The world is a busy place and Nigeria is no exception. Our “To-Do Lists” are usually filled with various activities we have to carry out, all within 24hrs! So, it’s no surprise that more and more pet owners require veterinary home services for their pet. There is simply no time (for some) to take their pets to the vet. However, what is surprising is meeting pet owners who have no form of record of their pet’s health. From my interactions with such pet owners, I’ve discovered that many don’t understand the need for such medical records.
Having your pet’s health properly documented is essential and indeed advantageous. Here are some of reasons why you may consider adopting this habit.
It shows responsible pet ownership
This is quite simple and clear. A responsible pet owner would ensure that the details of his/her pet(s) medical history are properly documented. By doing this, you get more involved in your pet’s health and consequently life.
It enables smooth continuation or transition of pet treatment
This is one of the obvious benefits. Sometimes for diverse reasons you might need the services of a vet professional other than your local vet. It could be as a result of a referral, a change in location or dissatisfaction with your primary vet. Whatever the reasons, the knowledge of previous pet treatment will help the new vet moving forward.
It aids the vet to make future diagnoses quicker
When a vet is called to intervene in a case, a pet medical record makes it easier and quicker for the vet to make the right diagnosis. He/she would know what treatments the pet has hitherto been given and thus can easily rule out some tentative diagnosis. For example, if a dog isn’t eating well and is looking dull. A quick look at the medical records of said dog can rule out worm infestation if it was documented that the dog was dewormed recently. Otherwise, the vet is back to square one and might have to assume the dog has not been dewormed recently (especially when the owner doesn’t know when last his dog was dewormed-this is common with people that have several pets).
It helps to identify quacks
Quackery in veterinary practice has become a common trend in Nigeria and other countries. It has thus become necessary for the responsible and loving pet owner to know how to identify quacks (a topic I’ll address in details in a future post). So how can my dog’s medical card help me identify a quack, you might ask? The answer is all in the details.
It starts with the issuance of a medical card by the attending vet. In Nigeria, this card is commonly called a “green card” (although, a couple of vets have their own customized cards which may or may not be green in colour). A competent vet that delivers home services would ensure that his/her patient has a health card where the patient’s medical details are recorded. A vet that doesn’t take out time to fill this card with relevant observations and treatment after a visit/examination should call for further questioning by the pet owner.
By scrutinizing your pet’s card, you can observe how often a routine treatment is carried out- if it’s too frequent than necessary. It’s also possible to notice if your vet signs off with his/her full name, VCN (Veterinary Council of Nigeria) Number and signature ( as should be) or just an abstract signature. These little clues can help reveal your vet’s competency (or lack thereof).
It helps in documenting pet allergies and adverse effects
This is one of my favourites benefits of keeping your pet’s health documented. Many are unaware that just as humans have allergies and adverse reactions to drugs, the same is true of animals. Unfortunately, a lot of people have lost pets due to this. Pet Allergens are usually in the form of food and environment allergens. Common allergens include dust, dander, feathers, mould spores, perfume, cleaning agents, food ingredients like corn, soy, meat, chicken etc.
Some pets react adversely to certain drugs-this is basically because of their biological and genetic makeup. A proper record of such reactions will help vets make informed decisions when treating such pets.
It makes it easier to travel with your pet
Many Nigerians are unaware that the Nigerian Police and Custom officials inspect pets when travelling (interstate) to avoid the spread of disease. So, having an updated pet medical record means no police wahala¹ and a smooth journey.
Another aspect I should address affects those that have several pets and hence, several pet health cards. It’s expedient to ensure that the cards are properly named and recorded for each pet.
It is said that the ink is better than the strongest memory and so it is that notwithstanding your excellent memory skills, having your pet’s health documented is the ideal thing to do!
¹wahala=Nigerian slang for trouble