It’s that time of year again. That “Holy smokes! Christmas is over and a new year is starting — where did the time go?” time of year. It’s shocking to think how fast time goes by. I am told on a regular basis from older family members and friends that time only goes faster as you age. It makes you wish you had a way to slow things down, enjoying more quality time with family and friends. It kind of makes me wish I had a time machine.
If you were to poll my family and friends, there are a few things that they would all be likely to tell you about me. One thing for certain would be repeated: “Marisa loves ‘Doctor Who.’” If you aren’t familiar with it, “Doctor Who” is a British TV show that started in 1963. It is about the adventures of an alien time-traveler and his human traveling companions. “The Doctor” has a time machine, and they fly about time and space and combat many evil forces.
I often wonder how much easier my job would be if I had a time machine. I think about the evil forces of infection, parasites, tumors and organ failure that I could defeat. I could travel back in time and stop my arch nemeses before they affected the pets in our families. Perhaps, some would argue, that would be a poor use of time travel in the big picture. But certainly it would make me a happier veterinarian and bring about healthier and happier times with our pets. I think it would make the world a better place. Happy pets mean happier owners.
If you think about it, we have a way to combat those particular medical evil forces in our current time. Medical testing with early detection is often the key to winning the battle with many diseases. We have routine medical tests, such as heartworm tests, organ profiles, complete blood cell counts, X-rays, fecal tests and countless other tools at our disposal. If we don’t use the proper screening available, many diseases will continue to ruin our beloved pets’ quality of life and decrease their lifespans.
Consider how many issues we could avoid if we were more proactive in our pets’ medical care. We could eradicate all flea infestations in homes around the world if we all would use proper monthly flea control for our cats and dogs. Ending the flea epidemic worldwide would certainly be a victory over one of veterinary medicine’s arch enemies. I can’t tell you how many cat owners tell me that they don’t use flea control for their cat because the kitty stays inside completely. That’s when I run a flea-comb through their itchy indoor kitty’s fur, and I inevitably find flea dirt and live fleas. I would take my time machine back to before the first flea found that furry friend and stop the infestation before thousands of flea eggs were dispersed in the environment.
Getting your pets spayed or neutered is also a great way to avoid many diseases. One deadly example of a common disease affecting intact female dogs and cats is a disease called pyometra. Pyometra is a uterine infection. It can affect any un-spayed female and usually happens a few weeks to months after a heat cycle. This is a life-threatening disease and can make a female dog very ill surprisingly quickly. The best way to avoid the uterine infection altogether is to get your dog or cat spayed at an appropriate age, usually as a six-month old puppy or kitten.
Owners of pets with pyometra often tell me, “I wish we would have gotten her spayed when she was little.” When people are faced with an avoidable life-threatening diagnosis, it is usually then that everyone wishes that they had done something about it earlier. They don’t even know it, but they are wishing to use that time machine.
As much as I enjoy the idea of traveling time and space with “The Doctor” to fix my patients’ problems before they begin, time travel is not possible. We can only use the best tools we have at hand to ensure that our pets lead healthier and happier lives. If we all would act sooner and not procrastinate when it comes to regular veterinary care, more diseases would be detected earlier, parasitic infections could be prevented and deadly infections such as pyometra could be avoided. If that were the case that imaginary time machine could be used for some other good, such as watching all of the future episodes of “Downton Abbey.”