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Timely reflections on pet health

Living

WILLING WALKERS Neighbours, friends or younger relatives are often only too happy to bring your dog for their daily walk if you can’t get out yourself.

The vet's view
Conal Finnerty

It’s hard to believe we are approaching the end of what has been for many of us the most eventful and bizarre year of our lives. While our lives were affected, many of our animal friends have also experienced a different type of lifestyle, with so many changes in terms of lockdowns, restrictions and so on. Some may never have been walked so much in their lives, while others might have piled on a ‘Covid stone’ or two!
It is a good time of year to reflect on many aspects of our lives, and this applies to our animal friends too. Perhaps it is time to help our pets to get back in shape by addressing their diet and exercise regime; maybe we have let their annual check-up and vaccination/worming regime lapse; or maybe it’s time to look after those chronic aliments, such as that stiffness or that persistent cough, itch or behavioural issue that has gone unattended these past few months.
Look back over these past twelve months and ask yourself if you have seen a deterioration in our pet’s agility, movement and general zest for life. It sounds like the proverbial broken record, but regular exercise and good controlled diet go an awfully long way in terms of maintaining overall health and quality of life.
For those of us who have pets but for whatever reason can’t get them out for regular exercise, perhaps asking a neighbour, friend or younger relative to help out in this regard might be something to consider. It might surprise you to see how willing people might be to help out in terms of walking your dog, especially if they are walking their own charge on a regular basis.
When you or your friend or relative is out walking with a pet, do remember bring a poop-scoop or number of bags to clean up any presents that might be deposited on the way. There is nothing worse than seeing fouled footpaths or walkways, particularly where children walk and play.
Be careful too of slippery footpaths in December, and remember darkness falls quickly and early at this time of year. High viz clothing for yourself and indeed your pet is a must, of course.
Obesity-related diseases are by far the most common non-emergency presentations we see in our clinics in Skeldale, and many of them can be minimised or eliminated by regular exercise and good controlled diet.
Can I take this opportunity to thank you all for taking the trouble to read my articles these past 12 months. It has been really enjoyable to write the Vet’s View column, and to receive so many e-mails relating to the topics covered – and indeed so many more which print space did not allow to be addressed. I tried to respond to as many e-mails as I could in relation to questions and queries over the past year.
Keep safe, keep your pets safe AND healthy by doing all you can in terms of looking after them and their health needs. They deserve it. Happy Christmas to all Mayo News readers and I can only end by hoping and praying that 2021 will bring you happiness and good health, both to you and to your pets.

Veterinarian Conal Finnerty MRCVS practises at the Skeldale Vet Clinic in Ballinrobe and Belmullet. Follow the clinic on Facebook, or call 094 9541980 or 087 9185350 to make an appointment.