Less than half of pet owners believe annual checkups are necessary - Veterinary Practice
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Less than half of pet owners believe annual checkups are necessary

A new survey from Hill’s Pet Nutrition has revealed that UK pet owners underestimate the importance of vet check ups and are unaware of the early signs of cancer that could save their pet’s life

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New market research from Hill’s Pet Nutrition reveals that two-thirds of pet owners report they don’t take their pets to the vet for checkups as often as they think they should.

Less than half believe they should take their dog or cat to the vet for a checkup every year, meaning many early warning signs and symptoms could be missed even though this is when diseases are more easily treatable.

Over two-thirds of pet owners claim that they proactively check their pets for underlying health issues themselves at least once a year instead of having a checkup done at the vet.

Unfortunately, pet owners don’t recognise the early signs of cancer in pets, making these at-home observations less effective than a vet checkup would be.

Despite over two-thirds of Brits being aware that cats and dogs can get cancer, less than half are aware that early symptoms can include decreased appetite (45 percent), and vomiting (32 percent). 

Many (25 percent) pet owners also feel that they should only go to the vet for a checkup if their pet is unwell, with over two-thirds stating they would only be prompted to call their vet if their pet showed visible signs of illness.

Diseases like cancer in pets are prevalent with one in four dogs and one in five cats developing cancer in their lifetime.

With the best chance for a successful cancer treatment being early detection, this Pet Cancer Awareness Month, Hill’s Pet Nutrition is launching “The Call”.

An important month-long movement to build awareness of pet cancer in the UK, encouraging pet owners to take one simple action – call their vet to book their pet’s annual checkup and encourage others to do the same.

Over half of pet owners are also put off by vet checkups due to the potential cost (59 percent), with financial concerns being more of a blocker than concerns over receiving bad news.

To address worries of potential expenses and as part of “The Call”, Hill’s Pet Nutrition is also partnering with veterinary clinics across the UK to donate Hill’s products to pet parents in need.

Hill’s understands that treatment can be expensive, so the brand is working with clinics to help donate free food to those in need.

Hillary Pearce, DVM, MRCVS, Associate Manager of Professional and Veterinary Affairs at Hill’s Pet Nutrition says: “Pets are good at hiding their illnesses and pain, so an early checkup is vital to check for symptoms before conditions worsen.

“We understand that financial pressures do exist, so this Pet Cancer Awareness Month, we’re donating to our partners and encouraging the nation to simply make ‘The Call’ so we can address and treat diseases, like cancer, as fast as we can and before it is too late.”

The survey from Hill’s Pet Nutrition also revealed that over a third of pet owners are put off by the perceived time it will take to get their pet checked, but the average healthy pet consultation time is just 15 minutes.

Nick Bacon, a professor at the University of Surrey School of Veterinary Medicine and clinical director of AURA Veterinary (a specialist veterinary oncology hospital that has partnered with Hill’s Pet Nutrition to spread the importance of regular veterinary checks), says: “Cancer in pets should no longer be considered a death sentence.

“Some symptoms of cancer can be the same as in people, like a visible growth, but others are harder to detect.

“It is important to have your pet checked at least once a year with your family veterinary surgeon to spot subtle signs that can be easily missed.

“Pets are living longer than ever before, and we are treating over 1000 patients per year following a visit to their local vet. Early cancer detection can result in a cure or at least reduce the need for invasive, complex and expensive therapies in many cases.

“UK data from 2002 shows 2.6 percent of insured dogs each year are diagnosed with benign and malignant tumours, equal to over 75,000 dogs per year.

“From Hill’s market survey, we know that a significant proportion of pet owners are missing the opportunity for early diagnosis, so the true incidence is likely to be much higher.”

For more information on Hill’s Pet Nutrition’s campaign, “The Call”, visit their website.

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