12 Things Your Vet Does Not Want You To Know!
You love your pet, and you hope your vet cares about his or her health as much as you do. Most ethical vets and successful vets don't need to push unnecessary products and procedures, but others have a financial agenda that may not be in your pet's best interest.
Here are some tips and warning signs to help you make your vet dollars go farther, and to help you keep your pet in the best health possible.
#1 Vets See You Coming Before You Walk Through The Door
Many animal clinics and hospitals keep comprehensive records of temperament and behavior—of both your pet and you! A client whose behavior is aggressive or excessively emotional will be treated differently from the average client. And that’s not always a good thing. So even though issues with your pet's health can be emotionally charged; keep your cool.
#2 Recommended Vaccination Protocols Have Changed
Research over the last 15 years has shown that following the first year puppy booster shot, vaccinations need only be given once every three years. That’s bad news for many practices. Annual vaccinations are part of a recurring revenue model that brings patients in for an annual physical exam along with highly profitable vaccinations. These annual exams are also opportunities to up-sell the visit with recommendations for dental cleanings or prescription diet foods.
Worse yet, vaccines are not as safe as they were once regarded, and most vets are aware of this research. Rabies vaccinations are available in three year durations, so you can time your booster shots with the rabies booster. If your veterinary practice refuses to treat your pet unless it is “up-to-date” on its annual vaccinations, it’s time to find a new vet.
#3 Neutering Male Dogs Has No Appreciable Health Benefits
It seems that many vets want to put themselves out of business by spaying and neutering all pets at as early an age as possible. Some are even altering 6-8 week old kittens and puppies.
The fact is, intact male dogs live longer and are healthier than their neutered counterparts. For both male and female dogs, the earlier they are spayed or neutered, the greater the risks for contracting osteosarcoma, cardiac hemangiosarcoma, uninary tract cancer and prostate cancer as they age. All pets need to reach sexual maturity prior to being altered; animals need the hormones from the reproductive organs to properly develop male and female attributes, bone and other organs.
If you decide to spay or neuter your pet, wait at least until your pet is one year old before the procedure. If you decide to leave your male intact, don’t allow him to roam freely. Studies that indicate that intact males dog don’t live as long as neutered dogs, also determined that their lives were shorter due to being hit by cars (not due to disease) while on a Romeo roam.
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#4 Testing For Heartworms Annually Is Not Required
If your pet stays on heartworm preventative year round and is on an ivermectin based preventative, annual heartworm testing is not necessary. See why in the next section.
#5 Minor Heartworm Infestations Do Not Require Expensive Heartworm Treatments
Treatment of heartworm infestations can easily cost $3000.00. More than many families can afford to spend on even the most beloved pet.
If your dog is asymptomatic, and there is no coughing due to heartworms migrating into the lungs, your dog may be eligible to be treated with a normal course of ivermectin based preventative.
Ivermectin will not kill existing heartworms in an asymptomatic dog, but it will prevent new eggs from hatching. A dog with one to three heartworms will not get infested with more worms with monthly ivermectin preventative given, and the existing worms will die of old age over the course of a year, and be absorbed into the animals system.
#6 Most Vets Are Willing to Price Match Online Vet Retailers
Don’t be afraid to ask! If you are in need of heartworm or flea and tick preventatives, vets want that business. It’s a major profit center for them.
Before going to your vet, go online to a Pet-med retailer, and fill your shopping cart with the medicines you need for your pet. Then proceed towards checkout. Before purchasing the products, do a print screen and print out the shopping cart with the shipping costs included.
Ask your vet if he will be willing to match the online price; if so, present him with the online offer. If your vet won’t price match, you can ask him for a prescription and purchase the products online yourself. In most instances the vet will prefer to keep that transaction in house. It never hurts to ask.
#7 Many Pet Medications Are Available in Human Generic Form
In fact, Walgreens posts a list of animal medicines that are available in human generic form that can be administered for pennies per day. If your pet has a chronic condition that requires ongoing medications, check with your vet and pharmacy about getting those prescriptions filled at the people pharmacy rather than at the vet. A good vet should be sympathetic to the cost concerns related to treating ongoing medical conditions.
#8 How to Make Sure Your Vet Is Current In Veterinary Technology
When shopping for a new vet or if you are curious about your existing vet, one simple question can tell you whether they are practicing 21st Century veterinary medicine. Ask what medications the practice uses for anesthesia. If he says he uses ketamine or halothane gas, that’s a bad sign. You want to hear that they are using isoflurane and sevoflurane since both of these medications are much safer.
#9 The Real Reason Pet Euthanasia Increases in November and December of Each Year
Many pet owners decide that their pet’s needs are too burdensome as they prepare for the holidays. Convenience euthansias increase substantially every year in anticipation of the holidays. There are no regulations regarding thresholds that must be met in order to euthanize a pet, but ethical veterinarians will refuse to euthanize a pet without adequate evidence of its suffering or a substantially diminished quality of life.
How to Calm Your Dog in the Vet Waiting Room
#10 How to Know if Your Vet Puts Quality of Care Over $$$
One good clue is to look for practice that is proud of their staff. They will typically have a “Staff” page on their website. A vet that values quality technicians will likely have vet techs who are certified or licensed; you will want to see RVT, LVT or CVT after their names.
Having a staff page also indicates long-term stability in staffing, so you can count on getting the same high quality experience on all of your visits to that vet. Practices with high staff turnover suggest a root problem that could also be detrimental to the care of your pet.
#11 Corporate Run Veterinary Chains Pay Their Vets Bonuses Based on Profitability
All veterinary medicine is a business at its core, however large corporations put extra pressures and incentives on their employees in a scale that most local practices don’t experience. While they may lure you in with a special promotion, you are likely to pay more for their services in the long run. Trust a locally owned vet practice to help you prioritize your pet’s veterinary needs and to give you the best deal on necessary services.
#12 The Number One Reason for Pet Euthanasia
Behavior issues are the number one cause for pet re-homing and pet euthanasia. For cats, scratching furniture, curtains and carpets can often be enough to get them re-homed. Before declawing or re-homing, invest in a cat tree to keep kitty off of your furniture. Place the cat tree near a window, and pepper it with catnip to bond your kitty to his new condo.
Dog owners experiencing aggression and fear aggression issues, often find that this behavior intensifies with age. Vets get very little training in behavior modification while in vet school, and as time goes by, most vets themselves have a very low tolerance for aggression in their patients.
If you are experiencing issues of aggression or incontinence/marking issues and there is no underlying medical condition, ask for a referral to a behavior expert with experience with your pet’s issue. It is best to explore every avenue and resource available before making such a heartbreaking decision.