When I qualified as a veterinarian some years ago things were very different in a busy practice and this week creates an opportunity to reflect briefly on these changes.
Firstly, a considerable number of daily surgeries were orthopedics performed on dogs that had suffered an "MVA" or "motor vehicle accident" . In those days most properties were unfenced and dogs wandered freely.
Secondly, a relatively large number of dogs suffered from feed related problems ranging from skin and bone diseases to flatulence.
These day's pets are restricted to their home turf for their own good and that of their humans and it is hard to say whether or not this is due to laws governing pets or law - lessness governing humans but either way, surgery profiles have changed.
It is remarkable that it is apparently only since the advent of electricity and the vacuum cleaner during the fifties that pets have really become part of the family and have been invited inside suburban homes. More recently, excellent research and the development of pet foods perfectly balanced to the actual requirements of the said pets have made a significant difference to skin, bones and to the antisocial vices of those pets.
Modern pet foods supply the essential energy nutrients of fats, starches and proteins in the correct proportions, finely balanced with vitamins and minerals for the absolute optimum nutrition for any particular dog or life stage. All that remains is to ensure an adequate supply of good clean water. The result is pets usually live to almost double the previous limits with high levels of vitality and fitness, while those moth-eaten skins are seen far less frequently these days and specific diets have been produced for dogs that have particular sensitivities.
Properly balanced proteins enhance immunity with the result that, together with modern vaccines, pets are able to resist disease to a much greater extent. Mineral and vitamin intakes are so much improved that the onset of arthritis and joint pains seems too much greater ages and here too specific diets are available for dogs that may have a predisposition to skeletal problems. Unfortunately, all of this comes with a small disadvantage in the tantalizing flavors now used to enhance the pet's enthusiasm for its meal, which is now associated with excessive conditions, even approaching obesity in pets of unwary owners.
Who knows, modern curious children may be left to marvel at a new set of similarities in old friends.
*This week we, at Veterinary House, as well as most other veterinarians in town are sterilising pets at below cost on behalf of the SPCA Pietermaritzburg, which have elected to assist people in the remote rural areas who normally cannot afford such surgery