense when your pet has had enough, so never be afraid to trust your instincts.

As vets, we want to do the best for your pets at every stage in their lives, but just remember, we can’t do it without your help.