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Thread: Are vets in the U.S. just not that good?

  1. #1
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    Default Are vets in the U.S. just not that good?

    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.
    Aimee
    Lucy (Blenheim F) January 25, 2007
    Charlie Brown (Ruby M) October 24, 2008

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    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...
    Karlin
    Cavaliers: Jaspar Leo Lily Tansy Libby (foster) Mindy (foster)
    In memory: Lucy
    Cavalier SM Infosite:www.smcavaliers.com

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    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
    Phyllis in West Virginia USA with two Clumbers and a Cavalier Named Buddy

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    Quote Originally Posted by LucyDog View Post
    ...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
    Last edited by RodRussell; 28th February 2010 at 10:42 PM. Reason: spelling

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    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. 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!)
    Karlin
    Cavaliers: Jaspar Leo Lily Tansy Libby (foster) Mindy (foster)
    In memory: Lucy
    Cavalier SM Infosite:www.smcavaliers.com

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    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
    Last edited by heather r; 28th February 2010 at 08:49 PM. Reason: spelling

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    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!
    Tania and The Three Cavaliers!
    Dotty!- A Sweet Little Tri
    Molly - Pretty Tri Dougall - Gorgeous Blenheim

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    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.
    Sharon,
    Mom to Bleinham Cavaliers Lily, 5 years old, and Alfie, 8 year old puppy mill rescue.
    At the Bridge, Chloe, Lhasa Apso.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shay View Post
    ...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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shay View Post
    ...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

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    Quote Originally Posted by RodRussell View Post
    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
    Sharon,
    Mom to Bleinham Cavaliers Lily, 5 years old, and Alfie, 8 year old puppy mill rescue.
    At the Bridge, Chloe, Lhasa Apso.

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