We all want to believe that our vet wants what is best for our pets, just like we ourselves do.
Many times they do, but your vet is not always the most educated on every animal health issue.
That, or they are blinded by the dollar signs that pet pharmaceutical companies and pet food companies pay them to promote their products.
One of the keys to finding a good vet is finding an honest vet, and the key to finding an honest vet is asking questions.
“Is Science Diet really the best food out there for my dog?”
“Will this flea and tick preventative hurt my dog?”
“Is vaccinating this many times really necessary?”
These are just a few of the questions you can ask to find out where your vet’s interests are vested, or how informed they are on the latest veterinary science studies and inquiries. I have found, unfortunately, that most vets will swear by Science Diet, regardless of what’s in it and what they know is optimal for your dog’s health. This is because Science Diet is made by Hill’s, a brand originally made by a vet back when vets didn’t know the things they know now (seventy years ago). Ever since then, vet office’s have gotten a slice of the Hill’s Dog Food Manufacturing pie, and the office gets a percentage of whatever they sell.
The overwhelming majority of vet’s will also tell you that flea and tick preventives are perfectly safe for your dog or cat, regardless of the known side effects and the numerous recalls, particularly with spot on products and combination products that combine flea, tick, and heart worm preventative. Vets continue to recommend Trifexis, even though it has been directly related to over 1,000 dog deaths. Because vets do make money off of the sale of chemical flea and tick preventatives, they refuse to even give clients information regarding natural flea and tick preventatives which I have found to be just as effective (to be discussed at a later date).
Many vets will also insist on the regular revaccinating of your pet, even though a simple titer (pronounced “tighter”) test will confirm to many, many pet owners that their dog or cat is still immune from their last series of vaccinations. Rabies vaccines are often mandated by state laws (in South Carolina, pets must be vaccinated every three years), but there are no regulations on Lyme, Distemper/Parvo, Canine Influenza, Bordetella, or any other vaccines, and despite the fact that titer tests continue to show that many dogs, after their initial vaccinations and boosters, are usually immune and carry the antibodies for 5-7 years. Many vets do not even carry the 3 year rabies vaccine, basically forcing clients to receive the vaccine every year, even though there are dangerous side effects that can shorten the overall lifespan of the pet related to over vaccination (also to be discussed at a later date).
Overall, it is extremely important to find a vet who is willing to tell you the truth regarding what is really necessary for your pet, even if it means they will miss out on a couple of dollars. Finding a vet that will also entertain holistic options (e.g. acupuncture, organic food) is also a good sign. If at the first sign of illness your vet puts your dog on heavy duty antibiotics or major pain killers, beware. Look for a vet that really cares and wants the best for your pet, not just the big $$$.
Word to the wise: Don’t just take your vet’s word for it. Get a second opinion and also check forums, check the data, and make sure you realize that you are the client and anything your vet suggests is just that, a suggestion. You are the decision maker! A great vet is like finding a diamond in the rough–once you find one, be grateful and stick with them.