Here are five points listed in an article a client sent me from AOL Money & Finance that you may be of interest to you.
- Good thing you love Schatzi like a son. His care could cost as much.After a New York City taxi struck Jessica Malionek’s dog, Mojo, flinging him 30 feet in the air, she spent $4,000 for veterinarians to perform emergency treatment and then life-saving surgeries on her beloved dog. “It was like they were treating a person,” Malionek says. These days veterinary medicine can be every bit as sophisticated as human health care — and the costs reflect it. Animal lovers spent $19 billion on veterinary care in 2001, the most recent figure available, up from $7.2 billion a decade earlier, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. And per-visit costs are skyrocketing: Between 1991 and 2001, the average cost of a veterinary visit for a dog nearly doubled, from $50 to $99. For cats, costs rose even more precipitously, jumping by 107%.Why the steep price hikes? Chris Green, an attorney and member of the American Veterinary Medical Law Association, says vets are happily obliging owners who want to keep their pets alive at all costs. That means paying up for the latest high-tech procedures, such as feline kidney transplants and CAT scans. There are also more aged pets today, which require more care.
- “Vaccinating your pet may do more harm than good.” For years the primary reason for seeing a vet was to get your pet vaccinated against a host of diseases ranging from distemper to rabies — either with individual vaccinations or “combo wombo” shots that could cover seven separate conditions.Indeed, annual vaccinations have been an economic bulwark for many vet practices, but some veterinarians say they’re not only unnecessary, but they can actually be harmful in some cases. Marty Goldstein, a veterinarian in South Salem, N.Y., says he sees a range of vaccination-related reactions in animals, everything from cancerous sarcomas to epilepsy. Another reason to think twice about certain vaccines: The immunity provided by some of them can last well beyond a year, even as long as the pet”s lifetime, Goldstein says, negating the need for some annual shots.
Both the AVMA and the American Animal Hospital Association now say vaccinations should be assessed yearly and tailored to an animal’s age, health and lifestyle. For example, an indoor cat with limited exposure to some diseases may not ever need certain common vaccinations, says W. Jean Dodds, an immunologist and veterinarian with Hemopet in Garden Grove, Calif.
- “I have more complaints filed against me than a used-car lot — not that you”ll ever know about it.” When she picked up her kitten, Pumpkin, from the veterinarian after a routine spaying, Mount Pleasant, S.C., resident Marcia Rosenberg was stunned to find the cat nearly comatose. Soon Pumpkin”s body was wracked with seizures, and her stomach swelled. Rosenberg rushed Pumpkin to another vet, who saved the cat, but the distraught owner called her state’s veterinary board to complain. Told that the board had no procedure for alerting consumers about disciplinary actions taken against incompetent vets, Rosenberg mounted a successful campaign to have such actions posted on the South Carolina veterinary board’s web site.Tracking complaints against vets often requires a bit of detective work. Some state veterinary boards list disciplinary actions against vets, while others do not. And complaints typically aren’t disclosed until a board investigation and judicial ruling have determined a case of wrongdoing. On her own, Rosenberg says she was able to find that the vet had previously had his license suspended in Ohio and since then had more than a dozen complaints against him in South Carolina.
- “Sure, I can do root canal on your pup — real dentists are for people.” When John James, an academic adviser in Los Angeles, took his geriatric cockapoo, Amber, to his veterinarian for a chipped tooth, the vet told him his dog needed a root canal and that he could take care of it. Amber died during the procedure. James”s lawyer later learned the vet”s canine dentistry training came from a weekend course. What”s more, elderly Amber should never have been a candidate for the intensive procedure.How do you know whether your pet is in the hands of a skilled specialist? The AVMA lists 20 specialties for veterinarians, ranging from anesthesiology to dermatology. Legitimate specialists have done graduate work in their specialty and been certified by an industry medical board. Some vets may claim a “special interest” in an area, meaning they’ve taken some continuing education, but they aren’t necessarily certified specialists, says Peter Weinstein, former medical director of Veterinary Pet Insurance in Brea, Calif.
If your pet needs a specialist, check the vet”s educational background and certification. Also, ask how many specialized procedures he performs annually. Having a “special interest” may be fine if the vet has enough experience.
- “Surgery’s a cinch. It’s the overnight stay you should be worried about.” If you think your pet will be tenderly nurtured through the night after surgery at a veterinary office or hospital, think again. Many vets don”t staff their offices overnight, so it’s important to ask about what happens in the wee hours.Laura Ireland Moore, an animal law attorney in Portland, Ore., says she represented a client who took her dog to the vet after stitches from a routine spaying came undone. The veterinarian repaired the stitches with metal sutures but neglected to put a cone over the dog”s head to protect the wound during an overnight stay. The office was unattended through the night, and by morning the animal had chewed through the sutures — as well as 15 feet of its own intestines. The agonized dog had to be put down. The moral of this unpleasant story: “You should definitely check if anyone will be on the premises overnight,” Moore says.
If the facility doesn’t have a night attendant, or if you don”t trust his or her credentials — a late-shift babysitter may or may not be a vet or even a vet technician — you should ideally find a facility where a licensed vet stays over, Moore advises.