Have you noticed that it’s hard to get an appointment at the vet lately? Maybe you’ve even had an emergency for your pet and couldn’t find a local vet to see you. Have you wondered what exactly has been going on for the past few years?
A Perfect Storm
A perfect storm of events has resulted in what one news publication is calling “The Great Veterinary Shortage”. And while there absolutely is a shortage of veterinarians and veterinary staff, this is only a part of the crisis the profession is experiencing. An excellent YouTube review of the previously mentioned article, as well as other related topics, is here.
Currently, veterinary practices all around the world have less staff than necessary to handle the amount of patients they need to see. This includes emergency practices. I’ve personally seen several of our closest emergency practices actually have to close for periods of time, something previously unheard of.
Staffing a veterinary practice has always been difficult. However, certain changes have occurred during the pandemic. One is that demand for appointments has gone up, although a pet “boom” appears not to be the case. Another is that veterinarians and veterinary staff have been leaving the profession, not wanting to risk COVID or deal with pet owners stressed out by the pandemic. Multiple news services have reported on pet owners becoming angrier and more unruly toward staff (for example). I myself have seen clients that I’ve known for well over ten years, recently act in ways I never would have expected.
Will Things Change?
I’ve been involved with the profession long enough to see how supply lags demand, and eventually this will flip-flop, with an overabundance of veterinarians and staff. But this cycle can take many years to occur. That means there is no easy solution in the near future.
What Can You Do?
As a pet guardian, and client of a veterinary practice, other than being aware of the problem, what can you do about it?
Now more than ever is the time for you to recognize and own your role as caretaker for your pet. I’ve written previously about how you are responsible for your pet. The better you care for your pet, the less need you will have for veterinary care.
I provide additional articles (here is one, for example) on what you should be doing yourself on my blog, healthypetdoc.com. Much of your pet’s health is in your control.
Here are some highlights.
- Feed your pet a quality, species-appropriate diet.
- Feed according to body condition, and maintain ideal body condition. Do not use food to show your affection.
- Provide regular exercise for your pet.
- Take care of your pets teeth.
- Provide a safe, “baby proofed” environment for your pet.
- Establish care with a veterinarian if you don’t already have one.
- Each pet should visit the vet at least annually, even if you don’t notice any problems.
- When you see a problem with your pet, contact your vet before it becomes a crisis. Don’t watch and wait while it gets worse, or doesn’t get better. Many of my “emergency” visits are pets that have suffered for days, weeks or even longer.
Do Unto Others
Finally, my call to all other human beings is simple. Please do unto others as you would have them do unto you.