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Suffering through ignorance
  1. Ben Hardy
  1. The Open University Business School, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire MK7 6AA, UK
  1. e-mail: ben.hardy{at}

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Ben Hardy is concerned that too many pets are not getting the veterinary attention they need.

SHOULD I take my animal to the vet? This question is of critical importance in ensuring that animals are looked after appropriately. It would be comforting to think that sick animals receive veterinary care and well animals do not. The reality is rather different. Owners may bring well animals to the vet. Fortunately, this gives us the opportunity to assess the animal and reassure the owner. Far more worrying is the situation when sick animals are not presented to the vet.

If animals are not presented for veterinary care then all of the art and science of veterinary medicine is for naught (Hardy 2011). As the great surgeon William Osler put it, ‘To study medicine without reading textbooks is like going to sea without charts, but to study medicine without dealing with patients is not going to sea at all.’

How widespread is the problem of sick animals not being taken to the vet? Research by Davies (2011) suggests it is commonplace, particularly for older animals. Davies asked people visiting an animal health website which clinical signs in an older animal were serious enough to require veterinary attention. The results make uncomfortable …

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