I’ve Been Eavesdropping on Veterinarians!

I recently attended the American Veterinary Medical Conference (AVMA) in San Diego. It’s a wonderful opportunity to eavesdrop on the veterinary world, get the latest facts and figures and sit in on interesting workshops.

Every five years, AVMA produces a well-researched Pet Demographic Sourcebook and the latest version is due out this fall. It’s a highly respected tome and, in fact, the U.S. Census Bureau cites it in their publications.

At a press conference, Allison Shepherd, AVMA senior manager of market research, was on hand to share some really attention-grabbing information about pet ownership, which the Sourcebook will go into in detail.

Interestingly, there is a slight decline in American households with pets. It’s down 2.4 percent in the past five years. This further breaks down to a decrease in dog ownership by 1.9 percent and cat ownership by 6.2 percent. Nevertheless, cats still rule as America’s most popular companion pet!

Of course, being a veterinary conference, the study highlighted that there has been an increase in the number of visits dogs make to the veterinarian. Sadly, cat visits are down.

One of the biggest problems with cats is that they are very good at masking their illness and hiding symptoms. So it takes a really astute owner to monitor their pets and be in tune with their well-being.

If your cat is hiding a lot – that’s a big clue that all may not be well. And, if your cat stops eating, even her favorite food, that is a very big red flag that it’s time to visit the veterinarian.

In all honestly, all pets should at least get one wellness visit a year. The Sourcebook delves into the reasons why this is not always the case. One major cause could be the expense of the visit, and the fact that many pet owners feel they don’t get any value from the visit, in the sense that the veterinarian doesn’t spend any time discussing their pet with them.

I feel as pet owners, perhaps it’s time to be more proactive. If the vet visit is a financial challenge, ask the vet’s office if you can make payments. I was once faced with a huge bill and the office was willing to work with the request. The second thing is, as a pet owner, go armed with information and ask questions! Like it is in the human medical world, not every veterinarian is a conversational people person. So don’t be shy to initiate a conversation.

One of the biggest challenges facing pets in America is that they are overweight. The survey reveals that there is a 37 percent increase in overweight dogs and a 90 percent increase in overweight cats! This is serious and leads to various medical issues that can be avoided. Fat pets are NOT cute! They’re not able to live a normal, healthy life, either.

The other interesting snippet gleaned at the conference is that 80 percent of pet owners get their pet health information from pet health blogs like this one!

So take what you read here at Pet Health Central from the talented team of veterinarians and experts, like Dr. Tony Johnson and Dr. Rod Van Horn, and use the information to your best advantage when you next visit your vet.

And please, put a visit to the vet on your “To Do List” now. You can avert health problems and possibly extend your pet’s life.

Now that’s a win-win situation and definitely worth every cent.


-Photo Credit: by Lindsey Turner from flickr

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