Thursday, July 26, 2012
Pet Smarts: ‘Think global, act local’ begins
at home – and at your veterinarian’s office
Photo from Sheabel Pet Care Center
By Dr. Lori Eidson
Sheabel Pet Care Center
I was at a small group discussion at church recently and the topic of conversation was about being a responsible consumer. The conversation quickly turned “green.” We discussed such things as the impact of buying organic and locally grown produce. We all agreed that there were pros and cons to the concept of “think global, act local.”
The main concern for most folks was that organic and local produce tends to cost a little more. However, those who actively support our local farmers markets seemed to be very proud of their actions to help the community, both environmentally and economically. We also discussed, briefly, other small businesses. Most members of my small group also felt better about shopping at local botiques or restaraunts versus big box stores and chain restaurants. Despite the genre of consumerism, most people believed that buying locally not only supported the community, but guaranteed a better product.
As a veterinarian, buying local and supporting small businesses is a topic that I never realized would impact me so deeply. What do local produce and boutique clothes have to do with me? Then it hit me … the clinic in which I practice is a local small business too!
If that’s the case, why do we have so many requests each day for prescriptions to be called in to big box pharmacies and clients ordering medications from 1-800 numbers or other products online? This has seemed like an uphill battle over the last few years. We were at the point of almost giving up, but then my collegues and I came to a conclusion: We guarantee a better product.
The truth of ordering products or medications outside of your local veterinarian’s office is that you have no idea where those products are coming from or how your pet’s important prescriptions are being handled. This may not seem like a big deal if you can save a few dollars here and there, but it is a very big deal when these purchases have consequences.
Though I have many examples, I will share just a few. If you order your heartworm medication from a 1-800 number, you run the risk of receiving a product that is expired or that has been shipped from a country that has fewer regulations on pharmaceutical safety. There is no garuantee to accomany your purchase. If your dog is diagnosed with heartworm disease and your pet has used one of these products, you are responsible for the all medical care.
On the other hand, if the heartworm preventive is purchased through your veterinarian’s office, most drug companies will guarantee their product and pay for the cost of treatment for your pet if the product fails. Similarly, some flea prevention products go as far as to offer extermination services if you have purchased your flea product through your veterinarian. There are no such services offered via knock-off, over-the-counter flea products or those purchased online.
Finally, as an antidote: A client presented a prescription to a pharmacy, and the pharmacy refused to fill the prescription as written because the medication was “not safe at the prescribed dose.” Further, there was no counseling available (i.e., this product needs to be given with a meal) because the pharmacy tech did not know that this was important in dogs. The client left with a lower dose of antibiotic and then became upset that her pet’s skin infection did not resolve.
My point is not to scare you or make you feel bad for wanting to save a few pennies. My hope is that you will see that your local veterinarian is a small business owner. Your local vet has devoted his or her life to ensuring the care and safety of your pets. No one but your veterinarian can provide better treatment options. No one else can educate you on how to use medications and products safely and effectively. No one else can provide a guarantee on certain products such as flea and heartworm medications.
Additionally, no one else will spend more time talking with you, doting over your pet and helping perpetuate the bond between you and your pet than your veterinarian. We are small business people that depend on our community to help keep the business alive. I hope that you can feel as satisfied about visiting your local veterinarian as you can shopping at the farmers market. Your local actions do make a difference!
Dr. Lori Eidson is a veterinarian at Sheabel Pet Care Center. She graduated from Transylvania University in 2004 and continued on to Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine. Eidson is a native of Madison County.