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Ask a Vet: Tackle health issue at first sign
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I don’t play college football. I am the size of a smaller linebacker, but have the speed of an elderly penguin. So I am one of the many fans who puts my heart into it then complains when what I’d hoped for doesn’t happen.

Imagine the other team (call them the Bad Guys) has a running back sprinting around the end of the line. Our team (Good Guys, of course) has a defensive end in place, but he misses the tackle. The run could have been stopped there, but no.

Ten yards down the field, our linebacker has a clean shot at the runner, but misses. The damage could have been controlled, but no.

Another 30 yards down the field and our last hope, the safety, trips and falls, failing to tackle the slowing runner. Touchdown, Bad Guys.

Now switch the analogy around. Let’s call the other team diabetes, congestive heart failure or even cancer.

Too many times we see pets with these diseases that were ignored early on. The progression down the field of illness is unidirectional unless you call the right play. And just like that play in football, making the intervention (tackle) at the first chance is your best bet at arresting the progression of the disease.

Call the end zone euthanasia. Call the safety, our last line of defense, hospitalization or possibly hospice care. The linebacker is involved treatment at home and in the hospital. But that defensive end, he’s the guy we want making the tackle. We want to catch the disease when it’s barely even detectable, before significant damage is done.

How do you do this? Pay attention. If your dog or cat starts drinking an unusual amount of water, something may be up. If they strain to urinate, tire more easily when walked or begin losing weight, get them checked out.

I recommend general blood work for otherwise healthy pets as they age. Some owners question the need if no signs are evident. I guess I just want to see that defensive end squash the Bad Guy. So to speak.

Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at

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