12 Jun 2016

An Afternoon at the Beach and Tickle's Health Check

A couple of days ago Tickle and I went down to our local beach. It was nice to resume that sweet habit that we had been neglecting over Autumn and the Winter months. We walked down the main road and then obliqued through the back lanes, past a cluster of houses, and then embraced the lowland and the marshes, checking the wildlife as we strolled along, an eye to the right where just above the lush pasture line, the blue of the sky meets up in conversation with the blue of the sea and both shimmer and mesmerize.

We took that little curved lane that gently and whimsically leads us to the beach, past myrtle bushes and other hedgerow delights. And then the path opened up to the shoreline, cluttered with heaps of dried up Posidonia oceanica, otherwise known as Neptune Grass or Mediterranean Tapeweed, a seagrass endemic to the Mediterranean sea whose clusters form dense meadows across sandy seabeds (at depths of typically 1–35m, i.e. 3.3–114.9ft). The grass sheds its ribbon-like foliage either naturally or during storms, that ends up shored up onto beaches into compact cushion-like stratae, resulting into heaps of brown grass deposits that we call 'banquettes'. Those might look disgraceful once piled up there on the sand but think what they look like under the sea when they are still attached to their clump, dancing to the current like a mermaid's mane hiding in its strands a rich sea life and oxygenating the water at the same time!

Tickle & Posidonia oceanica

I sat on the beach and Tickle laid down by my feet. And there we were, soaking up the views and the sunshine. My little companion is taking life in a mellower stride these days but it never takes long for the boisterous JRT natural instincts to spring up to the surface! Notwithstanding age is catching up with him somewhat. Although I will never know for sure his exact age, having rescued him as a young dog from the pound back in August 2006, I can only assume that he may be 10 and a half years old, maybe 11.

With this in mind, I took him to the vet's two months ago in order for him to undergo a full health check. In his case, he fell under the Senior Dog Health Check. He was weighed (just under 10kg, approx. 20lbs, which is ideal for a JRT), had a general inspection of his body, and a blood test. The vet was satisfied with the fact that Tickle had been on a veg-rich diet all of his life, which is now becoming more significant as he's reaching his golden years. Then off for a little dental clean: his teeth had a scale and polish under light IV sedation in order to remove built-up tartar which - if left unremoved - will bring a variety of ailments. The result was impressive as Tickle came out with Hollywood gleaming white teeth!

A scratchy nose?

Then the mutt had an echography to check his internal organs and, thank God, he passed with flying colours! All in all, he was given the all-clear except for one (currently minor) health concern: early-stages cataract. This has been creeping up on his eyes for the last 4 months, I believe. The condition affects most dogs as they age and leads to blindness if left untreated. I had noticed a very faint very localised clouding towards the centre of his lenses but this isn't noticeable unless you are actually looking for it, and there it was confirmed to me by the vet. She prescribed an Omega 3-rich fish oil treatment combined to an amino acid food supplement that both claim to slow down the onset of cataract and will keep my little friend comfortable. Eventually his eyesight will get affected to the point that eye surgery may have to be considered, as the only viable treatment to reverse cataract. It is a common practice nowadays with excellent results - if undertaken by a competent vet surgeon. Mine doesn't carry out eye operations but she would be happy to refer Tickle, should we wish to go ahead with the operation.

If you are a pet owner, I would recommend regular pet health checks, especially as regards life stages. In any case, once your pet gets to a certain age, I would insist you have them undergo a thorough health check and then keep up with bi-annual visits at the very least, or as per the vet's recommendations. In our case, we'll be back at the vet's in 4 months from now for a follow-up. In the meantime, we'll keep on enjoying the little pleasures of life, and our walks down the beach are definitely one of them!

Further Reading on Senior Dog Health:

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