Equine Veterinary Bashing

A colleague commented recently that vet bashing is becoming epidemic. Years ago, vets were respected for what they knew, not challenged at every turn.

Part of this change is because vets are expected to know everything there is to know about each and every problem the horse may have, but that’s simply unrealistic. Important information emerges every year, and no vet can keep up with it all.

If your vet says he or she doesn’t know too much about a particular problem, or tells you they can’t answer a question, respect them for their honesty and give them a chance to make other recommendations for your horse.

Part of this change is due to the ”information highway.” An owner who takes the initiative to learn about equine health is great to have. If you can research an issue and present me with valid information I didn’t know before, I’m all ears.

However, there’s a lot of misinformation out there, especially on the Internet, and most owners don’t know how to sort through what’s true and what’s science fiction. If your vet becomes impatient when you ask questions, he or she is simply expressing the frustration of trying to undo the bad information so many of their clients pick up.

If the person you’re listening to doesn’t have equine-specific veterinary certification, he or she may be giving you inaccurate, even dangerous, advice. It doesn’t matter if they have a Ph.D. in rocket science. If their training isn’t specific to the horse and the subject they’re commenting on, it’s not reliable. The physiology and metabolism of a horse is very different from a human, dog or cow.

Sometimes there’s a darker side to the information you’re given, where the intention is to replace your vet and to sell you XYZ products and services instead. The products or services will claim to have a unique insight that ”traditional” medicine doesn’t understand, even claim to be backed by extensive research — research that no one ever sees. Or it’s based on testimonials — testimonials a vet would see through in the first few lines.

These charlatans will also go to lengths to make you believe they’re capable of making diagnoses and treating diseases. This isn’t only illegal, it’s also ridiculous. Some will claim to make diagnoses using ”alternative” tests, like kinesiology. Still others want you to send them case histories and blood work, but they’ll never recommend repeating blood work. They will recommend that you buy their products.

Vets have education in anatomy, physiology, biochemistry and physical examination. Most importantly, they’re trained to think scientifically, to want facts and results they can combine with their training. But they aren’t perfect. If you aren’t satisfied with your vet’s personality or field of expertise, move on. But move on to another vet, not a self-proclaimed expert.

Eleanor Kellon, VMD,
Veterinary Editor

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