Health or Wealth - What Motivates Your Vet Surgery?

Looking after the health and welfare of your Schnauzer can be a full time job. You will find information on neutering, spaying, vaccinations, vet visits, upset tummies, Schnauzer bumps and much more here. Ask a question and someone will have had a similar experience. We also appreciate updates on how your Schnauzer is recuperating. A separate section is dedicated to our older Schnauzers.
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Re: Health or Wealth - What Motivates Your Vet Surgery?

Post by zeta1454 »

I agree that it is best to have a look at the issues that are important to you personally with regard to choice of vet surgery and work out what are the priorities as regards your own dogs. It is important to us that we have 24 hour cover at the vet surgery from vets who know us and our dogs rather than having to use an emergency vet hospital for out of hours.

As we had previous bad experiences with vet surgeries since moving to Yorkshire including our first which was based solely on recommendation from locals, before moving to our current practice ( which is RCVS accredited but 20 miles away from our home ) I emailed to explain that we raw feed and minimally vaccinate our dogs and enquired whether this would be an issue and had a reply from the head vet to say that although they operated on a conventional basis regarding vaccination etc they accepted owners' decisions regarding these matters for their own dogs. The practice stocks Royal Canin food and has a surgery liberally decorated with posters advocating flea and worm treatments and a TV displaying promotional pharmaceutical ads regarding vaccines but I just use the surgery when needed for health checks for our dogs etc and ignore the aspects that are not relevant for me. We trust the vets for actual surgery expertise and advice on health problems if and when they arise but will always ultimately make our own decisions for our dogs regarding treatment.

We have been given a tour of the operating theatre and behind the scenes at the surgery and the vets are happy to explain their views while respecting ours which is OK for us and much better than the situation with our previous vets :)
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Re: Health or Wealth - What Motivates Your Vet Surgery?

Post by patty1 »

We are registered with one of the vets4pets it is a small surgery with one full time vet and one part time vet plus vet nurses. We changed from the vets we had used for 20 years plus, as it extended opening other surgerys and employing lots of trainee vets. It became that every time we went we would see a different vet who seemed to have a different idea to treatment and diagnosis. We had a Westie with skin problems so were regular customers, after the vets trying to put her on permanent (daily) costly medication which was making her sick so causing other problems we changed. We also felt we were paying top rates for trainee vets as the cost of treatments and medication continued to go up.
We now see the same vet who knows our dogs and feel a lot more satisfied with the service we get.
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Re: Health or Wealth - What Motivates Your Vet Surgery?

Post by zeta1454 »

This is an old post but it came back to mind recently when I noticed on Facebook that an independent vet surgery had highlighted the fact that the takeover of vet surgeries by management companies can lead to an increased financial burden on clients whose pets need diagnostic work / specialist surgery and/or the likelihood of rising insurance premiums if the most costly options are being offered to clients through the referral centre owned by the company rather than looking at the most cost effective approach for that individual family and their dog.

The Facebook post by the surgery had been prompted by a recent experience where a family had approached them after being unable to meet the £6,000 quoted by their regular vet surgery for a referral and treatment by an Orthopaedic Surgeon /Neurologist for their pet who was suffering spinal issues. The only other option given to them was to do nothing but rest the pet at home which was only leading to a worsening of the condition. The vet explained that:

"In cases of limited funding with no (or insufficient) insurance, provided deep pain sensation is still present in the hind limbs at the initial neurological examination, we can perform CT imaging and surgery for approximately £2500. If a CT is not affordable, we can also perform myelography with x-rays which may provide the necessary information in order to proceed to surgery....Sadly many practices are owned by corporate organisations, who direct the vets to refer to a referral centre also owned by the corporation, and they regard client retention as more important than getting a result for the individual animal. Many clients and patients are not being offered this intermediate level of expertise and help which we provide. Which does raise lots of ethical questions about corporate ownership...."
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Bodee
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Re: Health or Wealth - What Motivates Your Vet Surgery?

Post by Bodee »

This thread has started me thinking.

All in all I am pretty happy with my vet practice who call themselves a "Group" now having branched out around Fife, up here in Scotland. They still seem to be independent but they have gone into offering these pet package healthcare programmes Zeta mentions

http://www.stclairvet.co.uk/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Interestingly given that they don't appear to offer titre testing they say in their "about us" section "We keep up to date with all new treatments and health programmes" They do however offer cardiology referral, ophthalmic and acupuncture services. They were also one of the first vets up here to do tibial plateau levelling knee ligament surgery pioneered I believe in the USA.

However when Max was to get that treatment I questioned whether he was a big enough dog to justify it and they changed their mind and gave him the more traditional artificial ligament treatment which was a big success in any case. I had been wary about the amount of stainless steel used in TPL.

One other point of contention I had with my vet was that Max had very loose stools off and on for quite a while (about 3 years) and he was treated for renal colic. However after about 3 years of having this condition one of their young vets said "Have you tried feeding him this?" and brought out a 2 kg bag of Royal Canins Gastro Intestinal GI 25. I said no and remarked that no one had suggested it before.

Well the transformation was miraculous. I couldn't believe a simple thing like a change of food could have had such an effect. Ok on the face of it that sounds silly, even naive but bear in mind up to that point not one vet had suggested a change of food preparation. Max remained on that food until the end.

Latterly I was paying a fixed amount for a Vet certificate and sourcing Max's drugs on line where I found them to be cheaper. Especially Metacam.
They do have an out of hours and public holiday service provided by Vets Now which although started in Scotland seems to be UK wide now.

https://www.vets-now.com" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I don't think my vet is perfect but I still believe they are the best around, as I did when I first registered Max there. However I can see I will be in for some interesting conversations if they fight me on yearly boosters and no titre testing.


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Re: Health or Wealth - What Motivates Your Vet Surgery?

Post by Barbarauttley »

We have had various vets over the years and only changed when we have moved areas.
I always found their charges similar and their knowledge good.
Our current vet charges £31 for a consultation plus exorbitant charges for medication which would be much less online. Of course you cannot get them online unless you have a vets prescription!
I stick with them as they are reliable, their treatment has always worked and I nearly always see the same person.
They have recently stopped asking me about annual vaccinations which I don't agree with.

WHAT IS THE CURRENT CHARGE FOR A CONSULTATION FROM YOUR VET?
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Re: Health or Wealth - What Motivates Your Vet Surgery?

Post by Bodee »

Barbarauttley wrote:We have had various vets over the years and only changed when we have moved areas.
I always found their charges similar and their knowledge good.
Our current vet charges £31 for a consultation plus exorbitant charges for medication which would be much less online. Of course you cannot get them online unless you have a vets prescription!
I stick with them as they are reliable, their treatment has always worked and I nearly always see the same person.
They have recently stopped asking me about annual vaccinations which I don't agree with.

WHAT IS THE CURRENT CHARGE FOR A CONSULTATION FROM YOUR VET?
Mine used to be around the £33 mark.
I always sought to buy Max's drugs on line as I found that even giving my vet £13 for a prescription and buying it on line proved cheaper for many things. And some non prescription treatments were also cheaper.
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Re: Health or Wealth - What Motivates Your Vet Surgery?

Post by zeta1454 »

With our first miniature schnauzers, we lived in Newcastle upon Tyne and were literally round the corner from a very good vet surgery and we had no issues with their service at all. When we moved to Yorkshire ( although this is no comment on Yorkshire surgeries generally!) we had very bad experiences with both local practices and have since moved our dogs to a much superior practice 25 miles away. For us, the quality of care is paramount and the fact that they operate emergency services 24/7 from that actual practice is a bonus which we have taken advantage of on a few occasions (due to breeding). Charges are less significant if we are getting a first class service.

The charge for a consultation at our current vet practice in normal opening hours is £25.

I am well aware that many vets do charge significantly higher prices for some medications that could be purchased more cheaply online or, for certain conditions, they use “human” medication which could be bought at a fraction of the cost in a high street pharmacy. However, my personal concern is less with charges for items or treatment but rather with those vet surgeries that, in order to maximise regular income, encourage clients to vaccinate their dogs annually or triennially rather than automatically offering a titre test to establish if there is any need to vaccinate; promote anti-parasitic treatments for worms / fleas etc when there is no established need; and persuade people that their dogs need to be vaccinated against Leptospirosis regardless of whether there is any real risk of them contracting this at all. Often this will be perpetuated by encouraging clients to sign up for “health plan” type contracts which include annual vaccination and regular anti-parasitic treatments as part of the generalised “dog package” rather than promoting an individually tailored approach to each particular dog’s health needs and requirements or, even better, only offering treatments to dogs as and when they present with a health problem.

I have no issue particularly with paying (even high charges) for a first class service as regards surgery and other health advice or treatment for conditions from which any of our dogs may be suffering. As it is, we do not get repeat vaccinations, anti-parasitics, or any Lepto vaccine for any of our dogs nor do we buy the single brand food on display in the surgery so it is not so much due to concern on a personal level that I first put up this post. We use the vet surgery services on a need basis and not as a regular port of call for products that our dogs IMO are far better without. However, there are many dog owners who may not be aware or have not researched vaccines, anti-parasitics etc. and are relying on their vets’ advice as regards these non-essential “prophylactic” services. This is where I believe too many vet surgeries are failing clients and their dogs as the desire for a guaranteed regular income via non-essential treatments means that “wealth rather than health” is the driving force behind their promotions. This may be largely down to the need to please the pharmaceutical company / pet food manufacturer that subsidise their surgery and/or the fact that the surgery is now part of a management company-run international business but, when dogs’ long term health is concerned, I don't think that is a good enough excuse.


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Re: Health or Wealth - What Motivates Your Vet Surgery?

Post by zeta1454 »

This is a return to a topic that I initially posted several years back and that seemed worth re-visiting. Sadly the vet practice which most of our dogs are registered with and which (as I said in my previous post on this thread) I was very happy to use, has in recent years shifted more towards the ‘wealth’ than ‘health’ in its practice. We rarely visit the vets and when we do we want to trust that we are getting a professional and accurate assessment of the dog concerned. Once a year ago we had a dog health checked after a routine spay only to be told that she had fleas which we knew for a fact she did not. The sales pitch for a treatment for these non-existent parasites fell on deaf ears with us of course but it did raise concerns that this was simply a means to persuade us to purchase an unnecessary product. More recently after a visit with one of our Affens who had recently given birth we were advised that she had an infection and needed antibiotics which again was not the case - a discharge post birth is perfectly normal for several weeks or more and, either the vet was unaware of this or was again pushing us into purchasing an unnecessary pharmaceutical product. With the latter, we did actually buy the antibiotics (it can be hard sometimes to question those who should be knowledgeable in a particular area of expertise and we did not want to risk our girl becoming ill) but they were not used as it was self evident that she did not have an infection at all. However on examining the pack of the antibiotics, the brand name ‘mi pet’ appeared on them which puzzled us as this is the brand owned by CVS the management company who own a large number of vet practices but not ours which still calls itself ‘independent’. Research online uncovered the fact that CVS not only buy up vet practices but allow ‘independent’ vet practices to join their ‘buying club’ to access their branded pharmaceuticals at a discount. Needless to say there will be some pay back to CVS for this concession and if that is in promoting products which are not needed or selected referral services etc. I feel the ‘independent’ tag is not quite what I would hope it meant.

We do have two of our dogs now registered with another independent vet practice as a trial to see how we feel about their service but it is frustrating trying to find a vet we can have full trust in which really shouldn’t be the case. Of course, it is not vital that a vet practice fulfils all our hopes of what a health provider for animals should offer. As long as we know what or who may be influencing some of their decisions, we can make an informed judgement about how much we trust their advice on particular issues - nutrition, parasite control, vaccinations and breeding in particular - but it is not a situation I am happy with as I would much prefer to have a professional, honest service which really does place our dogs’ welfare before their profits.

It is also worth highlighting for others that via the MiPet buying club, other vet surgeries throughout the country may not be quite as ‘independent’ as they appear.

https://www.mipet.com/about-mipet.html

Note:
“ The distribution of our products is managed by us, supplying only associated practices and members, they are not available through online pharmacies or direct to the end user, this measure helps to improve retention of sales, and regular visits to practice to collect product, ensuring clients and pets receive the best professional attention.”
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Re: Health or Wealth - What Motivates Your Vet Surgery?

Post by Oscar 12345 »

Thankfully my rural vet is still independent however I can't help thinking that if all pet owners were like me they wouldn't be in business very long. Hard to know how to support them when you are trying everything you can to keep things natural to avoid them.
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Re: Health or Wealth - What Motivates Your Vet Surgery?

Post by Dawnspell »

Oscar 12345 wrote: 11 Aug 2020, 13:14 Thankfully my rural vet is still independent however I can't help thinking that if all pet owners were like me they wouldn't be in business very long. Hard to know how to support them when you are trying everything you can to keep things natural to avoid them.
.

Very true :))
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Re: Health or Wealth - What Motivates Your Vet Surgery?

Post by zeta1454 »

Oscar 12345 wrote: 11 Aug 2020, 13:14 Thankfully my rural vet is still independent however I can't help thinking that if all pet owners were like me they wouldn't be in business very long. Hard to know how to support them when you are trying everything you can to keep things natural to avoid them.
I know it is a lighthearted comment and I agree to some extent - obviously vets do need to make enough of a profit to keep their businesses going but I do also wonder whether nowadays with access to so much information and shared experience online that one of the reasons more people are avoiding vet surgeries to keep their dogs and cats well is because the service offered is not one they trust so they avoid the surgery and make their own decisions on how to keep their pets healthy, which may be good for some and not for others. If the vets were knowledgeable and open minded on how to keep dogs and cats fit and well, maybe they could tempt more clients to come for regular health checks and other services.

We also have two bearded dragons at home and, when they need to see a vet, we go to a surgery that offers specialist vets for exotic creatures. The first time we visited this practice ( which strangely enough is a CVS practice) with one of our dragons, the experience was so different from seeing a vet about one of the dogs. The vet wanted to know all the background of where we had acquired him, whether he was on a species appropriate diet, how he was housed, the specific lighting and heating needs etc......He took a faecal sample to check re parasites and showed us the result including the images as there was a minor parasite issue that needed treatment and he fully explained what was being given. No promotion of food, suggestion of regular parasite treatment or other unnecessary products. We are happy to take our dragons for a regular six monthly check-up under these circumstances for peace of mind that they are fit and well.

If vets showed as much serious interest in where people had acquired their puppies / kittens / dogs or cats, how they were being looked after and whether they were on a species appropriate diet; if they offered titre tests rather than automatic vaccinations, and faecal tests for worms / examination for fleas and ticks rather than regular parasite chemicals, it would be a start in encouraging people to bring their pets for regular health checks without fear of being badgered into getting products they don’t want or need.

There will always be the need for vet visits at some time or another in almost every dog or cat household even if only to check that all is well with them as they age, and the more integrated care and services a vet practice offers, the more they can appeal to a wider client range in my view. If acupuncture, chiropractic, herbal or nutritional supplements and similar were available at the vet surgery they may find more clients willing to come for those too. As it is, we use a private chiropractic service for our senior dogs which we are very happy with but it could be a service that would bring us into a vet surgery if offered there (as I know some vet surgeries do). I would expect a good vet to show a real interest in the individual dog/cat and share with the client their knowledge of the breed or type, any common health concerns for that breed/type, and their specific needs and, when the dog or cat did need treatment, that the vet would explore the best options from a range of modalities e.g for pain relief not just doling out Metacam regardless. A good vet may well find that clients whose dogs are generally healthy will trust their advice and be willing to visit regularly and pay for relevant health checks over and above more urgent needs for treatment.
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Re: Health or Wealth - What Motivates Your Vet Surgery?

Post by Dawnspell »

The obstacle at the moment is cats and dogs are vets bread and butter money and the complementary medicine practitioners can make more money on a private patient basis. I'm assuming that, I have no experience of cost having not used any complementary services but you'd have more vets practices offering their services if they made the same money working at a vets as working private.

I do think the vets could offer wormcount services they have lab facilities and they could offer owner courses on natural pest control and sell products such as diatomaceous earth, neem oil etc. You'd also think that some of the larger higher quality food companies e.g. Nature's menu, nature diet who do the full range of tinned, raw, kibble could offer the same incentives as royal canin and hills.

I know they make money on neutering but I've not heard of any vet try to sell suprelorin implant before neuterung. At £100 at time plus cost to implant they're slipping up. (That was Guernsey price few years ago when I was considering it for Barney)

Maybe the big national vet companies will end up combining all animal practice services in super sized vets practices. Almost like a giant stores where you can buy everything from food, supplements, all dog products and get advice while your dog has it's hydrotherapy treatment or something. I don't know, who knows what's happening in the world these days.
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Re: Health or Wealth - What Motivates Your Vet Surgery?

Post by zeta1454 »

Dawnspell wrote: 12 Aug 2020, 16:40
…Maybe the big national vet companies will end up combining all animal practice services in super sized vets practices. Almost like a giant stores where you can buy everything from food, supplements, all dog products and get advice while your dog has its hydrotherapy treatment or something. I don't know, who knows what's happening in the world these days.
Just over 3 years on and the ‘super-sized’ pet company is now here, although rather than being run by vets it is the vet practices that are being run by global corporations, in this case Mars (the confectioners and now with its tentacles in a multitude of businesses including ‘pet care’).

This from their website:
“ Mars Petcare is part of Mars, Incorporated, a family-owned business with more than a century of history making diverse products and offering services for people and the pets people love. Our almost 100,000 Associates across 130 countries are dedicated to one purpose: A BETTER WORLD FOR PETS. With 85 years of experience, our portfolio of almost 50 brands serves the health and nutrition needs of the world's pets – including brands PEDIGREE®, WHISKAS®, ROYAL CANIN®, SHEBA®, CESAR®, GREENIES™,  IAMS™ and EUKANUBA™ as well as the WALTHAM Petcare Science Institute which has advanced research in the nutrition and health of pets for over 50 years. Mars Petcare is also a leading veterinary health provider through an international network of more than 2,500 pet hospitals and diagnostic services including AniCura, Antech,  AntechAsia Veterinary Diagnostics, BANFIELD, BLUEPEARL, Linnaeus, Mount Pleasant, VCA, VES, and VSH. We're also active in innovation and technology for pets, with WISDOM PANEL™ genetic health screening and DNA testing for dogs, the WHISTLE™ GPS dog tracker, and LEAP VENTURE STUDIO accelerator and COMPANION FUND™ programs that drive innovation and disruption in the pet care industry.”

They are making good money out of it for sure:
“Mars, Incorporated,…..is headquartered in McLean, Virginia, and is one of the largest privately held companies in the United States, with annual sales of more than $45 billion in 2022.” (Britannica)

And ranked second in the world of the top 10 richest families in 2022:

The Mars family with $160 billion (Investopedia)

The problem is that the more control any one company has over every aspect of provision for pets, the less choice and control over these are on offer to pet families and often without them even knowing that what appears to be a range of different brands / services are all owned by the same multinational.

Sadly, our own independent vet surgery has bowed to financial pressure / possibilities and is now effectively a Mars owned company. The individual vets have not changed and we hope their experience and practical care will not affect treatment any time it is needed but I do worry that new vets coming out of sponsored veterinary colleges/ universities may be more compliant when it comes to promoting unnecessary “preventative” protocols and over-vaccination as well as unhealthy kibble.

Three years on, and against all the most up to date scientific knowledge, vet surgeries are still marketing the ‘pet health plan’ a monthly rip-off service whereby clients pay for unnecessary ‘booster’ vaccinations and regular anti-parasitic treatments under the guise of keeping their pets healthy when they may well be making them ill. Routine neutering of dogs is another ‘cash cow’ supported by many vet practices which has been proven to be a potential health risk especially if carried out before maturity.

I think the only solution for pet families nowadays is to research for themselves as much as possible when it comes to caring for their dogs as regards nutrition and all routine treatments which may be proposed for them. We use our vets solely for times when there is a real need and even then check out all the background information on procedures and medication suggested (there is good access to all this information online nowadays) and I am sure that our dogs are healthier as a result.
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