Monday, November 17, 2008

Why Cats are going to the vet

I found this in an official Press Release from Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) in Brea, CA: “There’s no way around it: sometimes Fluffy gets stuffy and even cats can end up sick as a dog. Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), the nation’s oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, recently analyzed its medical claims received in 2007 to determine the top 10 most commonly claimed conditions for dogs and cats. For both canines and felines, the top 10 conditions accounted for about 25 percent of all medical claims received last year.”
I recently talked about the stats for dogs, here they are for our feline companions:
Each year VPI analyzes its claims to compile a list of the top ten reasons that cats were taken to the veterinarian. Not surprisingly, urinary tract infections hold the number one spot on the list. Chronic renal failure held the number 3 position while diabetes mellitus hit the list at number 5. Interestingly, digestive upset in the form of diarrhea moved up the list from the number 16 to number 4. Vomiting was in the prominent number 2 position and colitis/constipation were number 7. Just like for dogs, the increase in digestive issues were attributed to dietary issues in about 1/3 of the cases. This includes diet (wrong diet choice for the pet or a problem with the food), diet change and dietary indiscretion. VPI veterinarians recommend seeking your veterinarian's advice when choosing the food for your pet, choosing a diet specific for your pet's needs (yes you may need to feed 3 different foods to your 3 cats!) and maintaining a consistent diet. Also on the list were skin allergies at number 6, ear infections at number 8, respiratory infections at number 9 and hyperthyroidism at number 10.
While I like to find out that my opinion of “the pet food is to be blamed for many illnesses and diseases in our pets” is shared by others as well as stated above, I do have a problem with VPI’s recommendation to find the “right” diet for your pet at your vet. This is simply because I don’t believe he or her may always know the right answer either. After all, they are vets and not nutritionists. Dr. Wysong in one of his books (It’s 2.30 in the morning and I am not in a mood and don’t have the time right now to look up which one it was, but it’s true) once admitted that while he went to vet school, they only were taught a few hours about nutrition. As he said, it was definitely not enough for him to make comfortably recommendations for the “right” nutrition after he started practicing as a vet. He just followed what the older guys were dong and telling him. Bingo, I agree. I don’t blame the vets for not knowing enough about nutrition, let’s face it, that’s not their job in the first place. But I also believe they should not claim they are experts in the field. After all, while there may be exceptions, most of them are not. All they do is “selling” food off which they make a commission or gross profit. And when I look at those recommended foods as I have done so many times in this business, I have my serious doubts, as you all know by now. So, when it comes to pet food, what indeed differentiates them from me? As a matter of fact, since I do nothing else but working with pet food for a living, during these past years I may have learned more than they ever did. All I know as a fact is that I have plenty of customers being very happy with the recommendations I made for their pet’s food. I also know that many of them came to me because they were not happy with their vet’s recommendation. So therefore I am all for job sharing here: Let the vet handle the medical stuff and nutritionists or people like me handle the nutritional stuff. Hey and you know what? If we all work together it may benefit our companion animals. Now that would be really cool.
Here are a couple more noteworthy paragraphs of VPI’s press release (which by the way relates to 2007 claims):
“Some pet owners may be surprised by what’s not on the list,” said Dr. Carol McConnell, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. “Falling just short of the top 10 are the major injuries that often motivate pet owners to purchase pet insurance – broken bones, poisonings or trauma from car accidents or animal attacks.”
“Some of the top 10 conditions can be associated with age-related changes in a pet, such as osteoarthritis and renal failure. However, most of the top 10 conditions can occur at any age to any pet – purebred or mixed, those kept inside or outside. No matter what age or breed of pet, pet owners should familiarize themselves with their pets’ daily routine in order to identify abnormal behaviors that might indicate an illness. In addition, regular semiannual physical exams can help prevent and identify certain conditions before they become chronic and costly.”
“If left untreated, any of the top 10 conditions could result in serious health problems and cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to treat. In 2007, … For cats, the most expensive common condition was renal failure, with an average submitted claim fee of $279.”

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