This is a touchy topic. I hope we don’t get tons of hate mail from vets.
PetPlace asked me to write an article about this difficult and controversial topic. In this article, I’d like to address this issue of what veterinarians may not want you the pet owner to know. I’m the Irreverent Veterinarian. I give you my opinion and speak the truth regardless of if pet owners or other veterinarians like it or not. The question that I’ll address today is…What do veterinarians not want you to know?
So…what is it that veterinarians don’t want clients to know? This does not apply to all vets but here are some things that come to mind….
1. A Veterinary Hospital is a Small Business – Most vets don’t want to talk about this – but a vet hospital or clinic is a small business. It is like any other business that requires money for services rendered. It is sometimes hard because vets love animals but they also have bills to pay. They can’t give away services and still be able to pay all the bills and employees.
2. There is a High Profit Margin on Vaccines – Veterinarians don’t want to say but there is a very good profit margin on vaccines. However the margin on treating a sick pet is much lower and the vaccines help to balance that part of the practice. Also, the overhead on a veterinary practice is higher than most people would realize. Another important point is that veterinarians are very careful on where they get their vaccines, how they are shipped, stored and given. Some pet owners and breeders turn to less expensive feed store vaccines which can be associated with vaccine “failures”. These vaccine “failures” are attributed to poor quality products, products given improperly, and/or inadequate storage (refrigeration requirements).
3.They Want to Sell You Preventative Medications – There is also a good profit margin on some of the preventative medications (flea control/heartworm prevention, etc). They would prefer that you buy them from them as opposed to over-the-counter or mail order services. They generally feel that the quality of their products are superior.
4. Vaccines Can be Dangerous – There are some reactions to vaccines that can be life threatening. They are reactively uncommon but when present can be significant. Some pets will have mild allergic reactions and other can have an immune mediate response or develop a tumor (cats). In general, most veterinarians believe that vaccines do way more good than harm and they often don’t emphasize the uncommon reactions as they should. I think they don’t want to scare people away from something that has clear benefits.
5. There is No One in Our Hospital Monitoring Pets at Night – Some hospitals have 24-hour care but most do not. Every hospital has a slightly different situation. Some have staff that live above the clinic and do nighttime treatments and walks/monitoring. Others have no one but have an early shift that walks pets early. If your pet really needs 24-hour care – ask what they offer. Most areas have a local emergency clinic that does offer 24-hour care.
6. Vaccine Recommendations Have Changed – Most veterinarians are up-to-date and have changed with the times. Fifteen years ago – the recommendations for vaccines was yearly updates for both dogs and cats. Some vets still practice this recommendation. However, recent research has indicated that most vaccines last longer than 1-year and most recommendations are to give vaccines every 3 years. Titers (a blood test to determine if a vaccine is needed) are a good option to yearly vaccines.
7. Vets Often Don’t Agree with Breeders – There are often very different opinions about certain issues between veterinarians and breeders. The differences are especially true regarding nutrition.
8. There are Some Things Some Vets are Better At then Others – For example, some practices don’t do many ear cropping and have a lot of complications from a procedure they don’t do that often. Ask the technicians and vet how often they do a particular surgery or procedure if you have any question.
9. You Have Referral Options – Some vets are very eager to refer a complicated medical or surgical case and others are not. If your pet is not improving or you have any question – ask about referral options to seek an opinion from a specialist.
10. I’m not that Familiar or Fond of Alternative Medicine – Most veterinarians are very educated in traditional medicine. Most alternative natural solutions are not proven and some have been harmful to pets. There are some veterinarians that have educated themselves in natural therapies but the majority doesn’t believe in it.
11. Most Vets in General Practice are “GP’s” – A GP is a general practitioner – a doctor with a general ability to treat just about anything. However, this is NOT the same thing as a specialist. A specialist ahs at least 3 years of advanced training after which they take an exam that identifies them as having the board certification. It is impossible to know everything about everything. If you have a critical or complicated cardiology case – it may be best for your pet to see a cardiologist.
12. Vets Have a Low Tolerance for Aggression – Most vets have seen enough nice dogs put to sleep that they have developed a low tolerance for aggression. They have also seen technicians and pet owner unnecessarily injured. Personally, I have no problem euthanizing a healthy aggressive dog.
13. Vets Get Attached – Vets may be professional and try to act as though certain things don’t bother them but often they do. For example, when a patient they have been seeing for years dies – tears are shed. Often in silence or on their own. It is almost as though they have become their family too.
14. Vets Have Bad Days Too – Vets are human too. They can have bad days. I recall having an appointment for which I was running late because I took a friend for a chemotherapy appointment – she was doing poorly and I was upset. I was late. The client was upset. I did apologize but I didn’t explain the situation to the client. I could tell they were mad the entire time. I had my mind elsewhere and probably didn’t care as much as I should have. Vets have bad days too.
15. Cats May be Happier as Indoor/Outdoor Cats – Some cats may be happiest as indoor-outdoor cats. Their life span may be less and there are inherent risks of being outdoor cats. However, a balance of food, shelter at will with the stimulation of outdoor life and make for a very happy at. Based on the outdoor risks, most veterinarians recommend that cats be kept indoors.