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Dolittler’s top five pet-savvy predictions for the next ten years in veterinary medicine

Posted Dec 31 2009 10:00pm

It’s over. Another zero-defined, multi-year chunk has come and gone as of midnight last night. And I, for one, say “good riddance!” Out with the old, clean slates and all that. 

Somehow this kind of pithy thinking appeals after a decade rife with intense personal stress and could’ve-done-better decision making all around. All of which leads me to believe I’m in no position to make predictions. Yet that’s exactly what I’ve set out to do with this post. 

Below you’ll find me going out on a limb with my top ten predictions for the ten years to come. Because––make no mistake––veterinary medicine will continue to evolve at much the same frenetic pace it’s been keeping over the past twenty or so years. Here’s hoping we’ll find our pets even safer, happier and healthier the next time another zero rolls around. 

#1 Collecting “non-economic” damages for the loss of pets  

This one’s for all of you who’ve made it your life’s mission to come after us when we haven’t done right by your pets. In the next couple of years we’ll be seeing many more cases where courts will stand up for pet owners who have lost their pets to veterinary malfeasance. But they won’t just be finding in your favor. They’ll offer financial judgments that reflect your pet’s true family status––not just their book value.

#2 Veterinary student debt comes to a head

I know it doesn’t seem like much of an issue to most of you but think of it this way: Finding a great veterinarian gets much tougher should professional standards decline due to the steep price of a veterinary education. 

This upcoming decade I’m 100% positive we’ll be seeing more veterinary hand-wringing with respect to what it costs to become a veterinarian. But in the next few years I also believe we’ll be treated to a round of baby-step solutions to the problem. As it stands, debt relief for food animal docs seems destined to happen over the next year or two. 

#3 The return of the family farm

Got a back yard? Then consider yourself a potential family farmer. 

The family farm as we’ve known it for the last couple of centuries may be a thing of the past but consider that a decentralized approach to raising animals for food can still be had if my predictions prove true: More of you will be trying on a small flock for size. You might even be learning how to milk a goat in the near future. 

Even if only one in fifty of you dedicated animal people gives it a go it’ll represent a huge change in food animal utilization and a big shift in where veterinary medicine’s food animal vets need to go. 

#4 Pet health insurance goes mainstream

Veterinary industry watchers been saying this for the last two decades, so what makes me think this time’ll prove the charm? Call me an eternal optimist but I believe we’ll reach the tipping point in widespread pet insurance adoption when the rapidly expanding availability of options for veterinary care become increasingly expensive. 

It only takes one economically preventable pet death for many of my clients to recognize the need for pet insurance. And once policy acquisition becomes a talked-about issue within the average pet-owning crowd, I bet this product will take off like it should’ve more than a decade ago. 

#5 Greater specialization

Yeah, it’s that time again. Veterinary medicine is set for greater specialization, but this time it’s not about cardiology vs. surgery or a total increase in the number of specialists in your town (that trend is peaking, methinks). 

Limited licensure has been on the table for decades but this time around I’m fairly certain we’ll be seeing the first of our veterinarians to graduate with small animal- or food animal-only degrees. There’s only so much comparative anatomy, physiology and pathology that can make up for a lack in clinical skills upon graduation. With all the advancements in veterinary medicine’s respective fields, there’s just too much to cram into four years if pig vets need to learn the cat stuff and vice-versa. 

***

OK so those are mine. What’re yours? 

PS: Happy New Year!! 

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