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The Why Behind Veterinary Prices
ABC’s 20/20 recently aired a story depicting veterinarians as “upselling” their services, calling into question the recommendations and ethical practices of veterinarians. We feel that this recent segment greatly misses the mark when explaining the increased standard of care of today’s veterinary medicine and the costs associated with it.
Value is the underlying consideration that drives consumer decisions. We have all heard the phrase, ‘what you pay for is what you get’. This is no foreign concept when it comes to veterinary care either, but what often is not explained to pet parents are the costs behind veterinary care. We will shed light first-hand on some of the reasoning behind these costs from the horse's mouth--aka from a veterinary perspective.
The majority of veterinarians are not gold-diggers.
Firstly, truth be told, veterinarians (including all of those here at Morena Pet Hospital) did not enter into this profession to get ahead in life. Despite the economic hardship placed on many veterinarians from the start (student loans, foregone earnings associated with being in veterinary school, lower than average incomes compared to other healthcare industries, start-up costs of opening a practice, overhead expenses, etc.), the human-animal bond that are experienced even in our personal lives trumps those costs, which is what leads pet lovers to choose the veterinary profession. Drs. Potter, Steib, and Zito did so out of their love for both pets and people. The majority of veterinary professionals live in a modest home, work long hours (on their feet) to help animals all to live paycheck to paycheck on a steady income.
Veterinary Medicine is costly to everyone.
It is disheartening when we hear such terms as “upselling” or “sticker shock” when associated with veterinary practices. We are no strangers to veterinary costs ourselves. A veterinary hospital, like all businesses, has expected costs (E.g. rent, utilities, tax, and insurance costs), not to mention the operational costs associated with maintaining a hospital facility with modern and up-to-date technologies and equipment, laboratory fees, food and medications costs, and salaries to provide a highly trained support staff.
In addition, the veterinary industry has changed dramatically over the years, now offering technological advances (once available only for humans) that have become readily available to pets too. Items such as Cat Scans, MRIs, organ transplants, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and even stem cell therapy are amongst the current services and treatments that are now options for our furry companions. However, with advancement in technology, also comes cost.
Some may be surprised to know that we at Morena Pet Hospital have experienced these costs on a personal level. Although we work in the industry, it does not exempt us from making these same choices for our pets at home. Many of our staff’s pets have had to undergo these same procedures (and costs) including kidney dialysis, chemotherapy, and orthopedic surgery to name just a few.
Routine veterinary services are necessary.
According to the AVMA, veterinarians are seeing an alarming increase in preventable conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and dental disease in pets. This is why veterinary medicine has shifted from responsive therapy (bringing pets in for care after clinical signs) to a more preventative care approach through vaccinations, spaying and neutering, dental cleanings, as well as wellness panels to test for pre-existing conditions and parasites, so one can treat the illnesses prior to symptoms. Preventative medicine is the easiest, least expensive, and most important way to keep your pet healthy. Early detection ensures prompt action that may solve the problem before serious consequences occur.
We understand and agree that veterinary costs are rising too quickly, but that does not lead us to “make a quick buck” selling unnecessary shots, tests, and procedures to pet owners as ABC’s 20/20 segment lead audience viewers to believe. In fact, if you asked any veterinary team member what they dislike the most about our industry, making decisions based on finances instead of medical need is likely at the top of the list! If a recommendation is made, it is based on your pet’s individual lifestage and lifestyle and we are doing so because we want what is best for your pet. As fellow animal lovers, we are committed to ensuring the highest level of support, information and service to give your companion the best possible care for a lifetime. We never base our recommendations on our seeing dollar signs and make every effort to ensure that all fees are fair and responsible.
Stay tuned for our next blog featuring tips for affording pet care...
"ABC's Veterinary Care Segment Lacks 20/20 Clarity", AVMA.org, November 25, 2013, http://atwork.avma.org/2013/11/25/abc-veterinary-care-segment-lacks-2020-clarity/.
"Is Your Veterinarian Being Honest With You", ABC 20/20, November 22, 2013, http://abcnews.go.com/2020/video/veterinarian-honest-20987714.
"Meeting the Costs of Veterinary Care", AAHA, September 30, 2013, http://www.healthypet.com/blog/post/Meeting-the-cost-of-veterinary-care.aspx.
As fellow animal lovers, we at Morena Pet Hospital are committed to ensuring the highest level of support, information, and service to give your companion the best care possible for a lifetime. That is why we concentrate on building upon the pet/pet owner relationship and aim to educate you throughout your pet's various life stages from puppy/kitten to adulthood.
How to Leash-Walk Your Dog
Understanding your dog’s behavior and beginning obedience training from an early age are key components to having an enjoyable relationship with your pet. We asked our expert veterinarians, Dr. Jeanne Potter and Dr. Crystal Steib, to provide us pet owners with some tips on how to create a dog training method that is built on a foundation of respect and positive reinforcement. Although they were sure to mention that no single method works for all dogs, here are some general guidelines they shared to help you and your pet through the process:
First things first, dogs are not naturally born to know how to walk on a leash, nor do they understand that they should not pull, or lag behind too far. This is where leash training comes into play--which can be challenging for all parties involved (both owner and pet) because dogs have the tendency to move quickly and are usually very excited to venture outdoors. Leashes work to lessen these natural behaviors and movements. Drs. Potter and Steib reiterate that teaching your dog to walk without pulling takes time, patience, and lots of positive reinforcements.
You may notice a remarkable difference between the obedient and well-mannered service dogs or those you see at dog shows versus the dogs you meet at your everyday dog park. The difference being that the ones in dog shows have been extensively trained in precision heeling and how to walk on a leash and thus prance gracefully alongside their owners, as opposed to the ones you see out-and-about in the neighborhood, pulling and jumping up on their owners.
Consider all walks as training sessions until your dog learns to properly walk on a leash and heel on command. The ASPCA recommends keeping the training sessions short, but frequent (and fun) for your dog.
During your walks (aka training sessions), your dog should be taught to walk on your left side, next to and not in front of or behind you, and never pulling ahead. Teach to sit at corners, stoplights, and curbs. Note: This is work time for the dog and reward time is the visit to the dog beach or park. The ASPCA refers to these training sessions as ‘Red Light, Green Light’ and another option is the ‘Lure and Reward’ (ASPCA.com 2013).
One tip for success is to tire your dog out before taking him/her on a training walk. So before you train, play a game of fetch or tug of war to expel some of that energy. This will make your pet less likely to pull during training.
Also, remember that if you expect your dog to be controlled during a walk, it is equally important for them to control themselves before the walk! If your pet is one that gets overly excited when seeing you reach for the leash, wait for them to calm down before opening the door. This may be easier said then done, but it is important to repeat this sequence until your dog has all four paws on the ground. (Dr. Potter also encourages owners to practice having their dogs sit and stay before putting their food down and before greeting them when you first arrive home).
If you walk with your pet at a quick tempo, they will be less likely to be distracted to sniff around or relieve themselves every few steps.
And keep in mind this is hard work for a dog; and all good behaviors should be reinforced with plenty of rewards. One possibility is to use highly desirable treats that your pet does not usually receive at other times. Reward with your pet with the treat and continue training.
Ultimately, in order for your dog to understand you are in charge, he/she needs to be taught to obey your commands by obedience training and daily reinforcement.
In addition, with the hot summer days approaching, both Drs. Potter and Steib remind owners to walk your dogs at a time of day when it is not too hot outside, especially if your dog is of a brachycephalic breed (e.g. Bulldog). To learn how to recognize the signs of heat stroke and prevent it from happening to your furry companion, please refer to our blog article: Hyperthermia (Heat Stroke) in Pets.
Have questions in regards to which collar and leash combo is best to use for your training? For recommendations, please refer to our previous blog article, Dog Training Part One: How to Choose the Right Collar and Leach.
Teaching Your Dog Not to Pull on a Leash. ASPCA. http://www.aspca.org/Pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-articles/teaching-your-dog-not-to-pull-on-a-leash. 2013.
Dr. Potter's Dog Care Tips. Jeanne Potter, DVM. http://morenapethospital.com.edit.officite.com/dog-care-tips.html.
Join us this Saturday, May 4, 2013 for the San Diego Humane Society's 19th Annual Walk for Animals at the *NEW* location in NTC Park at Liberty Station!
Images by San Diego Humane Society/SPCA
You and your "pawsitively" patriotic pets will have a great time as fellow San Diegans gather to celebrate their love for animals, while raising the vital funds to benefit the San Diego Humane Society's programs that ensure every homeless animal can find a loving home.
Location: NTC Park at Liberty Station
2455 Cushing Road
San Diego, CA 92106
The morning festivities include a delicious pancake breakfast, a scenic two-mile walk with an optional half-mile walk, fun-filled doggie activities and contests, and array of vendor booths.
7:00 A.M. Registration, Pancake Breakfast*, Doggie Activities, Contests and Vendor Village
8:45 A.M. Blessing of the Animals
9:00 A.M. Walk Begins
9:30 A.M. Doggie Activities, Contests, and Vendor Village continue until Noon
Our Morena Pet Hospital Booth:
Morena Pet Hospital is (again) a proud sponsor of the Walk for Animals for the third year running and we are looking forward to seeing you and your pets at the event!
Be sure to stop by our booth for games, pet care tips and information, and discount coupons! Don't forget to enter our FREE RAFFLE, to win some great pet care products & services!
Hope to see you there!
For further event information, please visit the event home page at http://www.sdhumane.org/site/PageNavigator/Events/2013_Walk/home.html
A client of ours asked for our help in finding Mikey, their handsome, sweet boy a new home as they are unable to provide the tender loving care that Mikey needs.
Regarding Mikey's medical condition:
We suspect that Mikey suffers from Idiopathic Cystitis also known as feline lower urinary tract disease. This condition causes pets to have inflammation of the bladder lining, most commonly induced by stress of any kind. These pets may strain to urinate, have blood in their urine, and (as in Mikey's case) occasionally develop an obstruction that prevents them from passing urine naturally. See link for more information: http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&A=612
Unfortunately, Mikey's current owners cannot afford the appropriate diagnostics, treatment, and long-term attention that he needs to thrive. They want the best for him and don't want him to be euthanized at a shelter. He is otherwise a very handsome and sweet 3 year old fellow, that needs time and loving attention.
Please share this post with any potential friends and family that may be willing to offer Mikey the second chance that he deserves. Anyone interested, please contact our office at 619-275-0888 so that we can arrange a meet & greet with Mikey.
Your Morena Pet Hospital Team
Looking for a fitness event for both you and your canine companion to take part in? Come out and support the Point Loma High School's Cross Country Team athletes as they host their 3rd Annual Hungry Dog Dash, a fun-filled community event being held this weekend on Sunday, February 3, 2013 starting at 8 AM.
Whether you are a serious, long distance runner or a casual weekend warrior, come join in the Hungry Dog Dash 5K Run/Walk. The course will be fast and beautiful as you run along one of San Diego’s most spectacular waterways, in Liberty Station, Point Loma.
This Hungry Dog Dash will have something for the whole family to enjoy, including food, drinks, music, and more (including a raffle where you can win great prizes donated by local sponsors--be sure to listen for your chance to win one of three gift certificates for your pet provided by Morena Pet Hospital)!
No better way to enjoy the beautiful San Diego weather and continue to promote a healthy and active New Year for both you and your furry companions! Best of all, every pre-registered participant will receive a cool event t-shirt and all finishers will receive an authentic Hungry Dog Dash dog tag! There will also be awards for the top three finishers in all age divisions.
For more information or to pre-register for this event, please visit http://www.hungrydogdash.org