Veterinary Medicine: So Close, Yet So Far

With new advances and technology comes an old problem — how to pay for it all.

Advances in veterinary medicine have helped pets now more than ever. By: Captain Pancakes

What better reason to go to a warm climate than a veterinary conference? It’s a win-win: Get really educated and really tan.

I learned so much at the last one I attended and got up to speed on state-of-the-art medical advances in veterinary medicine. During the lectures, many of my patients back home came to mind. I wanted to hold a big seminar with my clients at home and talk about these new treatments and protocols.

Veterinarians must attend continuing education courses to fulfill license requirements every year. These conferences are always enlightening, relaxing and get me inspired and rejuvenated about my profession. We are not talking convention parties. This is like going back to veterinary school for a long weekend.

Veterinary Conference Topics

Specialists from all over the country lecture on hundreds of topics. The hardest thing for me? Which of the 18 lectures given every hour should I attend: Feline Hyperthyroidism or Canine Hypoadrenocorticism? Feather Disorders or Canine Separation Anxiety? Intubating Rabbits, Feline Stomatitis, Ocular Emergencies? So many choices…so little time.

At the most recent conference, I learned:

  • How to diagnose kidney disease earlier
  • How to keep my cancer patients in longer remissions
  • How to treat pseudomonas ears with in-dwelling medications
  • How to improve treatment of glaucoma
  • How to better diagnose hyperparathyroidism
  • And so much more…

I was also reminded that specialists in veterinary medicine have different opinions. They have different approaches to the same disease, and yet they are all right. How can that be?

The disease may be “the same,” but no patients are identical. That makes no disease “the same.” Every patient is unique, even if he or she suffers a common disease. This is where instinct comes in: listening to the client and assessing the individual patient. Cookie-cutter medicine just doesn’t cut it.

Insurance means a greater chance at a healthier, longer life. By: primejunta

Financial Considerations

As inspiring as the few days were, there was also a downside to the conference. Because of financial constraints, veterinarians often don’t do all that we can do for our patients, your pets. We learn so much, but we can’t use that knowledge to help. We take “no” for an answer. Why? Because of money.

  • Why do only a little blood work when our answer might lie in the tests we left out? Money.
  • Why leave out a blood pressure or an ultrasound when it’s important for the total picture? Money.
  • Why “wait a few weeks and see how it goes?” Money.

Good medicine costs money. It doesn’t have to be over-the-top crazy expensive in many instances, but doing the best thing for your pet means pushing the envelope — sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. Often, the outcome is so much better if we go the extra mile earlier.

Pet Insurance

Now for the silver lining. You know and I know that veterinary medicine is getting more expensive. But the pet insurance companies know that, too.

This means they are going to cover more and more of your bills and preventive care. If the standard of care for treating chronic kidney failure or liver disease or skin allergies has advanced, the good insurance companies know they have to cover that care.

This video explains what you need to know about choosing the best pet insurance:

In a recent survey, 74% of people with pet insurance went to the vet twice or more per year and spent twice as much on care because of reimbursement.

Not enough of my clients have pet insurance. I think not only that insurance is a good deal but also that it will help many of you sleep better at night.

Quality of Life

Every year, we learn how to keep pets healthier and more vibrant as they enjoy the twilight years. Many older pets suffer serious medical conditions that can be treated, but at a cost that shocks many people.

Say that treatment buys your aged pet 1–2 years of quality life, maybe more. That’s equivalent to 5–15 years in people. I know a heck of a lot of senior citizens who were very happy their physician caught and treated an illness at 75 so they lived to enjoy their 90th birthday. I want to do the same for our pets.

I’m so pumped that veterinary medicine has come so far in the past 25 years since I left vet school. My patients can get miraculous treatment. We just have to figure out a way to pay for those miracles.


This pet health content was written by a veterinarian, Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD. It was last reviewed Nov. 18, 2015.

Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD

View posts by Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD
Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD, is a small animal and exotics veterinarian who has split her time between a veterinary practice in Pelham, Massachusetts, and her studio in New York City. Dr. Lichtenberg is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine with 30 years of experience. Her special interests are soft tissue surgery and oncology.

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