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  Volume No. 16 Issue No. 7 July 2019  

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Dr. Jim Humphries

  Top things learned in more than 40 years of practice
  By Dr. Jim Humphries

   I canít believe Iíve been a veterinarian for more than four decades. I certainly donít feel like itís been that long. But back in August 1977, I walked across the stage and received the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree at Texas A&M University. Now, I have a whole career to look back on, and I've even been honored with an adjunct professorship so I can help a new generation of veterinarians.
   It has been a great experience. But I am not finished. I thought I would look back and find the very best nuggets of wisdom to give you from those 40 years of experience. Every one of these is something you should take to heart as they are not just quick thoughts; these are very serious issues that can help your petís health, your health (physical and emotional), your pocketbook and your own wisdom. Here is Part 1; in the next few months Iíll continue with Part 2 and Part 3.
   Insure your pets
   Without a doubt you should find a pet insurance company you trust, and enroll your little guys. Veterinary medicine has advanced so much it is amazing, but you can only take advantage of these incredible diagnostic and treatment advances if you can pay for them. Most of us cannot just come up with many thousands of dollars to try to save our dearly loved animals. By letting insurance step in and pay most of the bill, you can take advantage of a whole new world of treatment possibilities for your pets. Personally, Iíve received an amount in premiums that is far more than Iíll ever pay in monthly fees. To me it is a no-brainer.
   Mass medicine, avoid cost cutters, avoid the strange ones
   I would highly recommend you avoid three types of veterinary operations. One is the big-box corporate run clinic where decisions are made in a city thousands of miles from you. Iíve seen mostly high bills and bad medicine from these places. Now, some are well-run and the ďcorporationĒ only brings better operations, education and security. However, in choosing, use your common sense about who is really making the decisions and delivering the care.
   Avoid the cost cutters. We have several in our area. If a veterinary clinic promotes cheap medicine, it is because they are cutting corners everywhere (equipment, personnel, knowledge, drugs, facility and the list goes on). Would you like your surgeon to cut all the corners possible so you could save a little on your operation?
   Finally, I would say, stay away from the strange clinics and doctors who have decided that voodoo medicine and pressing on some strange Zen point will cure all that ails your dog with liver cancer. After doing this style of medicine for many years, these doctors begin to believe in the power of their herbs and pressure points; and now wonít even consider proven evidence-based medicine. You know, when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail! You might believe in this doctorís ability; yet, a week later your pet is dying because of an overwhelming infection or cancer; and it is too late to make the right decisions and seek good professional care. Your pet needs a smart proven evidence-based approach, not the hammer of unproven scary treatments that waste valuable time.
   How do you get good care?
   Ask for experienced opinions, use the power of search engines, definitely check the reviews, call and ask questions, and see how you are handled. If things donít sound right, donít make an appointment. There are many veterinary clinics from which to choose. Your sweet baby should be in the hands of experience and solid knowledge, or he or she can quickly be on the road to a disaster disguised as competent albeit alternative care.
   More wisdom will be available next month.

   Dr. Jim Humphries is a veterinarian in Colorado Springs and also serves as a visiting professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University. He lives in Falcon with his wife, horses and Great Danes.
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