a vet shares 5 pet health advances to be grateful for

Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on Nov 29 2013

Thanksgiving is typically a time for thoughtful introspection as we ponder those things for which we are grateful. Family, of course. A roof over our heads, too. While I miss my beloved dog Katie every single day, I am also thankful for the 15 years we spent together. These are things I am thankful for as a mom, a wife, and a pet owner. This year, though, I also turn my mind to the things that I am grateful for as a veterinarian.

So, without further ado, here is my list of the top 5 veterinary trends for which I am most thankful (in no particular order):

Microchips. Twenty years ago, could you have even imagined that one day we’d be able to determine who a lost dog or cat (or rat or snake!) belonged to just by scanning their necks? This is some real science fiction stuff come to life! Seriously, though--microchips save lives and reunite missing animals with their distraught owners. If you think your pet could never get lost, think again. It only takes one open gate, one slipped lead, or one babysitter who thought the cat could go outside to put you in the predicament you never want to face.

Parasite control. Do you remember when we used to have to give heartworm prevention pills every day? Every single day, people! Or subject our pets (and our nasal passages) to caustic smelling flea and tick dips? We have come a long way in terms of flea, tick, and heartworm prevention, thankfully. Heartworm disease is deadly, and fleas and ticks can spread debilitating and fatal diseases, too. We are lucky to have so many effective choices for parasite control (and even luckier to only have to apply them once a month!).

Changing vaccine protocols. It wasn’t too long ago (in the grand scheme of things) that all pets got all available vaccines every year, regardless of their lifestyle. Current research shows, however, that some the effect of some vaccines (though, not all vaccines) lasts over three years in our pets. Furthermore, as a profession, we have begun to recognize that not all pets live the same kinds of lives. Fluffy, the Miniature Poodle who lives in the penthouse suite and whose feet rarely touch the ground just doesn’t need the same protection that Brutus, the German Shorthair Pointer who hunts with his owner does. Tailoring a vaccination protocol that best suits your pet is the only way to go!

The rise of the veterinary specialist. Would you expect your family doctor to perform a root canal? Of course not! How about provide you with advice regarding the best chemotherapy and then administer it? No, again. As a veterinarian and a pet owner, I think we are so lucky to have access to board certified specialists who can tackle specific conditions for our pets. From dermatologists and neurologists to oncologists, ophthalmologists, and behaviorists, specialists take on complicated cases to provide our pets with the highest quality medicine possible.

Pet Insurance. If we are lucky, our pets go through their lives without major complications or unexpected accidents. But rarely is this the case. Every day, I am faced with owners who question how they can afford the diagnostic tests necessary to find out what is wrong with their pets or the treatment involved in making them better. For owners with pet insurance, these worries are nonexistent. They don’t have to sacrifice on diagnostics or treatments, and they don’t have to worry that they can’t afford them. And this is a relief for everyone involved.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your pets!