Is Mars Taking Over Veterinary Medicine?

Companies buying other companies is nothing new. It happens in all sorts of businesses, from banking to technology to cable and internet providers. Sometimes, it causes prices to be raised. Sometimes it results in better service for the consumer, and even lowers prices. But in some fields, I believe it to be a potential problem, creating undue influence and control over how services and products are provided to consumers. Such is the case with veterinary medicine and the Mars Corporation.

As you may know, Mars currently owns:

Mars Petcare is the world’s biggest veterinary health group with hospitals such as BANFIELD®, BLUE PEARL®, PET PARTNERS®, and VCA® – making Mars the largest veterinary operation in the North America.

Connected Solutions, Mars Petcare’s newest business division is the hotbed for future innovation with WISDOM PANEL® HEALTH patented genetic technology testing for dogs and the WHISTLE® dog tracker.

(all above taken from the Mars website)

In addition, Antech Laboratories (a leading veterinary laboratory) and Camp Bow Wow were acquired by Mars when they purchased VCA.
Recently, Mars’ has decided to go international. Check out their recent purchases, as reported in Pet Food Industry magazine:





Why is this worrisome? Isn’t Mars just a company making smart business decisions? Smart, perhaps, but what about the influence upon and control of my veterinary colleagues? What about the choices owners will have, when the veterinary hospital, laboratory, prescription and OTC food options are all owned by the same company? What about when that company also owns the veterinary specialty hospitals that the general practice will refer cases to? Or the boarding and daycare facility? Will it be like when a Walmart comes into a town, and puts all the small shops and business out of business? And do Hill’s and Purina think they will be selling their products in veterinary hospitals owned by Mars, who has their own prescription line of Royal Canin products?

I have talked with several colleagues who have worked in corporate practices, such as Banfield and VCA. While some had good experiences, most were very unhappy working there. From inflexible medical policies to turning away sick animals so only wellness/vaccine visits were seen, the veterinarian’s ability to practice quality medicine as they learned in veterinary college was often limited. Production (the term for how much revenue a vet brings in) was closely monitored. And of course, it was all about selling product, from “prescription” foods and treats to extra vaccines and laboratory testing, the pressure was always on to make more money. In fact, at one time Banfield gave a gift to their veterinarians in the form of a money clip. If you have any doubt about the value they place on money, read the inscription.

So, what should you, as a concerned pet owner, do? Vote with your hard earned dollars! Know whose pockets you are filling, and support the people and companies that keep your pet’s health as their first priority. There’s nothing wrong with a business making a profit, but not when it comes at the expense of good quality medicine, a good working environments for veterinarians and their staff, and prioritizes profits over pets.









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