Just as in the field of human medicine, the onset of new technologies and treatments has created a revolution in care. We in the veterinary field must also face the dual challenge of keeping up with the latest information while meeting their clients' rising expectations.
While these challenges can threaten to overwhelm any animal medicine professional, the opportunities provided by the digital age allow for more successful outcomes than ever before.
Animal Dentistry Is More Common
As pet owners develop more concern about their animals’ overall quality of life, they have developed an increased willingness to spend more on non-vital procedures. These procedures include animal dentistry. Some veterinary offices have complete tooth decay prevention programs alongside more advanced reconstruction and removal procedures.
Improvements in Anesthesia
Until recently, our tried and true method of anesthetizing animals was an appropriate dose of pentobarbital. Advances in our understanding of animal pain, treatment, and therapy has led to new procedures and protocols, such as introducing sedatives to calm the patient prior to surgery. Patients may also receive intravenous catheters during anesthesia to deliver vital fluids.
Some offices even use gas-delivered anesthesia machines to ensure a more precise delivery of the proper drugs. A handful of offices now employ recovery nurses to tend to patients as they wake up from surgery, and their anesthesia wears off.
Pre-Surgery 3D Printing
The emergence of the 3D printer has transformed a number of fields, but many would show surprise at its effects on veterinary medicine and animal surgery. 3D printing takes pictures from CAT scans, ultrasounds, and other imaging devices, runs them through a computer, and then prints an accurate model of the bones, organs, or other structure. We veterinary surgeons, then, get an accurate depiction of the injury or deformity, giving us the opportunity to form a more accurate diagnosis.
Besides resulting in better precision in figuring out the problem, 3D printing and modeling helps us to reduce the time taken for animal surgery. It also reduces the number of times that a surgeon has to “go in blind” and try to diagnose the problem while inside the patient.
Using 3D printing and modeling has led to better outcomes for patients, veterinarians, and clients alike.
Just as in human medicine, veterinarians have gotten excited about the vast potential found in laser therapy. Already, NFL teams have invested in laser treatment devices to help players recover from surgery and injury. Animal medicine experts, too, are also exploring the potential for use in our field.
Low-level lasers, also known as “cold” lasers, have shown the ability to help animals tremendously after surgery. The lasers have reduced inflammation and pain, increased circulation in affected areas, improved mobility, and their use has resulted in fewer long-term issues in recovery. Laser technology can also help to assuage chronic conditions in animals as they get older, extending and enhancing quality of life.
Rising Costs for the Most Advanced Care
Advances in care do not come without cost. Diagnostic and treatment equipment can run upwards into the tens of thousands of dollars. Digital X-ray machines built for veterinary medicine can cost as much as $50,000.
Rising costs and advanced techniques can take our clinics into challenging situations, as some clients will hold rising expectations for care, yet express sticker shock at the price of the best treatment available. Going forward, patience with patients and their owners will be more necessary.
Overall, however, clients have shown an increased willingness to spend more on their pets, seeing them more as a member of the family than an owned animal. As clients spend more on their pets, this extra income should help to fund more purchases for equipment that these advancements possible.
For leading-edge care for your pet, come see our caring team here at Beech Lake Animal Hospital in Lexington, TN. Give us a call to learn what we offer today.