Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Arranging the Spring Vet Checks

It's that time of year, depending on your weather conditions, of course, to set up an appointment to have your horses' teeth floated and get some immunizations. I called for an appointment. My vet hospital puts on a weekend clinic at the Fairgrounds in which they perform all the maintenance services at a 15% discount. I have taken my horses there in the past when I only had two for my two-horse trailer and had some extra hands to help out. These clinics often require a lot of standing in line with your horse and waiting for your horse to come out of the sedative before loading it up into the trailer. Even with just two horses it was an all day event for us, and with my job I rarely have an entire day to spare.

Now that my son's track season is starting up, he will be having track meets every weekend, which my husband likes to volunteer to help out at. Between that and me having 3 horses with a two-horse trailer requiring two to three trips to the clinic, and having a sprained wrist thanks to pushing a wheelbarrow through snow and mud, I opted for a ranch visit this year. It's more money, but it makes my life easier.

In the past, they've come out on a Saturday, but they aren't doing that anymore. It's getting more and more difficult to find businesses and services around here that are open on the weekends, so I had to set up a mid-week appointment and will have to use half a day of vacation time to deal with it. The lady asked if I wanted Coggin's shots. I always say no, because in the past I have never trailered my horses out of the immediate vicinity nor boarded them off my property nor boarded anyone else's horses on my property. However, it suddenly hit me that all that trail riding I did last year did involve crossing into California, even though it was on hooves instead of in a trailer. The lady verified that I do need the Coggin's paperwork to cross the border on a trail ride, so I agreed to that.

I'll probably get some brand inspections done this year too, so that I can open myself up to trailering the horses into California for longer trail rides. I had bought a trail map of my area and there are very few horse trails around here. I have to drive into California for most of them. However, this cold, wet weather has to clear up before I'm going to commit to that. It's been raining and/or snowing every weekend since November, and the forecast is still showing snow on the upcoming weekends. In the past, it has rained and snowed all the way through to June.

Of course, they scheduled my ranch visit for a day when a big snowstorm is supposed to come through, so I suggested they push it back since I don't have an indoor barn with a wash rack or aisle or lighting. We agreed that if it snows on the second date we chose, I could just keep calling to reschedule until we finally get a day without snow. I suspect that my horse's hooves will be due for a trim on the same day as the vet appointment, which seems to always happen, so I'll probably have to take the whole day off from work. It's just too stressful running back and forth between holding the horses, answering the phone and doing work on my computer. I'd rather put 100% of my attention on the horses and cut out the office communications.

I have one question for you all. I have noticed that with each younger generation of vets, we as animal owners are asked to set up more and more maintenance appointments. For instance, for a grown, non-pregnant horse, I have always just given immunizations and teeth floats once a year in the spring. However, lately the younger vets have been insisting that I also set up an appointment for immunizations and teeth floats in the fall, while the older vets say it's not necessary.

With my dogs, the younger vets insist that I bring them in once a year for teeth cleanings, which is expensive because it requires putting them under sedation, and is something we've never done in all the years we've owned dogs. If the dog obviously needs dental work, we deal with it then. On the other hand, we as humans get our teeth professionally cleaned every six months, so why would our pets' teeth need any less care? However, even with all the dental care we get as humans, we still need fillings, crowns and root canals. What do you think? Are all these extra appointments and expenses necessary, or is this younger generation of vets just trying to take preventative care to the extreme?

Quite honestly, as is, my pets get better health care than I do. I can't tell you how many times I've sacrificed taking myself to the doctor when I've been sick or injured, because one of my dogs or horses got sick or injured at the same time. Or if I took care of both, the animals got treated swiftly and with a tremendous amount of care and concern while I was told that my illness or injury was nothing to worry about and then I was handed a bill for that apathetic advice.

If I so much as run into a vet while I'm working with or riding a horse that has a slightly runny nose or cracked hoof, I am chastised for not taking care of it right away. However, if I take myself into the doctor's office with symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, fever, coughing, sneezing, trouble breathing, headaches, back pain, chest pains, dizziness, and sometimes even immobility, the message I get is, "I can't believe you are wasting my time with these minor issues. Just go home and heal on your own."

And believe me, these symptoms have to persist for several weeks or months before I will see a doctor, so I am no pansy. I guess doctors aren't as concerned about human adults as they are about children and pets, because at least human adults can voice their health issues and return to the doctor if they don't resolve themselves.

Note that the horses are grazing on green grass... another sign of spring. Keep your chins up... or each of you - keep your chin up. I don't mean to suggest that anyone has a double chin.


fernvalley01 said...

Chuckling at the last bit! I doubt you have ever picked on anyone elses weight! I think the newer grads arte taking a more proactive approach to vet care whereas trhe old school docs are more "reactive " kind of treat it when it happens . My take is somewhere in the middle . maitian , good health/dental hoof care on an as needed basis ,not every horse needs a float every year , and some horse need hoof care to be steppedd up a notch where others ,seem to be fine for longer between trims , same as us we don't all fit a mold . BTW , your local physicians should be ashamed ! there are good doctors out there you just seem to have found the rotten ones.

Paint Girl said...

I only have my vet out in the spring for my horses annual shots and teeth floating. My vet has never mentioned needing more. I know that if you show your horses, you need to get shots more often, but for people like you and me, who ride at home and go trail riding, then annual shots are fine.
I have heard of vets that do seem to require more "maintenance" for small animals, but not for large animals. I only get shots for my dogs once a year, and sometimes not even that much. They don't go anywhere either. Personally I think there is a problem with over vaccination, and it is not necessary. But if my dogs were going to a boarding kennel then I would definitely make sure they were updated. I do make sure they get their rabies every 3 years.
Hopefully it won't snow on your vet day, so you can just get it over with.

Maery Rose said...

I only get shots in the spring for the horses since I have them living at home. When I've boarded, I've gotten more shots and got flu shots in both spring and fall. Since I don't know when I'll have to move and board, I suppose I'll have to do the whole bit this spring. I used to float their teeth once a year but one of the vets told me that mine only need it about every 2 years. Makes me feel like the other guys were fleecing me.

I've never had a young dogs teeth cleaned. Only an older dog when she was going to be under for something else anyway. I'm trying to brush my young dogs teeth now to do my own preventative care.

Breathe said...

Could it be supply and demand? Vets are a luxury (in a way) and therefore have to earn your business. Doctors are overwhelmed with patients and in rural areas you don't have many option. We've got 4 vet clinics and one people clinic in the same space.

I'm a one time a year girl myself, especially given the surprises that crop up periodically.

Once Upon an Equine said...

I hope you have good weather on vet day so you won't have to reschedule. In my area most of the vets (young to middle age) advise fall and spring shots.

I've become very wary of vets who try to talk me into extra services, especially extra vaccinations. I think they are more interested in the money than their patient. I've encountered this with small animal vets mostly. I'm surprised that a vet would recommend annual cleaning for a dog, especially a young dog.

A long time ago I had a doctor who always proclaimed "It's a virus. You'll just have to let it run its course". I thought if I went into his office with a broken leg he would tell me "It's a virus. You'll just have to let it run its course."

Anonymous said...

Years ago I took Jenny , age three to
the with a very bad cold and a wheezing
in her chest. He told me
to stop over- protecive, these things
worked them selfs out. I started the 30
mile trip back to the farm, and thought
if these was my horse she would have
gotten treatment. I went to the ER
and they admited her . She was there
four days.
Give me a vet any day !

Katharine Swan said...

I know that the rhino flu vaccine only lasts 6 months, which is part of the reason for the fall shots. Also, my vet gives the Eastern and Western encephalowhateveritscalled in the fall instead of the spring, because he says it's more likely to react with the West Nile.

I've also heard that older horses should have their teeth checked twice a year, particularly in the fall, so that they don't struggle with keeping weight on in the winter. That makes sense to me, but not so many years ago people assumed that old horses were just skinny, which may account for changing attitudes about preventative care.

And I'm right there with you... With the exception of my diabetes, I pay more attention to my animals' health than my own. Of course, their health care is less expensive, too, which helps. Wish MY doctor would visit my house for only a $35 call charge!

Lisa said...

I also feel there is more of a preventative attitude with the vets. Out of the 7 dogs over the last 40 or so years, nothing was ever done about teeth. Now one of mine has had his teeth cleaned under anesthetic-they should have taken the tooth out then as they told me they would-"needs" it out now at >$1500! Um, this is really hard for a single parent to come up with. Now I see why there is pet insurance now!

Anonymous said...

My vet doesn't make blanket recommendations for my horses. The stallions and ones that travel get more in the way of vax. Some things need boosters and others are annual. I check teeth myself and if there is any doubt, the vet checks them and does the needed work. SOme horses just need more floating and get it twice a year, some just need it once, some never need it or only every few years. We have two big days a year for dentals, and my vet hates it!

My doggie vet really pushes the preventative stuff, but a lot of it I let roll off my back.

And, yeah, your docs suck.

Cheryl Ann said...

I have an old, experienced vet for the horses and he only comes out once a year for shots, unless they colic and then he's really good about rushing over to tube them! Do you have sandy soils like we do? I hear 'ya about the weekends. It's supposed to rain here AGAIN this weekend! ACK!

Promise said...

I have Promise floated once a year, and split her annual shots into spring and fall appointments.

I do not like to call the vet for anything but routine appointments, but obviously in an emergency or with a somewhat severe injury, like the strained collateral ligament this fall, I knew that I needed a vet's advice. Luckily, she happened to injure herself the same week that the vet was coming out to do routine shots for her and several others.

He suggested a follow-up if I was still concerned, but I didn't deem it necessary to pay for him to come out and tell me she needed more stall rest after 2 weeks.

And then with the ulcer in January, the barn owner did a conference call with the vet to discuss symptoms and OTC solutions and had a tech that happened to be there for another horse look at her briefly and offer a prescription.

duffylou said...

I don't know if geographical location makes a difference in the shot schedule. I live in Ohio and have always given shots in Spring and Fall. I do not show the horse I own now, but he is turned out daily with 12 other geldings.

The vet I use has been practicing for over 30 years and I've used him of and on for twenty. Always vaccinating twice a year as with most other vets in my area.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Double chins...hehe! Good one!

IMO I think health/dental care should just depend upon the animal.

Just like humans. Some humans have more health issues and dental issues so have to bee seen more often.
I only get my teeth cleaned and checked at the dentist once every other year or so. I used to go every 6 months and then every year, and my dentist actually told me not to bother, that when I did get a cleaning, there was barely anything to clean. (I not only floss, but I use a pick to get into the back areas...I'm kind of neurotic about my teeth. lol!)
But my hubby needs and should go to the dentist every 6 months. He just doesn't bother with flossing and fastidious brushing.

Same with his health, he has blood clotting problems and is on medication for life, so he has to be seen every other month for blood work. I don't have those issues and can go several years without seeing a doctor.

I think it's the same way with horses, too.
Baby Doll's hooves grew very slowly and were hard as rocks. My farrier suggested that she only been seen every 7-9 weeks because she just didn't require the trims as often. And there are some horses with hoof growth issues and balance problems that need to be seen ever 5 weeks or so to be slightly trimmed to get their feet back to normal.

But I do agree. I think animals receive better care than we humans receive.

Maybe it's because they don't have double chins?


City girl turned Country Girl said...

We have 2 young Veterinarian sisters who own our local clinic and they don't even suggest teeth floating's every year...Only necessary when they don't work themselves out in natures way. I always give my horses their shots myself, so I wouldn't be able to say how the Vet feels about that!