Free Vaccines for the Life of Your Pet!

The doctors and medical team of my hospital, Maybeck Animal Hospital, have made the decision to offer free vaccines for the life of your pet.  While this is the main point of this blog post, it is important for pet owners and clients of Maybeck to understand what factors brought us to this decision.

It is with great disappointment and even a certain sense of anger that I have witnessed a troubling trend in the veterinary profession: the increasing presence of discount shot facilities, and real bottom of the veterinary barrel, mobile veterinarians that pull up to pharmacy and even gas station parking lots to give parasite screening, and in many cases, not even doing heartworm screening.

While the cynic may think that I have such distaste for these places because they take away a revenue stream from my practice, that notion could not be further from the truth.  I do not like these places because they take advantage of challenging economic times to find their own niche in selling cheap vaccines under the guise of real veterinary wellness care. Realistically, they are not giving the pet an examination (at least not by a licensed veterinarian), are not focusing on the importance of stool analysis for intestinal parasites, and many are not even doing heartworm screening on dogs.

The troubling results of this new trend in veterinary care, if one can even call it that, cannot be overstated.  Routine well visits (if one is not counting simply plugging a pet with shots a well visit) for dogs and cats have decreased profoundly in the past decade.   Cats are faring far worse than dogs, with currently only 18% or household cats receiving regular wellness care.

The results? 1 in 3 household dogs and cats carry a preventable parasite.  These parasites not only lead to decreased overall health and longevity for the pet, but many pose a significant danger to humans, especially young children, the elderly, and immune compromised individuals.  Many of these parasites linger asymptomatically until one day serious clinical disease manifests within the pet or a human member of the family.  

1 in 4 dogs and cats over the age of 5 years has chronic disease that is adversely affecting quality and longevity.  Whether it is periodontal disease, hypertension, heart murmur, osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease, ear infections, etc., please understand that although they may not outwardly show it, diseases such as these cause chronic pain, discomfort, stress, or fatigue, decreasing quality of life, while likely decreasing their life span.  And these are only a fewexamples diseases that we routinely find on physical examination and wellness screening.

Many pet owners justify using the discount shot facilities and wagons because their pet is perfectly healthy from their point of view.  What most do not realize, is that when saddled with disease, dogs and cats often suffer silently.  As animals, by their nature, they resist outwardly showing signs of pain or distress.  In the wild, when animals show pain or weakness, they are chased from their territory, predated upon, and have their food taken.  They thus do everything in their nature to hide their pain as it goes unnoticed by their owner.

Lastly, since their only source of revenue is vaccines, shot wagons and discount shot facilities do not tailor their vaccine protocols to suit the individual needs of each patient.  With the veterinary industry making a concerted effort to not over-vaccinate, we base the number of diseases we vaccinate for on the lifestyle and needs of the individual pet.  We also follow the guidelines of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) to use 3 year vaccines where research has conclusively proven that their protection lasts at least this long.

The discount shot facilities and wagons on the other hand,  will give your pet EVERY vaccine known to veterinary medicine whether your pet needs them or not.  Instead of following AVMA guidelines for 3 year vaccines, they continue to administer them every year.  Since they do not engage in actual medicine services and any other wellness care, the shots are their only revenue stream.  This is not only a major breach of ethics, but potentially dangerous for your pet.

In my practice, clients will be asked to have  a yearly examination, stool analysis, and heartworm screening (dogs) for their pet, and in return they will not pay for whatever vaccines their pets are due for.  Our doctors and medical team care far more about our patients receiving proper well care for the quality and health of the pet, and for the safety of the human family he/she lives with, than vaccine revenue.   Join us in providing a high standard of wellness care for your pet, turn away from the discount shot facilities and wagons, and we will give you free vaccines for the life of your pet.

Dr. Roger Welton is the President of Maybeck Animal Hospital and CEO/Chief Editor of the veterinary information and blog online community, Web-DVM. 

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