vet puppyThis little contest was brought to our attention by our friend and Dogs Naturally contributor Rodney Habib of Planet Paws Essentials. It seems that Canadian veterinarians participated in a contest, sponsored by Hills Science Diet, vaccine and pharmaceutical manufacturer Schering-Plough and PetPlan Insurance.

Each Canadian province competed on an annual productivity per full time vet and the number of clients and number of client visits were measured to find the winners.

Disturbingly, there was a prize for the greatest number of surgeries. In what world does it make sense that vets should be rewarded for performing the greatest number of surgeries on dogs?

The title of “Busiest Province in Canada” went to Alberta. Again, it seems a little twisted that the greatest number of sick and injured dogs deserves a reward of some sort.

According to the Canadian Veterinary Journal,

This is where Alberta, with its oil-fueled population explosion, leads the pack. Alberta has the greatest number of appointments per DVM and the 2nd greatest number of active clients. Alberta also has the greatest number of dental procedures per year per veterinarian. This can’t be blamed on the oil; it is clearly the result of the promotion of dentistry. The Alberta Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is the only veterinary association in Canada that I know of that promotes pet dental health on its homepage. I think this is working.


The takeaway point is that promotion works – advertising sways our perceptions – and this fact isn’t lost on the sponsors of this contest.

Hill’s Science Diet sponsors a lot of veterinary events and publications. Just look at the AAHA Nutritional Assessment Guidelines for Dogs and Cats. Right on the front cover is a Hill’s logo.

You might be aware of the AAHA Canine Vaccination Guidelines. These are the ones that say vets should vaccinate for the core vaccines every three years or more, despite the fact that research has shown these vaccines to last for at least 7 to 15 years. These guidelines are kindly sponsored by vaccine manufacturers Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc., Merck Animal Health, Merial, and Pfizer Animal Health.

This contest summarizes all that is inherently wrong in conventional medicine. Shouldn’t vets be working hard to see their clients LESS often? The problem is that vets – and their sponsors – don’t make money when seeing their pets less often. This is the limitation of conventional medicine – it can only be used on the sick and ill.

Isn’t it ironic that the rewards for this contest are coming from the very companies that profit from sick dogs and the special diets and drugs needed to make them “better”? And if better health is measured by the number of times our dogs see the vet or the number of surgeries they require, then veterinary medicine is broken and twisted and clearly isn’t concerned with the well being of our companion animals.

What are your thoughts? Has conventional veterinary medicine lost its way?