Monday, June 29, 2009

Whose Decision Is It, Anyway?

(Contributed by Dr. Jessica Levy)

Okay, so veterinarians have been over-vaccinating animals for years. A lot of health problems and serious diseases are caused by vaccines. Many animals suffer severe reactions or even die after vaccination. It's all true.

In spite of this, I think that blasting veterinarians as the sole source of over-vaccination is overrated. How many times have I been forced against my better judgment to vaccinate an animal because the boarding kennel, the groomer, or the trainer required that the pet have "all his shots" before setting paw in their establishment? In order to take your dog to PetCo for a $5 nail trim, you have to prove that all the vaccines are up to date.

Any pet catalog will sell you any animal vaccine you want, and you can vaccinate your own pet as often as you please. In some states, the vaccines are available for purchase at farm stores or feed mills. State and municipal laws require boostering of rabies vaccines at predetermined intervals, regardless of what science tells us about post-vaccination duration of immunity.

Veterinarians play a decreasingly important role in deciding what gets done to animals and why. Yes, we're the ones conducting the research, but the information is not being disseminated to the wider public. In the past, we put so much time and effort into brainwashing people into believing that their pets would die without their annual shots, that now we've created an uncontrollable monster.

Some veterinarians may feel that if they don't follow the manufacturer's recommendation for that annual booster that they will expose themselves to legal attack. There have also been articles in the veterinary literature claiming that if I use a vaccine labeled for booster in a year, but I tell my client that it's good for three years, that I am putting my license at risk.

Hello, fellow veterinarians. We are professionals. We are highly educated. We have brains, and we can think. Can we regain control of this situation and put a stop to this nonsense? I fear that as a profession we are losing our credibility. The American Veterinary Medical Association has not shown the strong leadership I had hoped when I joined that organization. Veterinarians end up being blown around by the latest trends instead of taking a stand and upholding ourselves as the medical professionals we are.

Do day care employees determine the vaccination schedule of the children in their care? I think not.

Friday, June 26, 2009

It Doesn't Hurt

(Contributed by Dr. Jessica Levy)

I love it when people say that they know their pet is not in pain. The dog who is three-legged lame, the cat hiding in the closet, the horse who refuses a jump, whose owners all announce, "He doesn't seem to be in pain. Yeah, he's limping, hasn't eaten in three days, and his eye is squinted shut and crusty, but he seems to feel fine!"

Look at the person next to you in line at the bank, on the next treadmill over at the gym, in the checkout line at the grocery store. What do you think? Are they just starting to get a migraine, having really bad period cramps, or holding in a fart? Guess what - YOU CAN'T TELL!

Why the heck would we think we know what our pets are feeling? Are we a nation of animal communicators? (And don't even get me started on that topic!) Are we all psychic? Have we all dropped so much acid that now we can see auras? Not likely!

Bottom line, we have no idea what any person or animal is feeling. All we can base our assumptions on is what is thought to be normal for that animal or that species. When dogs are not in pain, they use all their limbs equally. When cats feel good, they are friendly and active. When horses feel limber and flexible, they take the jump with ease and confidence. And even these assumptions will get us fooled sometimes.