I recently attended a Veterinary Club Practice seminar and Dr Tom Mulholland spoke about his healthy community initiative in an after-dinner speech. He reminded us of the importance of looking out for ourselves and each other, reiterated the importance of regular heath checks, taking medication as prescribed and refilling your scripts when medication was finishing. The story he told to reinforce this was specifically about blood pressure medication, mentioning several cases where people were taken to the emergency department with severe brain haemorrhages. Many of these were people who were on continuous hypertension or high blood pressure medication, their scripts had not been refilled or they hadn’t been back to their medical practitioner. The high blood pressure and lack of medication had directly led to a catastrophic result.
Regular health checks are similarly important in cats and dogs. When animals have changes in eating habits, toileting behaviour or general demeanour (outward behaviour) we have a responsibility to look out for them and get their health checked. Health checks can be as simple as a clinical examination or may include additional diagnostic checks such as blood tests and urine assessment. In the veterinary field we place similar importance on completing medication courses as prescribed. Our industry is implementing modification to our prescribing and usage of antibiotics on farms. The importance of taking the correct dosage and using the entire course prescribed is something we all have responsibility to implement.
High blood pressure causes similar health issues in cats and dogs as it does in people. It can lead to degeneration in the eyes and kidneys, and is associated as a cause of death in many aged animals. Historically, routine blood pressure monitoring was a difficult process to perform accurately with cats and dogs as they can be extremely sensitive to movement or touch during examination in a clinic setting, but new, modern equipment has improved the ability to accurately measure blood pressure in small animals.
There are benefits from looking out for ourselves, each other and our pets. When things aren’t normal the benefits of seeking and following professional advice can be huge.