Veterinary medicine has changed so much in our lifetime that it’s hard to keep up with what’s new, what’s hot, and what’s improving. Many of the medical advancements in veterinary medicine we hear about come from the specialty side of the profession, where board-certified veterinarians provide tip-top levels of care to our pets.
Yet, the vast majority of veterinary care happens in general practices in our communities. Here’s what’s hot these days on the primary-care front.
1. Cat Friendly Veterinary Hospitals
If you live primarily a dog-loving life, you may not know that cats remain grossly under-served. It isn’t that the care isn’t available. It’s that many people simply do not take their cats to the veterinarian – for a variety of reasons, including that cats (and their families) find the experience too stressful.
Cats continue to outnumber dogs as pets in American households – by some 8 million.
Yet, 40% of cats have not seen a veterinarian in the last year, and 7% of cats have never visited a veterinarian. Somewhere along the way, annual feline wellness visits never took hold in the same way they did with dogs. Some 6% of feline households only schedule an exam every three to four years, and another 6% stretch veterinary visits out to every five years.
The CATalyst Council aims to change that by providing information and resources on lowering feline stress in the veterinary environment both to veterinary professionals and to cat-loving families. For example, the council recommends veterinary hospitals make these adjustments for feline patients:
Designate a section of the lobby as a cat-only waiting area.
- Set aside at least one exam room as cat-only (the quietest and warmest one they’ve got).
- Install a Feliway (feline calming pheromone) diffuser in the cat-only exam room.
- Chat with clients at length while the cat calms down in the exam room.
- Examine fearful cats as they sit in the bottom half of their carriers, rather than on an exam table.
2. Integrative Care
When integrative and complementary care first came to veterinary medicine, clients often had to go outside their general veterinary practice or to a stand-alone integrative veterinary hospital to receive care that includes herbal remedies, acupuncture, chiropractic, and other forms of somewhat “non-traditional” veterinary care.
Today, you’re much more likely to find at least one veterinarian in a traditional veterinary hospital who has additional training and interest in this area.
3. Cross-Country Adoptions
Pets needing homes don’t necessarily need to find homes where they currently live. Thanks to the internet, a wide network of animal rescue volunteers, and large-scale partnerships between shelters that shuttle adoptable pets from communities that are overrun to those with high demand for adoptable pets, you’ll likely find pets from across the country – and even around the world – in your hometown.
Three cheers for increasing pet adoptions. There is, sometimes, a downside, however. Veterinarians often see medical problems that are not native to the populations they serve. For example, heartworm disease is really rare in the mountains of Colorado, where I live. Sure, people here use preventives just in case but, until recently, I personally had not known a heartworm-positive dog.
Alas, one of my local friends just adopted a 1-year-old dog from Kentucky. Once in Colorado, she learned he has heartworms. Her veterinary team has begun the dog’s treatment, and his prognosis is good.
It’s important, therefore, than your veterinarian knows your pet’s geographical and lifestyle history – as much as you can find out when adopting. This information can point your new pet’s care in the right direction.
Trends at Home?
What trends have you seen in your general veterinary practice? Any changes you like or don’t like? Let us know.
American Pet Products Association 2011-2012 National Pet Owners Survey
Bayer Healthcare LLC, Animal Health Division, Bayer Veterinary Usage Study, 2011
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