Monday, October 29, 2012

Just Hand Over the Damn Drugs (Greedy Vets)

Right now, this is me. And no, I don't want drugs for myself (...yet). I just want vets to release their death grips on anything remotely useful. We'll get back to that in a second.

First I want to apologize for the lack of posts recently. I am busier than a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest these days. Most recently, I was away at a conference for a few days. I got home to find Mr. Strut lame. Not feeling any heat or seeing any significant swelling, I thought he'd pulled something. This morning though, he was three-legged lame, just able to hobble along.

Luckily, my farrier Stacey had been scheduled to come for a visit this morning anyway, and she diagnosed it as a nasty abscess. Whew. Not nice, but not deadly! Stacy was able pinpoint roughly where it was but wasn't able to dig it out without doing more damage than we felt comfortable doing. She told me it would burst soon and recommended a poultice with icthymmol, which I already had. She also recommended Tomorrow mastitis treatment for a bacterial infection in one of his frogs. I love the way my farrier isn't such a cheapskate that she never recommends expensive treatments, but is also very open to low-cost alternatives.

Anyway, I poulticed Mr. Strut's bad foot and ran to the nearest vet clinic to buy some mastitis treatment. Stacy had told me it was available at Fleet Farm (which it is) but the vet clinic was much, much closer. The clinic isn't my usual one, but they treat my mother's tiny dogs, and I'm sort of familiar with them. They do cows as well, so I was quite confident they'd have what I needed. And they did. But they wouldn't sell it to me.

At first I thought I'd asked for the wrong thing. "Hah hah whoops, no, I meant Tomorrow mastitis treatment," I said.

"No," said the portly vet/secretary. "We can't give it to you unless we've visited your farm."

"Uh. What? Uh. Okay? Okay. How about vet wrap?"

"Sure! I just need your name, address, phone number..."


Which brings me back around to today's rant: vets and why getting drugs from them is like pulling teeth. Nay, harder-- like trying to make a cat walk on a leash!

Okay, yeah, I get it-- the world is full of idiots who can't be trusted not to drive drunk, much less handle serious veterinary medications. But I am not asking for steroids or tranquilizers. I am asking for mastitis treatment. Do you know what "mastitis" is? It's medical speak for sore boob. Breast-feeding women and dairy cattle get it all the time. "Tomorrow" is a mild antibiotic for cases where there may be some actual infection in there. And, as mentioned before, you can get it off the shelf at Farm and Fleet for $26. Yet many vets won't sell it to you in their offices!

This is the kind of thing that makes people reluctant to call the vet. I know that veterinarians are generally hard-working, wonderful people. But it's hard to see this as anything but an extortion tactic: "Pay for a farm visit, then we'll hand over the drugs!" If you're not an experienced horse owner, or don't have a competent person helping you (like my farrier) you might never know that the stuff your vet is overcharging you for is commercially available. I'll never forget my first founder case, where the vet (not Lodi at that time) charged me $12 each for the foam pads he taped my horse's feet. It was only years later that I learned that those foam pads weren't medicated or special in any way; many people used foam board insulation instead. And then there are the countless stories of vets charging $12 for ultrasounding a pregnant cow, but $40 for a horse. It's the same equipment!!

Ultimately, this kind of thing backfires for everyone. Clients get reluctant to call the vet or ask to buy anything, which means the vets lose money and the animals suffer. Clients also become more inclined to try home remedies, which is really scary.

Dear vets: just hand over the damn drugs. I will even sign a piece of paper promising not to sue you for anything, ever ever ever. And please, someone tell me why I can't get freaking Bute, the Asprin of the horse world, without a prescription!!


  1. bute used to be used for people, it has alot of nasty long term effects in humans if taken. wikipedia says "Phenylbutazone, often referred to as bute,[1] is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) for the short-term treatment of pain and fever in animals. In the United States, it is no longer approved for human use, as it can cause severe side effects such as suppression of white blood cell production and aplastic anemia."

    1. Yes, it does have side effects, and not just for humans. Too much Bute in horses, especially younger and older horses, can eventually cause stomach ulcers, kidney problems, suppressed bone marrow, etc etc. But there isn't a drug that does NOT have potential side-effects. Heck, Asprin, for example: it can cause stomach ulcers, Reye's Syndrome, and in large doses, liver damage and death. But I still have access to it. Why not bute? Apparently you can buy it over-the-counter in Canada.

  2. My vet charges thirty-eight bucks for a tube of Terramycin eye ointment. I can get it online for eleven bucks.

    And don't even get me started on spay/neuter costs - I volunteer for a local small-animal rescue group. There is one - ONE - low cost spay/neuter clinic in the area, and it is booked months in advance. It charges forty bucks for a neuter and sixty for a spay. The local vets? Charge anywhere from two hundred to FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS for the same surgery - and no, they will not give discounts to rescue groups. And THAT'S why there's a pet overpopulation problem in this country.

    Stepping down off the soapbox now ...