Are we the veterinarian for you?
- You hired us to examine your pet!
- We care about your pets and want them to live long and healthy lives and be with you for a long time.
- If you are looking for a veterinarian to perform a complete and thorough examination of your pet (which is the point of the exam fee), then yes.
- If, during the exam, we notice conditions that are present, and then our experience and training allows us to notice and you want and expect us to tell you such issues, then yes.
Our duty is to be an advocate for your pet since they cannot speak for themselves. It is our job and duty to look for issues and to inform you of the same, especially since you paid us to do so with the exam fee. What you, as the client, choose to do with that information is your choice.
We fully understand and respect that what we bring to your attention might be unexpected, raise the specter of expensive vet bills to come and that you don’t want to have to hear any of what we have to say and you don’t have the money for it or were hoping to spend the money on something else, or the HVAC system just needed an expensive repair. Too much to deal with today!
We get it.
If you cannot afford the full treatment plan that we might offer, we can try to do things in stages, depending on the conditions found. Treatment plans of any kind really depend on how the issue found needs to be addressed.
You also might wonder why your prior vet didn’t tell you of any of what we might now be telling you now? Maybe the condition really wasn’t present or noticeable the last time your pet was to the vet. Or maybe you declined a test the other vet wanted to run to confirm something they suspected.
Most things that are “just being watched” get worse, more complex, and more expensive when you wait, especially lump and mass removals and dental disease. Bigger is NOT better want it comes to removing lumps. No one can tell if a lump is cancerous without taking a sample and looking at it under a microscope. How would you feel if a doctor told you to “just watch” the breast lump you just found and that “it should be fine, we’ll just watch it” and did nothing? You would probably go running for a second opinion and never return to the first doctor.
Another example: Dental cleaning is expensive but having to remove seriously diseased teeth is even more expensive; the former can help avoid the latter.
These are two common examples of things that do not improve with age and watching. Many other such conditions exist whether we like it or not. They need to be addressed as much as you are able.
Finally, some things really do resolve themselves and go away, which is fine.
If you think any of the following, we are not the veterinarian for you:
- If you are looking for the lowest-cost veterinarian, then no.
- If you are looking for a veterinarian to tell you that your pet has no problems when this is not true, then no.
- If you are annoyed that we bring conditions to your attention and think we are just after your money, then we are not the vet for you.
- For a small number of people: We deserve respect, and we will have it. If you think it ok to be abusive to and yell at our staff or doctors, to not schedule a time to pay attention to what we are trying to tell you about your pet, then we don’t actually want to see you; if that how you behave, which is sad because we like your pets a lot. Very sad that we actually have to write this sentence and put it on our website.
To end as we have begun: We care about you and your pets, want the best possible care for them, and will work with you as much as possible to be able to help you find a way to do so.
Why does my pet need a physical exam before receiving vaccines?
This comes up a fair bit. Pet owners question the necessity of a physical exam when a pet is due for vaccines. After all, their pet is perfectly healthy and they’d just as soon skip the exam. For some people, it’s about saving time, money, and/or stress on a pet. Others genuinely feel their pet is healthy and that an exam simply isn’t necessary. We get that. But there’s no getting around a physical exam if your pet needs vaccinations. And for good reason.
First things first. Virginia law requires our veterinarians to have a veterinary-client-patient relationship before they can administer medication of any kind, including vaccines. A physical exam that’s been performed within a year is the minimum we need to establish and maintain that relationship at our hospital. If we haven’t seen your pet within a year, he/she will need an exam before we can vaccinate.
Fair enough. The law is the law. But what if we have seen a pet within the year – is that exam still necessary? Yes. Without question. And without exception. Regardless of how recently we’ve seen that pet.
Here’s the thing. No matter how healthy a pet owner thinks a pet is, there’s no substitute for the medical training and experience a veterinarian brings to bear in assessing a pet’s eligibility for a vaccine by reviewing a pet’s medical record, obtaining a history from a client, and performing a full physical – head to tail, top to bottom, inside (to the extent we can) and out. A new problem can crop up at any time, and while a pet may seem perfectly healthy to a pet owner, pets are notoriously good at hiding health issues from their families (it’s a hard-wired instinct that plays out routinely in companion animals). There isn’t a veterinarian at our hospital who hasn’t at one time or another delayed vaccinating a pet that a pet owner thought was perfectly healthy but in fact, wasn’t healthy enough to receive a vaccine.
We give vaccines to protect pets from diseases that can have disastrous consequences. We give them to prevent the spread of those diseases to other animals. And we give them to protect the public. (Think Rabies here.) We take that responsibility very seriously. Vaccines put the immune system to work building protective antibodies. That work makes demands on the body’s energy reserves. If we give a vaccine to a pet that isn’t healthy at the time of vaccination, he/she may not build enough antibodies to be protected and it may take him/her longer to recover from whatever already happens to be in play. Either way, we’ve failed in our responsibility. A full physical is a minimum we can do to be reasonably sure that:
- A pet’s health won’t be compromised by receiving a vaccine and
- A pet is healthy enough to mount a good response to a vaccine (i.e., able to build enough antibodies to protect that pet from a specific disease)
We apply those same standards to every pet, including those owned by our own staff members. No wiggle room here. Vaccinations require a physical exam because it’s in everyone’s best interest.