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Julia’s Weekly Column For The Middy

“She doesn’t much like being poked about…”

I’m not generally too pleased when a loving owner shares this with me at the start of a consultation. Does my paying customer really think that I am ‘poking their pet about’?

I imagine that what they are trying to tell me is either “My pet will bite you as soon as you start”, or “I don’t know why you poke her belly like that – I wouldn’t like it done to me.”

Or maybe I am just being stupidly sensitive, because of course I never have (and am never going to) ‘poke’ any pet about!

What I can do, and do do, is to use my fingertips to assess the internal organs. I suppose it looks like I’m just stroking their flanks (or ‘poking them about’!), but over the years my fingertips have become as useful to me for ‘seeing’ inside an abdomen as an x-ray or ultrasound scan can be.

The first time I was really sure I was learning this vital veterinary skill was when I was a 4th year Vet student working at a practice in Huddersfield.

One of the Vets had called me in that morning, but would not say why. He asked me to palpate the abdomen of a young female cat, who seemed in excellent health at first glance.

Immediately the light bulb went on in my head! There were four perfect little round masses, each about the size of a snooker ball in her belly. She was four weeks pregnant, and I could actually tell! I was overjoyed! It was like Christmas, Fireworks Night and a Birthday all rolled into one.

Just the other day, I detected a crab apple in a Labrador with my fingertips, so next time I go quiet in the consulting room and start running my fingertips over your pet’s flanks – remember I am not poking her about, I am using a highly tuned diagnostic instrument.

All the staff at the Mewes Vets would like to invite you to our Christmas Party this Saturday 12th December at 11am. We will be serving mince pies and warm mulled wine or cocoa, and announcing the winner our Calendar competition who will receive £100 worth of pet food. Come along to meet the team, and support the Medical Detection Dogs Charity.

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