Sunday, December 19, 2010

Lessons thoughts for 2010.

- 2010 has been a challenging and thoughtful for our country. Dr. Welton discusses how the year's circumstances impacted the pet health care industry and provides final thoughts for 2010, as well as tips for the new year.

Transcript of this week's episode of The Web-DVM:

Hello everyone, this is Dr. Roger Welton, veterinarian, Veterinary News Network Reporter, and host of The Web-DVM.

It has been a crazy year for Americans to say the least. We have been told that our ailing economy is in recovery, yet so many remain out of work and foreclosures are still happening at an alarming rate. In the pet health care industry, we have seen even the most conscientious owners fail to keep up with even basic wellness care. In my entire career, I have not seen pet owner compliance with our health care recommendations be so low. Owners are resorting to second rate so called discount veterinary clinics for yearly visits, and spays and neuters more than I have ever seen. Of course, this means less revenue for high level veterinary hospitals like mine which translates to stifled practice growth. While this adversely effects my ability to provide raises and benefits for my employees, inhibits my ability to update medical equipment and renovate my aging hospital building, nothing is more frustrating than seeing pet owners who want the best health care for their pets, but just do not have the means to pay for it. The bottom line is that everybody suffers in this climate, with few in a position to be immune from its effects.

During these times it is of course imperative to focus more on being grateful for what we still have left, rather than focus on what we have lost or could not achieve. For any one of us that feels frustrated by what the Great Recession have wreaked upon our nation, we should always bear in mind that however much we have lost, however much we may find ourselves frustrated, there are many who have lost more.

In addition to using this notion to keep as positive an outlook as possible for ourselves and our families as we rebuild our futures, it is also important to learn from the tough lessons our circumstances have thrown us. With regard to quality pet care, I urge all pet owners to strive to keep pets that are within their means. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen people who have paid $3000 for a high maintenance health care breed like an English Bulldog, from a pet store, the reality of which increases the likelihood of having an already high maintenace dog with all kinds of health problems. Then when these problems arise, they do not have the money to manage them, yet they had no problem forking out the $3000 for the dog in the first place.

Lesson 1: do not purchase from pet stores. Not only do you support an appallingly inhumane industry, but you also have an exponentially higher likelihood of having a dog with all kinds of health problems.

Lesson 2: if money is tight, do not adopt a breed that has a known reputation to have a lot of health problems. If money is tight, the best thing to do is adopt a mutt from the pound. They are free, come with vaccines, are already fixed, and infectious disease tested, and with the genetic variety that a mixed breed brings, that dog will most likely be healthy for most of its life.

Another example of pet owners not keeping pets within their means is keeping too many. I cannot tell you how many pet owners I see that have 8 plus cats, while they can barely afford one. So rather than have one decently care for cat, they instead have 8 or more poorly cared for cats that are fed cheap, garbage food, never receive wellness veterinary care, vaccines, or even flea and tick preventive, then complain to me when one is so sick that their hand is forced to seek veterinary care and cannot afford it.

Lesson 3: keep only the number of pets that you can afford to care for properly.
The level of pet health care is much higher generally in Europe than in the U.S.. It is not because they have better veterinarians, nor is it because they are any more wealthy than we are, it is because 50% of European pet owners own pet insurance, while only 3% of U.S. pet owners carry pet insurance. Make no mistake, reputable pet insurance companies offer very helpful medical reimbursement policies for your pets for in most cases, quite reasonable monthly premiums.

Lesson 4: if treating a costly injury or illness to your pet may be something you either could not afford or would put your family in financial distress, seek out quality, reputable pet insurance.

An owner brought in a 7 year old hound dog for a consultation because he was severely coughing and losing weight. Examination, x-rays, and blood work revealed that was in right sided heart failure because he had heartworms. The dog had never been seen by a veterinarian since it was a puppy, so it never had any heartworm screening nor was it ever kept on heartworm preventive. With little financial capacity to have the heartworms treated, and management of the right sided heart failure was a guarded prospect at best even if she could afford treatment, the owner had no choice but to have the dog humanely put to sleep.

Lesson 5: keep up with general wellness care as mandated by your veterinarian. Spending a little today can prevent a tragic, expensive illness later
My hospital sponsors a rescue fund for the treatment of life threatening conditions in the pets of people who have found themselves in financial hard times and cannot afford the life-saving treatment. Funding comes from private donations clients put in a collection box, and from waiting room candy machines. Ironically, the donation box and candy sales have increased as a result of the recession, with those who are still doing well enough, being more inclined to give to help the less fortunate. To date, Tiffany Fund, named after my beloved deceased Labrador retriever, has saved the lives of 12 animals and counting. More than saving these precious lives, the fund has saved families and individuals from devastating personal loss.

Lesson 6: THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON OF ALL. If you are doing well, give to those who are not, help those who have less. One good deed not only can fix an immediate wrong, but can go so far as to restore the recipient’s faith in humanity, and in life in general. Faith, hope, and goodwill are infectious, and in tough times, we cannot spread enough.

I thank all of my loyal audience for taking the time to watch and lisen to little old me this entire year. I wish all of you and your pets peace, love, and happiness during these holidays, and abundance in the New Year to come. I will resume with all new episodes the first week of January 2011. Until then, fair well, my friends.

This is Dr. Roger Welton reporting, for The Web-DVM.

Don't forget to catch my live call-in radio show Wednesdays 9PM EST. Listen via podcast live or archived here:

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Dr. Roger Welton is the President and chief veterinarian at Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne Florida, as well as CEO of the veterinary advice and health management website


catgirl said...

Great parting words, Doctor Roger. Those are lessons we pet owners ALL shoudl live my. They are just common sense when you really think about them, but common sense is not so common unfortunately. Happy Halidays my good vet! Thanks for all you do to better the lives of pets and those of us that love them!

pw1974 said...

I could not agree more. I know more pinheads that go out and spend thousands on dogs they can't afford in the first place - from pet stores, duh - then bitch and complain when they get vet bills because the dog is unhealthy because it was poorly bred, or as you say, a high maintenance health breed. They complain about the vet needing to get paid for their work, the multitude of problems of which he/she did not create. I really just want to smack these people, because the dog suffers because of their stupidity. Nobody, including the vet told them to go out and buy such a dog!

This and the other lessons you listed Doc, are great lessons we should all live by, but as catgirl so eloquently put it, common sense is not all that common.

Hapy holidays to you and your family. May Americans finally begin to use their God given brains in 2011!

Al said...

These are all lessons to live by, and I would like to think that people have learned their lessons, but humans just have pitifully short term memories. Just look, for example, after 8 years of GW Bush and company driving us into these horrible circumstances we're in, because Barack Obama and the dems could not turn 8 years of incompetant leadership around on a dime, they vote the same shitheads back into power in the Congress that got us here in the first place. Now the economy is indeed turning around thanks to policies that make sense, that took time to make a difference, just in time for this new congress to throw a monkey wrench in our progress.

So, as our economy seems to be turning for the better (and hopfefully this newright wing takeover of Congress does not hogtie our recovery), when people are more financially stable in the months, years to come, do you really think that they will heed these common sense pet owning lessons that the doc highlighted in this video? If you do, your faith in people goes way beyond what they deserve credit for.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone!

Jeff said...

Too true, Al. I remember back in 2008 when gas was over $4.00 a gallon, people were starting to trade in their SUVs for hybrids and other more economical cars. Overall sentiment was that people would get smaller cars, hybrids, and electric cars to stick it to those oil companies gouging them. Okay, that was year later and gas prices fall to under $3.00 per gallon and suddenly, everyone has forgotten about 2008. Suddenly, people are buying SUVs again, as if in the course of owning that gas guzzling car, oil companies won't gouge the price of oil again. Hello???

How about the oil spill, people are outraged, shouting, I will never use BP gas again, and back then, BP gas stations looked like ghost towns, they were so empty. Now that problem is still an environmental disaster that will remain that way for possible year, even decades to come...but those BP stations are bustling again! The media stopped talking about it, so people have forgotten about it, and BP is forgiven.

Short term memories you say Al? More like the memories of goldfish.

Rosey said...

This year is going to be better. One can feel it in the air, renewed optimism is palpable. Retail sales up 16% from last year, and holiday travel up 3%, that must mean something!

Our country has its ups and downs, times when we are at are best and times when we are at our worst. But in the end, the American spirit always wins the day - you just can't keep the good old USA down for very long!

Tina said...

I completely agree with keeping animals that are within your means, that is only common sense. But not everybody who has animals that they can no longer afford to care for are in those circumstances because of their own poor decisions. I know plenty of people who were blind sided by going from 6 figure incomes to no incomes in very short periods of time in the midst of massive job losses in 2008 and 2009. For many of them, they could afford their homes, cars, and number of pets they had, but found themselves unable to support any of it through no fault of their own. I see some pretty cynical opinions here and deservedly so in many cases, but not everyone in a bad way with being unable to afford healtcare for their pets are dumbasses that do not heed lessons. Many are themselves victims of the worst economic collapse our country has seen since the Great Depression. Hopefuly, this year brings a better day!

Erin said...

Good point,

Not everybody who has had a very hard time these past couple of years is there because of their own bad decisions. Abysmal leadership courtesy of GW Bush got many there at no fault of their own, other than they resided in a country whose majority voted that monkey in for a second term!

I am not big on politics, and I do not know if President Obama's policies are the answer, but I do know that Bush most certainly was not! It seems our current President may be slowly digging us out of this mess and a better day seems to be looming. In my office, lay-offs are being recalled and even new hires are occuring. I am not yet convinced that the worst is behind us with a lot of people still hurting, but I am cautiously optimistic. Anyway this goes, the doc's lessons are good to live by, because the last couple of years have proved that you never know when bad times are looming just around the corner!

Wendy said...

When you have trouble having faith in people with all the bad you see and hear all the time, to hear that charitable donations to a rescue fund like Dr. Welton's Tiffany Fund actually went up during this bad economy, it goes a long way to restore some of my faith in people. During these times, even the well off are not free of fear that they can lose what they have (I know many rich people that are terrified despite their wealth), yet as long as they continue to do well, many have apparently set their fear aside and stepped up their giving to so many that are hurting.