Fleas, Ticks, and Vets

I received one of my vet journals recently, Clinician’s Brief. It is a great great monthly resource, with educational articles on a variety of veterinary topics. This month’s issue featured articles on interpreting bacterial culture results, techniques for repairing chest malformations in kittens, new drugs and more. I always look through every page of  every issue, as it is more useful than most of the journals I receive. Yet as I went through this issue, something caught my attention.

First, there was the cover. Which actually was a cover of the cover.

 

The real cover actually looked like this.

Yes, the detachable front cover was an ad for a monthly flea tick chewable product.

Next came this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And more followed, including a 2 page ad:

 

 

 

And on the back cover, yet another: Yes, a total of six full pages of advertisements for flea and tick products. Plus another four pages of prescribing information for these products. Ten pages in total of the 86 pages of the journal (counting the covers as pages). In the journal, there were 27 full page ads. That means 22% of the ads were for flea and tick products. Is flea and tick control really 22% of veterinary medicine? What about wellness care, cancer, infectious diseases, injuries, surgery, cardiology, dermatology, dental care, metabolic diseases, and even the simple case of diarrhea? These are the things that make up 99% of my day at the veterinary hospital…

Now I get that journals and magazines have to cover costs and generate profit, and advertising does that. And there are owners who will want and use these products. My concern is the “product-izing” of my profession, at the expense of  thoughtful care and medicine. The constant promotion of products, whether in advertising, daily practice, vet school, or at conferences,  creates a thought process where we the dispensing of a pill is the solution to a problem. Instead, I advocate looking for the cause of the problem, and focusing on ways to remove that cause. Product based medicine also ignores all the methods holistic or integrative veterinarians utilize to strengthen and support the body, so it can fight off disease or recover from injury more effectively. We want our pets to live the best and longest lives possible. Veterinary medicine focused on products will always be a band aid, while veterinary medicine that takes a whole body, biological approach to disease and recovery can be a cure.


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