Veterinarians Excel At Preventive Care

Have we veterinarians done such a poor job?

Little Simba came in to see us today. He’s four months old and has never seen a veterinarian before today.

Simba squints from the pain of entropion
Simba squints from the pain of entropion

He came in today only because he was sick with a cough.

Veterinarians have long set the standard for preventive care. We have been about prevention of disease since long before I began practicing thirty years ago.

Sadly, Americans see doctors as people who treat disease, and most of us don’t go see our physicians until we are sick.

Veterinarians, on the other hand, have always driven the bandwagon that broadcasts preventive examinations, preventive vaccinations, preventive stool tests and heartworm preventive.  Have we done such a poor job of letting the public know?

When I asked Simba’s mom why she had never taken Simba to the doctor before she said, “Well, he’s never been sick before. And my husband gives him the seven and one, or the eight and one, I don’t know which it is. He gets it at the feed store.”

I asked her to visit to understand why feed store “shots” were inadequate, and explained to her the importance of the physical examination.

“Have you noticed the painful condition with his eyes?” I asked.

“No, what’s wrong with his eyes?” Mom inquired.

Simba has a condition common to the Shar pei called entropion. The folds in his skin force the skin of the eyelids to roll the hairy side against the eyeball. Most people know how uncomfortable it is to have one eyelash in the eye. Imagine four months of life and all you’ve known is four hairy eyelids rubbing your eyeballs twenty four hours a day.

We hope to schedule Simba for preanesthesia laboratory testing next week to see if he is healthy enough to be anesthetized for a temporary tacking procedure for his eyes. Later, when he is finished growing we hope to perform a definitive surgical procedure to permanently fix the eyelid problem.

He’s not going to get any relief at the feed store.

See you Monday, Dr. Randolph.

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