Not everything we learn in school remains with us for life, but sometimes a random comment made by a teacher can make a lifelong impression. Such is the case with the title of this blog. I guess I remembered it because it represents a fundamental truth of veterinary medicine.
Chronic diseases, as the name implies, develop over time, so their course tends to be slow and gradual. Therefore, even the most dedicated of owners don’t notice it right from the start. It is only when the pet shows overt symptoms that it becomes apparent that something is wrong and medical assistance is sought.
So often as a practitioner I am told by owners that the golf ball sized tumor on the dog’s belly “wasn’t there yesterday”, or that the increased frequency of urination of a diabetic started barely a few days ago… It is important to understand that these owners are not lying, nor are they embarrassed to tell the truth. They truly believe that their pet’s ailment appeared acutely and it’s quite a challenge for the doctor to convince them otherwise.
The reason for this strange nature of diseases in veterinary medicine is simply that pets are still animals, meaning they are guided by instincts and codes of survival. They hide their weakness, pain or discomfort for as long as they can. Only when they cannot compensate anymore do they start to show symptoms. A cat with kidney failure often presents to the veterinary hospital severely dehydrated and weak. A dog with cancerous tumor in the spleen is commonly seen after the tumor, sometimes twice the size of a baseball, suddenly starts bleeding internally and causes the dog to collapse. Hence, even chronic diseases appear acutely.
It is therefore essential that we have a better system to monitor our beloved pets’ health. Early diagnosis may be the difference between complete recovery and debilitating conditions. The smart PetPace collar does just that – monitoring the daily vital signs of your pet to detect those subtle changes, the early telltale signs that a disease is developing. It helps veterinarians and owners break the pet’s “code of silence” and make chronic diseases show-up early, when they truly are acute, and not just disguised as acute.
Dr. Asaf Dagan, DVM, DABVP, CVA, LLB
Chief Veterinary Scientist