5 Lessons This Vet Learned From Loving and Living With Purebred Dogs

3. Some purebred-related problems are less manageable than even veterinarians realize. Veterinarians are often just as frustrated as their clients when their patients don’t respond as they think they should to our recommended treatment regimens. Some of us (myself included, I’ll admit) even go so far as to assume our clients are being resistant to our recommendations and failing to adhere to their treatment regimens.

For example, until my foster Bulldog suffered a particularly intractable type of dry eye (keratoconjunctivitis sicca), I’d been prone to suppose that some of my difficult dry-eye patients were attached to less-than-compliant clients. Not necessarily true, I quickly realized.

Turns out that dry eye, among other especially frustrating conditions some purebreds suffer, needs more than just a simple schedule of medications. For example, numerous daily applications of eye lubricants are also required for some of these complex dry-eye customers (five times a day for my foster girl!).

4. Specialists can be a veterinarian’s BFF. As the above example clearly illustrates, we veterinarians don’t always know as much as we think we do. Living with genetically underprivileged purebreds sheds some especially unflattering light on this reality. Which is why I’m a big fan of keeping really close ties with my local (and even not-so-local) specialists.

Veterinary neurologists, surgeons, dermatologists, behaviorists, oncologists, internists, ophthalmologists and cardiologists are more responsive to my calls, emails and questions because of the close relationships I’ve fostered over the years. A friendship on Facebook goes a long way to getting any complex problems addressed quickly (including my clients’ issues, of course).

5. Pet insurance pays — even for veterinarians! You might assume a veterinarian wouldn't need pet insurance. After all, you’d think we’d get a financial break on our pets’ health care services. But you’d be wrong.

Not only are the above-mentioned specialists expensive (I don’t expect them to offer me their services for free!), the expenses associated with the tests and treatments my many purebreds have required over the years have been astronomical by most pet owners’ standards. CT scans, MRIs, spinal surgery and radiation therapy are incredibly costly!

And now that plenty of pet insurance companies cover genetic diseases purebreds are prone to, there’s no excuse for exposing any pets to what we veterinarians somewhat euphemistically refer to as “economic euthanasia.” Or what’s almost worse in some cases: having to let dogs live with uncomfortable conditions their owners can’t afford to treat.

All of which explains why more veterinarians are securing coverage for their own pets. Some of us will even go so far as to offer pet insurance as an employment benefit for our staff members.

To summarize: Feel confident in adoring your purebred pets, but whatever you do, don’t even think about keeping one unless you've done your homework about the potential health and behavior problems and you’re absolutely sure you can manage what might prove an inevitable breed-related problem.

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