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WITH their report on discussions between veterinarians and clients during annual examinations, summarised on page 235 in this week's issue of Veterinary Record, Roshier and McBride (2012a) have issued a clarion call for improvement in how we train veterinarians. Veterinary medicine is a field that increasingly lauds itself for progress in advanced care and One Health, yet the portrait painted here, in regards to behavioural advice, resembles absent care and half health.
During 17 visits with six veterinarians, clients told veterinarians a total of 58 concerns they had about their dogs' behaviours. Only 10 of these 58 concerns were discussed at all during the consultation, and none was fully pursued. One would be hard pressed to believe that, had the clients complained of finding 58 enlarged lymph nodes, only 17 per cent of them would have been explored.
That such dichotomy still exists within veterinary medicine between the practise of somatic healthcare and mental healthcare is unsatisfactory, both economically and for public health. In the USA, the average practice loses $2200 per relinquished cat and $3300 per relinquished dog, on average, in the most simple, basic services that are not delivered over an average 15-year lifespan (ASPCA 2011). Not included in this estimate is grooming, boarding, products of any kind (including food), any surgery, first year or emergency care. Even when providing only minimal care, veterinary surgeons don't have to lose very many patients to behavioural issues to realise that their lost income could have become the cost of equipment, a retirement plan or an associate.
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