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On the road: PDSA PetCheck Tour is back

This month will see the PDSA's custom designed PetCheck vehicles hit the road once more to provide people up and down the country with pet care advice.

In the 15 years the PetCheck Tour has been running, 66,000 dogs have received free MOTs and 90,000 owners have had their questions answered by a specially-trained team of community vet nurses. There is also a range of preventative services on board, such as nail clipping and ear cleaning.

The tour is a vital part of the PDSA's education and outreach work to help owners improve their pet's wellbeing. In 1923 PDSA’s founder, Maria Dickin, converted a gypsy caravan into the first ever mobile vet clinic.

Maria Dickin (left) by 1st horse-drawn caravan 1923

Maria Dickin by 1st horse-drawn caravan 1923

The PetWise MOT assessment framework, developed by PDSA, assesses five welfare needs: diet, environment, companionship, behaviour and health. A simple traffic light system is used to score each of the five needs; plus the owner will receive a personalised action plan for their pet.

Sue Bartlett, Head Community Vet Nurse for PDSA, explains, “We know that people love their pets, but our research shows that owners don’t always fully understand their pets’ needs and how to meet them.

“As a result, our pets may not be as happy and healthy as we think. So by offering free, friendly advice and support at a grass-roots level, we help owners to make small changes that can make a big difference to the wellbeing of their pets.

“Many visitors to PetCheck simply need reassurance, whereas others have specific concerns about their pet. Sometimes it can be as simple as suggesting a change to their diet. Of course, if we come across an issue that we think could be more serious, we advise them to visit a vet. Previously one of our vet nurses discovered a lump on a dog and recommended getting it checked out by a vet. It turned out to be testicular cancer, which was then successfully treated, so PetCheck has potentially lifesaving results.”

PDSA Vet Nurse Kaya Hawrylak meets a Lola the puppy at PetCheck

Last year 4,525 PetWise MOTs were completed and 37 per cent dogs seen did not have needs met such as regular parasite treatments and vaccination boosters. Worryingly, 57 per cent were not wearing ID tags despite being a legal requirement, but PDSA have also seen some improvements. Of the 34 per cent of dogs assessed as having behavioural issues when first seen, PDSA reported a decline to 27 per cent six months later.

To check if PetCheck Tour is visiting an area near you go to https://www.pdsa.org.uk/vet-services/petcheck.