The Evolving Veterinary Hospital in a Demanding World

Trying to Stay Relevant

The field of veterinary medicine never stands still. We are a profession that is continuously growing and changing to meet the needs of our patients. In the last twenty years or so, this growth seems to have exploded with new services and treatment options available for pet owners to choose from. Our practice is a prime example of a general small animal practice trying to stay relevant in a climate where owners are wanting the best of the best for their animals (yet at a reasonable price!).

From Products to Services

The current trend for a successful veterinary practice is to focus on services rather than products. When I first started in this field (many, many years ago), the veterinary hospital was a place of one stop shopping. It was a place to get vaccines, parasite control, medications and food. Now, owners have low cost vaccine clinics and online retail available at the tips of their fingertips. We all have had that conversation with an owner price shopping around for the flea product or heart worm preventative that their doctor recommended but at the lowest price. You can even get veterinary only medication filled at Walmart now. With this expanded change in availability of veterinary products for owners comes a shift in our focus as a hospital. What can we provide that our clients want and can’t get somewhere else? Continue…

Managing the Hyperthyroid Cat: From Diagnosis to Treatment Options

Hyperthyroid cat getting radioactive Iodine injectionInjection of radioactive iodine, I-131An Explosion of Thyroid Disease Since the 1970’s

Before the 1970’s hyperthyroidism was not a common condition seen in our feline pets. So what’s changed to cause such a dramatic increase in diagnosis? The answer is that we just don’t know. Some suspect that it may be related to the chemicals that we surround ourselves with every day such as the plastics that line the cat food cans or the flame retardant chemicals in our clothes, rugs, and mattresses. As researchers continue to study the possible causes of this endocrine disease, veterinarians and pet owners need to focus on how to diagnose and manage hyperthyroidism successfully.

What is Hyperthyroid Disease?

Hyperthyroidism is a common disease diagnosed in many of our older feline patients (average age at diagnosis is 13 years old). In these patients an excessive amount of the hormone thyroxine, also known as T4, is produced by overactive thyroid glands leading to a variety of symptoms which include:

  • weight loss
  • increased appetite
  • increased activity or restless behavior
  • “crabby” or aggressive behavior
  • increased heart rate
  • GI signs such as vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • increased urination

This excess of the hormone that regulates an animal’s metabolic rate is a result of abnormal growth of thyroid cells referred to as a thyroid adenoma. In most cases theses growths are benign and very responsive to treatment. In 1-2% of cases the abnormal growths are malignant and may involve different treatment options than will be discussed today. Continue…