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View Full Version : Are vets in the U.S. just not that good?



LucyDog
28th February 2010, 05:39 PM
So I am asking this in all seriousness....not in any way trying to be snarky, but a great deal of the time on this board I see people from outside the U.S. write back things like, "vets in the U.S. often miss this" or "vets in the U.S. don't really know about that." Are American vets just not educated as well as vets in other countries? Does the U.S. not do as much research on animal disease etc..as other countries? If you think that is the case, why do you think it is that way? I don't have any emotional attachment to the issues...not like I have some American pride thing going on....so please be honest. It just seems odd to me that in a country where pet owners must spend millions..probably billions of dollars... on their pets that it would make sense that our vets would be pretty good and that money would be spent to do research on animal medicine. The comments don't bother me, but it does bother to think that I might be spending a ton of money on vet care that is substandard. Not to mention that I adore my animals and want them to get the best care possible. I look forward to your thoughts.

Karlin
28th February 2010, 07:17 PM
No, not at all; someof the world's best vet schools are in the US. Such comments here are generally made in relation to specific cavalier things and cavaliers remain a fairly rare breed in the US especially outside the two coasts. Board members regularly report their cavalier is the only one at their vets' practice, or that their vet is not aware of issues like MVD and SM and EFS in the breed because they only have a couple of cavaliers at the practice.

In contrast, cavaliers are the most popular toy breed in the UK and Ireland and one of the most common breeds of dog you see day to day over here. That makes a big difference in vet's familiarity with come issues.

I also have found from reading others' comments that rabbit mites just don't seem that common in the US and a lot of vets don't check for them. They are a fairly common cause of itching on puppies in particular over here. A few board members when they have pushed a US vet to do a skin scrape, have found that rabbit mites are indeed the problem. That is why I write that US vets may not check for these. (I am from the US and can say that I would very rarely see a cavalier in the part of California my folks live in, south of you down on the peninsula. My Lucy would have been one of the only cavaliers at their vets when she was living with them before I brought her over here).

I do think any vet should do a skin scrape when itching is the problem, before doing lots of blood test, allergy tests etc. Skin scrapes are cheap, efficient, and often provide the answer. This is true for vets anywhere.

On rabbit mites:

http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=18&aid=725

I think vets in the US may consider this more a rabbit problem and don't realise dogs often get them. They seem quite common on puppies over here...

ppotterfield
28th February 2010, 07:33 PM
I am also in the United States and so I cannot compare with other countries. I do think there is a wide range in the quality of Vet care in the States -- some excellent and some not so good. Plus in many parts of the country, for issues more closely associated with Cavaliers, your dog may be the only Cavalier they have seen. To me, the most important things in your general Vet are that (1) he/she take the time to really listen and ask questions, (2) if you have information on your breed or new techniques or medications from reputable sources, he/she be willing to study what you have brought to their attention and take the information into consideration (not necessarily accept it point blank) and (3) he/she know their limitations and when you need to be referred elsewhere.

When you think about it, we ask a lot of our Vets. Particularly in smaller population areas, they care for dogs, cats, bunny rabbits, guinea pigs, horses, cows, sheep, pigs, etc. I am not upset that my Vet does not know everything there is to know about the health issues more pervalent in either of my breeds, but I would be upset if he was not willing to read the summaries and updates on health concerns in Cavaliers and Clumbers I send to him from time to time and to listen to me when I tell him what I know. I would be even more upset if he was not honest enough to say, "you know, I think we really need to go to a specialist for this one . . . ."

Unfortunately, even with what I consider to be good Vets, we have to educate ourselves and be advocates for our dogs and other pets. If your Vet bristles at you playing that role, provided you have spoken and acted with respect and decoram, then I would recommend going elsewhere.

JMHO

RodRussell
28th February 2010, 07:37 PM
...Are American vets just not educated as well as vets in other countries? Does the U.S. not do as much research on animal disease etc..as other countries? ...

Two entirely different questions. First, I don't know how to compare US vets with those in other countries. But at the risk of generalizing (and the negative side-effects of doing so), I think there is a big difference between US general practice vets and those who are trained in specialties. I don't think, as a general matter, that US vets are well trained -- or trained at all at vet schools -- in diets and nutrition, in reading a blood test report, in grading MVD murmurs, in vaccine dangers, and in holistic approaches to animal care. I would not rely on the advice of a general practice vet without running that advice past an holistic vet.

As for comparing US vets doing research with those elsewhere, I don't see much difference. I always am grateful when any vet chooses to do any reasearch which may benefit the CKCS breed.
--
Rod Russell

Karlin
28th February 2010, 07:43 PM
Phyllis, great post -- agree completely. I'd never expect a vet to know about specialist conditions, for example (but we can all possibly help other cavaliers by making sure our vets know about SM in the breed, for example. :)) I think there are good and mediocre vets everywhere in the world.

It does sometimes surprise me what vets will miss that seems a lot more obvious -- maybe they are having an off day, or maybe they are just not that great at seeing some things. Some vets definitely are pretty woeful. I've heard of a few missing MVD when the symptoms were obvious, including a neighbour's vet when her cavalier was in cingestive heart failure and the vet literally did nothing; the dog collapsed half a day later at home and died, very traumatic for the owner. :-X I'd told her a few times I was sure this was severe MVD and couldn't believe her dog hadn't been put on anything, xrayed, nothing.

There are also the very good vets who seem to want to run every test under the sun... add on the special food... lots of extra charges. Even though I know they are good vets I don't like the upselling -- I will always ask for the same couple of vets whose judgement is excellent and who work incrementally to find what is wrong rather than suggesting immediate costly tests before some more basic things are tried (of course in an urgent situation I'd be approaching recommendations differently!)

heather r
28th February 2010, 08:47 PM
Having lived in many areas of the US with the exception of So. California. The Midwest, No. Va., Washington state, Fl., Cape Cod etc. we have been very lucky to have only run into 1 or 2 problematic vets. Both were in very high turnover vet practices where new vets come for a while; then go out on their own.

As to end of life decisions and need for specialist care ; I have been very fortunate. All three of our lost pets received just the care they needed; no need for extra unnecessary tests. We were kept informed as to course of the disease and with the specialist; what treatment was needed . Even though we moved with latter dog, the new vet was able to secure a less expensive but equally appropriate med. for skin allergy.

If I'm not satisfied with vet for any number of reasons, I seek out another vet with whom I can discuss and believe is trying to get the best treatment for our animals. Sometimes this has meant going on to a specialist.

Having no experience with vets in other countries; I can't speak to that but as in our human health care; keeping in step and sometimes a step ahead of the medical practitioners is a must.

Heather R

Tania
28th February 2010, 08:52 PM
I regard my vet the same as my GP, he is good for general problems. If I believe (sometime I am wrong) there is something sinister going on, I find a specialist and then get a referral. Vets will recommend dietary advice based on commercial products they are selling within the practice. My vet had not heard of sm before PDE, (which is worrying) his young assistant recalls hearing something about it at University. It is important a good relationship with the vet is maintained and hopefully he will then provide the support needed. I don't think you can take any Vet in any country for granted! This is why Pet Folk need our help!

Shay
1st March 2010, 12:55 AM
I have lived many places, but I must say, the best vets I have had, are here in Alabama. Alabama many rank last in many areas, but in Vet care, in my opinion, and from my own experience, they are at the top of places I have lived. I think this is true because of the wonderful Vet school we have here at Auburn University, in Auburn AL, where the majority of our vets attend. It is all about forming a relationship with your vet. Although my vet had a very limited knowledge of SM, I was convinced that Lily had it as early a 3 months old. When the time came to have her tested, my Vet did not let his ego get in the way, and admitted that his knowledge was limited. When I told him I wanted to bring Lily to Auburn, he immediately made the call for me, and did not insist on doing many costly and unnecessary tests before he made the referral. As it turned out, Lily does have the malformation, and PSOM. My Vet works very closely with the doctors at Auburn when we have a question about her meds, or other issues relating to SM. He has learned so much about SM by not being arrogant, and because he was willing to learn. I can't say enough about the team at Auburn as well. The neurologist that treated Lily is using pig tissue with tissue from the dogs pelvic area to make a covering, instead of the titanium plate, to reduce scar tissue in decompression surgery with excellent results.

I agree with Karlin that the breed is fairly rare in the states, so many vets are just not familiar with the diseases affecting our cavaliers. I believe this is slowly changing, unfortunately because more and more Cavs in the states are being diagnosed with SM, and other diseases affecting primarily Cavs. I believe there are good and not so good vets in the states, just as there are in any other part of the world. The key again, is finding a vet you trust, and can form a relationship with. You must be an advocate for your dog. Do not be afraid to ask for want you want, and disagree with your vet, if the situation calls for it. You need a vet who will listen. If your vet does not listen to you, and is afraid to admit he may not know something, or becomes angry or arrogant, then it's time to find a new one.

RodRussell
1st March 2010, 03:05 AM
...I can't say enough about the team at Auburn as well. The neurologist that treated Lily is using pig tissue with tissue from the dogs pelvic area to make a covering, instead of the titanium plate, to reduce scar tissue in decompression surgery with excellent results..

I read an article about this last week. I like not having to deal with mesh and screws.


...The key again, is finding a vet you trust, and can form a relationship with. You must be an advocate for your dog. Do not be afraid to ask for want you want, and disagree with your vet, if the situation calls for it. You need a vet who will listen. If your vet does not listen to you, and is afraid to admit he may not know something, or becomes angry or arrogant, then it's time to find a new one.

Great advice, Shay.
--
Rod Russell

Shay
1st March 2010, 03:50 AM
I read an article about this last week. I like not having to deal with mesh and screws.



Great advice, Shay.
--
Rod Russell

Thanks Rod...I believe relationships with our vets are key to the health and welfare of any pet. If they are not meeting our needs in caring for our pet, then we must find one who will. Many times, just like with medical doctors, people are just afraid to ask questions, and forget that our medical professionals are working for us.

Dr, Shores at Auburn is the neurologist I was talking about. Although he indicated that Lily is borderline for surgery at this time, and we opted to treat with meds, I also like the fact that he is using natural coverings instead of a foreign object to reduce scar tissue

LucyDog
2nd March 2010, 12:12 AM
Thanks for all of your responses. I think a lot of good points were made. I really hadn't thought too much about the fact that Cavaliers are really not all that common in the U.S.. Where I live there are a decent number of them. In fact, there is a local dog park that has a monthly Cavalier Day and at least 40-50 show up every time. That said I could see how many vets wouldn't be all that knowledgeable about the breed and the specific diseases/conditions that they suffer from. My vet seemed to know quite a bit about Cavs, especially stuff relating to MVD....not quite as much in regard to SM, but she is very willing to do research and has referred me to specialists more than once for my cats and our dog before Lucy, so I can't imagine she would resist if I asked her for a referral if I felt she couldn't meet our needs. I do believe there are some not so great vets around and have had some negative experiences with two large (corporate type) vet hospitals. I would never go to another multi-location pet hospital again...they just don't off much as far as I can tell. But, I am rather happy with our current vet, which only has 3 doctors. That said, I would have no problem asking questions if I felt I wasn't getting the answers I needed nor would I stay with a practice that I felt wasn't doing a good job.

Cathy Moon
2nd March 2010, 12:54 AM
Dr, Shores at Auburn is the neurologist I was talking about. Although he indicated that Lily is borderline for surgery at this time, and we opted to treat with meds, I also like the fact that he is using natural coverings instead of a foreign object to reduce scar tissue

This is interesting to me - Dr. Axlund the neurosurgeon in our region, came from Auburn U and when he performed decompression surgery on Charlie, he used some of Charlie's body fat to cover the area where the bone was removed. I don't think he used pig tissue at the site, though, so that's probably a newer technique.

Another point I wanted to make about vet care is our situation; we take our dogs to a large group practice, where several of the individual vets have special areas of interest. So when one of our dogs has a problem that falls into one of the special areas of interest, I make an appointment with that vet. They all have access to all of our records, so I don't have to worry about them not having all the needed information at their fingertips. Just for example, one vet does all the dentals, one does all the orthopedic surgeries, one does opthalmology, one does acupunture, and one does all the endoscopy. There are more specialties related to breeding as well. I've had good results with all of them; except for 1-2 of the younger vets overlooked an ear issue, and I later found from the OSU dermatologist that India had yeast in her ears, which was then cleared up. We have chosen a short list of 3-4 vets that we will go to when there is a serious problem with one of the dogs, and they have never let us down.

I have noticed that sometimes I suggest what I am willing to pay for; for example when India hurt herself playing, and they don't find anything conclusive on examination, I'll tell them I'd feel better if they took an x-ray. (When other people might just go home and watch their dogs for worsening symptoms) Or when Chocs had an abscessed anal gland I asked for her to be given something for pain and for the abscess to be lanced.

Shay
3rd October 2010, 02:27 AM
Kathy...When I first got Lily, Dr Axlund was the neuro at Auburn. He is supposed to be one of the best. When I did take Lily last year, I didn't know that he was no longer there. They told me he was in Ohio?? Is that where you live? I do think the pig tissue is fairly recent, and Dr Shores came up with that, with excellent results so I'm told. I really can't say enough about the Drs at Auburn, and feel fortunate to have them so close. The neuro I am seeing this week for Lily's latest episode is from there, so I feel really good about that, and am so happy that we now have a neuro in town as well.

Cathy Moon
3rd October 2010, 03:12 AM
Shay, Dr. Axlund has been in Ohio for a few years at Metropolitan Animal Hospital in Akron, Ohio. He performed neurosurgery on Charlie back in 2007. He is very kind and easy to talk to.

Scroll down on this page, and you'll see him:
http://www.metropolitanvet.com/petowner/practice/ovsn/doctors.php

Shay
3rd October 2010, 03:40 AM
Thanks Cathy...what a fine group of doctors you have in Akron, all with very impressive resumes. I wish we had a neuro clinic here, but thankful at least we finally have a neuro at our Specialty Animal Clinic, if only 2 days per week.