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Sunday, October 07, 2001

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Master health check-up for pets


THE PATIENT is wheeled in to the theatre. Rekha, a 11-year-old German Shepherd, is to undergo a scan of the abdomen. Her fore and hind legs are firmly clamped down on the wheeled stretcher by attendants of the Madras Veterinary College hospital after ensuring that the muzzle is in place.

The gel is evenly spread and Prof.S.Prathaban of the Veterinary Clinical Medicine unit places the `probe'- from the lower abdomen to the chest - his eyes glued to the monitor.

Rekha's master, Mr.M.S.Mani, looks concerned. Rekha has refused food for almost a week. In fact, she had to be carried to the hospital. Preliminary treatment for intestinal worms had little effect. Pinning his faith on senior academics at the hospital, Mr.Mani opted for a comprehensive check for his faithful companion. ``Ten years ago, when theft was common in Anna Nagar, it was Rekha who always remained on guard,'' he muses.

Dr.Prathaban signals the attendant to take the patient away. The scanning over, the vets want to analyse the X-ray report as well before deciding on further treatment. Mr.Mani will get a comprehensive report of the check up in a couple of days, though vets will inform him earlier of the regime of treatment as liver cirhossis could not be completely ruled out.

Representations from pet owners and veterinarians have been flowing in for quite sometime to extend a Master Health Check-up facility for pet animals, says Dr.Archibald David, Director- Clinics. There are hardly any private diagnostic centres to provide the assistance and even the `labs' that agree to help- out prefer to schedule the scanning during lean hours. The check- up, comprising ultrasound, ECG, endoscopy, X rays and serum biochemistry, costs Rs.1,000 per pet. The hospital authorities say this does not cover the cost of expendable material.

Dr.S.Thilagar, Professor of Clinics, emphasising the need for periodical checks for pet animals at least once in two years, says the investigations done at diagnostic centres tend to have a margin of error, as in general they were not aware of the nature of anatomy of animals.

By S. Shanker

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