Thursday, January 26, 2012

Signs Of A Bad Economy?

I hope that I can someday look back and talk about this time in my professional life the same way that my mentors talked about what being a vet was like 25 years ago.

I worked with one vet who would always talk about flea & ticks with the same opening lines. He would say, "25 years ago we only had powders and toxic smelly dips to use to treat flea infestations. Now we have these convenient monthly topicals. Boy veterinary medicine has changed! We may pay a little extra, but gone are the days of pets having to die of flea infestation because we didn't have anything effective to treat them with." He sold a whole lot of flea and tick preventatives when he recalled the "old days" with his clients.

I hope that someday I will be looking back, and talking about this terrible economy from an "I learned about blank because I lived through that time."

Here's how I am seeing the effects of a terrible economy.

People are dumping their problem pets at the shelters like I have never seen before. Any sign of a problem and they bail. It is disheartening to put it mildly. Somehow humanity has been lost because we are worried about our bank accounts. Now, I know this is a gross generalization, and I know that many people are truly struggling, but the people I see dumping their pets still have cable, iphones, and manicures. I just don't get it. I would sacrifice almost everything, (I mean this) to keep my pets. My pets are my salvation. My sanity, and my life companions. Maybe I just see the world differently? I don't know, I just don't understand it.

I am also seeing the number of positive heartworm cases escalating like I have never seen before. Fewer people are buying the preventative and giving it monthly, and more dogs are testing positive because of this. Subsequently more dogs are carrying the disease, more dogs are spreading the disease.

We are lucky that Northern Maryland is not a prevalent heartworm disease area. I used to see maybe 1 case a year, and these were usually rescue dogs that had come from down south, (heartworm disease is carried by mosquito's and it is much more common down south because of this), but in the last few months we have seen 4 cases.

Heartworm disease is spread by mosquito's infecting your dog (and cat) with microfilaria for a heartworm positive animal. The microfilaria are killed by heartworm preventatives that are available in chewable treat form, topical liquid form and even a 6 month injectable is available. In many cases the preventative costs a few dollars a month for each pet. It is safe, incredibly effective and as I say everyday, "one of the most important parts of pet care. because you get a lot of bang for your buck with heartworm preventatives. many of the available preventatives on the market today not only prevent this potentially life-threatening disease but they also treat and protect your pet against some of the most common intestinal worms your pet is susceptible to. For a few dollars a month you prevent disease, treat your pet or worms, and help insure that you and your children don't get one of these worms yourself." It is an easy sell no-brainer for me.

To make matters worse the treatment for this disease has become almost impossible, (I am using "almost" although it is more honest if I just omit it), to get the treatment for this disease. So what are we to do? More pets are getting the disease, and now we can't treat it. It is a preventative disease that is now becoming more and more common place. And dogs are being dumped at the shelters because a preventable disease is now harder (and very expensive) to treat.

Am I going to look back on this time in history and say, "I lived, and practiced through a time in history where a completely preventable life-threatening disease that I rarely ever saw became an epidemic because people chose to not use the preventative and then couldn't treat their dog when they became positive with heartworms?"

Gosh, I really hope not.

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