Okay guys. Today I’m here to speak about a topic that’s very near and dear to my heart. Animal healthcare. This is not a writing related blog entry, but I hope it will be an educational one so please continue reading. It’s gonna be a long one though. ^.^
Many of you may not know this about me, but until December of 2020 when I quit to go full time as an author and publisher, I spent my entire adult life in animal healthcare. We’re talking from 2000-2020. Yeah.
My experience is mainly in clinic settings, but I have worked with wildlife and avian rescues, nutritionists, run a rescue, and much more over the years. In clinic I have done everything from cleaning kennels and working the front desk to diagnostics and assisting in surgeries and treatments. I have worked in numerous facilities, so please trust me when I say I know what I’m talking about.
So why am I telling you this? Because I have reached my limit of being able to tolerate seeing people say things like ‘vets are only out for your money’ and ‘vets don’t care about your pet or know anything’ when they clearly have no idea how hurtful and ignorant that statement is. What’s more, they couldn’t be more wrong. So I want to explain WHY neither of those things are true in a light that you might not have considered before.
Now bear with me on this. When someone goes to medical school to become a doctor they have an absolutely insurmountable amount of information to learn JUST to get the basics of healthcare under their belt before they graduate. While they are in school for a long time compared to many degrees, they still have a finite amount of time to learn those things and thus get basically the ‘condensed’ version of any subject.
Now, consider this. It takes anywhere from eight to fourteen years to become a doctor. It takes eight to ten to become a veterinarian. Here’s the thing… You aren’t just learning about one species in vet school, you’re learning about dozens. As you can imagine, the abbreviated courses relating to certain aspects of health are often even more abbreviated than with human medicine, which makes you kind of cock your head when you think about how many more species they have to learn about.
Why am I telling you this? Well, because you need to understand that a veterinarian is basically the equivalent of a general practitioner in human medicine. They have a grasp of the basics and can treat most common issues. HOWEVER. If your pet has a specific issue that is outside of the information they are familiar with or their experience, it might start getting a little more complicated to treat your patient. They might even recommend you go to a specialist. Are they doing it because they somehow benefit from it or because they are lazy? No. They are sending you to the specialist because said person has devoted their career entirely to one aspect of pet care, and have thus become familiar with quite a bit more knowledge than the average vet might have on the subject.
If you can’t or are unwilling to go to a specialist, treating your pet at the general practice can become more complicated. Why? Because your vet has to start trying to research potential causes for an issue they may not necessarily feel qualified to treat. Even when using peer research and connecting with other veterinarians, it may still take multiple tries to come up with a plan that works and shows improvement, and even that isn’t a guarantee. “Well why would they treat my pet if they don’t know what’s going to happen or if they don’t feel like they know what they are doing?” I’ll tell you why. Because you can’t afford to go to the specialist they feel can help you, or you won’t. They want your pet to get better, so they are going to try. And every time it doesn’t work they will want to try again because they WANT your pet better and feel helpless since their hands are tied and they can’t do anything about the fact that you aren’t going to see the person most qualified to address the issue.
While we’re on the subject, lets talk about pet nutrition because this is a sore spot for me too. This same above information applies to nutrition in clinic settings as well. Your vet only got the basics on pet health nutrition. In an ever changing market there are far too many variables for the average person to keep up with considering the numberless amounts of fads, diets, and tiktok professionals trying to tell people how they should be feeding their pets. They know what the scientific research done by companies trusted by the industry say. They know what the veterinarian research studies say. They know the basic components that are important both to make up your pets food and to avoid in your pets food. No, they aren’t trying to sell you veterinary diets because they get some sort of incentive for it. They don’t. The incentive is they don’t have to keep treating your pet for medical issues over and over that could have prevented with a food they KNOW will solve the issue.
And while we’re on the subject of nutrition, I need to tell you something you won’t like to hear. The internet is full of people who claim to know more than medical professionals and yet have no formal certificates or training to support their education on the matter of animal nutrition. No animal husbandry degrees, no independent programs, no relevant workplace experience. Why in the name of hell everyone has decided to listen to a bunch of strangers on the internet and not a medical professional that’s familiar with your animals actual medical history I will never know.
Are there trash diets on the market? Sure. There’s trash food in the grocery store too. Are certain foods more like eating Chinese takeaway than a salad? Yeah. But again, that doesn’t mean the food is wholly without nutrition and that it should be discounted all together.
NOT ALL KIBBLE IS TRASH AND IF YOU SAY IT IS YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT.
Also, not all pets can be maintained on a homemade diet, and my experience in the field tells me that about eighty percent of people will NOT maintain the exacting standards of ingredients and supplements required to maintain a homemade diet because it is way more complicated than you think to get the full spectrum of their needs met. Home diets are labor intensive and judging by the lack of compliance with general feeding guidelines (people love to over feed their dogs despite repeated concerns being expressed for the pets obesity and exact guidelines being given or giving a pet who needs a prescription diet an over the counter diet then having to bring the pet in repeatedly for issues the food would have addressed if they stayed on it like they were told), compliance is likely to be low and the pet will be the one to pay. Please stop telling people to do this when you have no idea what the compliance rate and resources are like.
Nutrition is WAY more complicated than what ingredients are listed in what order on the label. Just because you don’t understand the formal name of an item on the list doesn’t make it a dangerous chemical. And marketing has been scaring you into believing words like ‘biproduct’ or ‘corn’ are the devil, when they aren’t. Biproduct does not mean trash devoid of nutritional content. Corn does not mean filler. These foods have a purpose and are incorporated into diet in a way that allows them to be processed efficiently by the pets body. Don’t get angry because your vet doesn’t sound keen on your trying some internet fad. They are trying to think about what’s best for your pet and a rando diet a so-called expert informed you was better than that ‘trash’ prescription diet designed to keep your cat from forming bladder stones has no scientific backing to show it’s effective so no, they are not going to tell you it’s okay to feed.
I have fed multiple types of kibble over the years, as well as prescription diets and homemade diets under the direction and suggestion of veterinarians. I’ve done extra curricular certifications in pet nutrition. I have seen for myself over twenty years what works and what doesn’t. If your vet recommends something, there’s a reason. If your vet tells you to avoid something, there is a reason. Please don’t discount what they say based on what some internet warrior says, especially if your vet has always been reliable and caring about your pets health before. It’s great to do research but you need to be objective and actually get into the meat of the scientific research about balance and ratios, not just read what a blogger has written on a site dedicated to a specific style of pet diets where all the people think the same.
Now lets skip to the next issue…. “They are only in it for the money.”
Do you have any concept of the amount of money it takes to run a business? Not only do they pay rent, utilities, insurance, payroll, etc., they have to purchase medical equipment that can range from four to five digit numbers and sometimes higher (thousands and thousands of dollars for radiograph machines, processing machines, ultrasound, surgery sweet lights, surgery tables, dental tables, dental machines, computers, anesthesia machines, sterilizing equipment, bloodwork machines, I could go on and on and on. Literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment alone. Equipment that constantly needs updated. Oh, and they also have to purchase inventory ahead so there are thousands of dollars of medications, medical supplies, foods, grooming, parasite control, and innumerable other medications that they have to keep in stock in multiple sizes at all times to make sure they can treat your pets without delay. There are licenses to maintain, there are kennels to create, vehicles to maintain (for large animal vets), and more things than I can even list. Just because they took an oath does not mean they can afford to care for your pet for free or at a loss of profit. Why? Because if they did, then they’d go out of business and no one would be there to provide care for your pet at all.
If you have an issue with what you plan to spend on your pet, then you need to be up front in advance about having a budget and needing to know each cost before your pet is treated so that you can make informed choices about how far you are willing to go to treat your pet (but please don’t ask them to call you while your dog is under anesthesia so you can decide if you want rotten teeth pulled or not. Your pet doesn’t need to sit around waiting under anesthesia for you to decide if it’s worth the money for you to take the bad teeth out that are making them miserable or not, just do it for god sake). Also understand that if they give you an estimate it’s just that, an estimate. They have no idea what their going to find when they get into your pets gut on an exploratory, or what kind of awful dental issues were revealed once they chipped away the years worth of tarter on your pets teeth. They have to charge you for treatments in order to be able to stay open and continue to provide them.
Please, for the love of god, STOP claiming they are only in it for the money. Please, stop claiming they don’t care. The veterinary healthcare field has one of the highest rates of suicide amongst it’s doctors, and the staff are known to suffer from depression and anxiety. It is an emotionally heart wrenching, and often thankless job where we (the entire staff) witness horrible injustice, abuse, neglect, heart breaking and unfair twists of fate, and the loss of beloved patients and friends on a daily basis, all while people try to make them feel guilty for needing to charge for the services. Believe me, if they could feed their families and still do it for free, they would. No one is in this field because of the glory. It’s a filthy often times undignified job where staff and vets work over sometimes late into the night, without lunch or breaks, just to make sure your pets are cared for.
Just food for thought.