Veterinarian: “Would you like fries with that, sir?

Some veterinarians, pressured by the need to meet overheads and their substantial salary (which of course they deserve), either willingly or because they feel they have to, do the kind of selling in their clinics that is pretty much an exact replica of the person serving you at Macdonald’s when you order a burger.

You go to McDonald’s and order a burger. The sales assistant behind the counter is trained to up-sell to encourage you to buy something with your burger.

You go to your veterinary clinic and you ask for a checkup for your cat or dog. All you want is a checkup. Some veterinarians, pressured by the owner of the clinic, will sell you dental treatment for your dog or cash. In respect of cats and dogs and veterinary clinics, dental treatment for gum disease, is the equivalent of french fries in a McDonald’s.  Periodontal disease (gum disease) is perhaps the most common health problem amongst dogs and is certainly very highly ranked amongst cats.

In a veterinary clinic the equivalent of coleslaw in a McDonald’s restaurant is unnecessary vaccinations. When the recommendation is for three-yearly vaccinations the up-selling veterinary surgeon will sell you annual vaccinations. Not only does this make bread and butter income for the veterinary surgeon it may well harm your cat or dog.

Vaccinations and dental treatments are the bread-and-butter income of the veterinary practice and you cannot exclude from that list, declawing. The beauty of dental treatment for a dog or cat is that it requires a full anaesthetic, which pushes up the cost to a substantial level.

Once again, the customer is, of course, able to say, “No, I don’t want what you suggest for my cat”. But the veterinary surgeon relies upon his trusted standing in the community to almost guarantee that the customer will agree with him.

When you visit veterinary surgeons’ clinics you should remember that you are walking into a business environment. There are two criteria upon which a veterinarian will make a decision in respect of treatment: financial profit and the animal’s welfare. There is a fine balance between these two often competing and conflicting objectives for a veterinarian.

Please note: this video may well be removed on YouTube because I’m not sure that it should be on YouTube. If it is removed there will be a black screen and I apologise if that is the case.

The AVMA states, in defence of their veterinarians, that the client always has a choice to accept the veterinarian’s recommendations or not. With respect, that is a hopelessly inadequate response because they know very well that nearly every customer will not wish to go against their veterinarian’s recommendations particularly because they are emotionally concerned and attached to the companion animal and in an environment which puts them on the defensive and where they are almost certain to go along with what is suggested.

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Veterinarian: “Would you like fries with that, sir? — 10 Comments

  1. Recommendations my eye!!! More like propaganda!!! Its all about making an informed decision and how can you do that if you aren’t in possession of the facts?? Vets will never give the facts therefore clients will be making a terrible costly mistake; costly for their cats 🙁
    I still think that vets should be sued by their clients for malpractice for NOT giving them the facts!!

  2. This video was part of an article that went totally viral- The article basically accused vets here in the USA at least- that practitioners “add” unneccesary services to bring in the bucks.

    What I find irresponsible about this video, and the article in which is that they can easily give pet guardians the idea that what their vets are recommending are unneccesary treatments and procedures, when in fact they may be totally appropriate.

    I am sure there are unscrupulous practices as there are in human medicine- that are “in it for the money” and recommend services that are truly not needed- but in fairness to the ethical vets, like Marty Becker, they treat their patients based on what is needed.

    It is up to guardians, in my humble opinion, is when presented with costly procedures, getting a second opinion (not from a practitioner who is recommended by the vet in question) to ascertain if the work is truly needed.

    I have been blessed by only ethical vets throughout my lifetime with cats. I have consulted with so- called experts who highly recommended procedures for which I knew there were much less expensive and risky alternatives. In fact I will be writing about a recent experience that left me wanting to scream my head off in protest. After saying “no” repeatedly, they finally stopped bothering me.

    Just know that just because a vet is “certified” in their field, it doesn’t mean they are not money-hungry.

    Great article, Michael- very thought provoking.

  3. It’s almost a conflict of interest.

    For as long as animals are sick, vets make money. It’s designed to fail right from the start in the context of modern capitalism.

  4. Im happy to say the Veterian’s that is in my Home Town are wonderful. Its like a Vet Hospital so see different vets all the time, they are very friendly and approacable and Always say if we dont understand something to come back. Were very supportive with the passing of Cassy.

  5. The days of having blind faith in the professionals that we rely on needs to be over. That includes vets, doctors, insurance agents, and auto mechanics.
    We need to power up and use the words, “NO”, “Let me think about it”, “I’ll get back to you”…
    I am, automatically, on the defense with pressure sells. I never mind all options laid out to me; but, you will get nowhere with hardcore sells.
    After my mom died and my dad was going solo to his doctor appointments, he would call me about new treatments or meds he was going on. When I asked, “Why”, he would say he didn’t know or that the doc said he needed it. After about 3 of those episodes, I started going with him. Even though he was intelligent and educated, he was from the old school and had that blind faith.
    Only rabies vaccine is a requirement here for animals. Everything else is superfluous. I chose to have my ferals receive the one year vaccine instead of the three year because of the high risk of sarcoma. I didn’t make that decision without being informed. I did my homework and believed the vet when he said that he had to lay out that option for me ethically but couldn’t recommend.

    • Good comment,Dee. I believe that professional standards have dropped because the professions have become more competitive and with competitiveness comes greed and greed alters decision-making which in the case of veterinarians results in reduced quality of animal welfare.

  6. Yes this is quite right, go for one thing and they offer another, teeth cleaning, flea treatments, and has he been wormed madam? Our practice sells food, toys, cat and small dog carriers all at higher prices than pet shops, it feels like push, push, push when we visit, but they’re no worse than other practices because they seem to all be at it now.

    But of course the most heinous veterinary crimes of all are in the USA, the little added extra of declawing the kitten along with neutering and vaccinations, all in a bundle and so much cheaper what a good offer, too good to miss out on. Oh and some nice soft kitty litter for afterwards too and a pheromone diffuser to settle the poor sore cat down post op.

  7. Yes sadly nowadays many veterinarians are in it for the money they can make. We were actually told by someone who was leaving her job as receptionist that she was very happy to be doing so because she was sick of having to reach the weekly targets of sales of vet products set by the owner. Worse still the vets employed by this owner had targets to reach too, by pushing tests too quickly and by vaccinations!
    Vets can make a person feel like a bad caretaker for not agreeing! We need to question everything on behalf of our pets!
    Thousands of cats in the USA are declawed because their caretakers didn’t question what the surgery meant and that is the worst of all because those poor cats are crippled for life!

    • targets of sales

      It is the same for the legal profession. When I was a solicitor we constantly had discussions about how much money we had made for the partnership. Some solicitors pretty well made all the decisions upon how much money it would make for the firm. It is just the way of the world. Unfortunately, with respect to veterinarians there is a sentient being involved which makes what they do much more important.

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