I have been a practicing veterinarian since 1997, but have been in and around the profession since 1984. I am a general practitioner and see most pet species, from dogs and cats to parrots and snakes. In my job I do everything from routine vaccinations to complex surgeries and difficult medical cases. Becoming a vet takes hard work and dedication but can be very rewarding.
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It really depends on the insurance plan, and I'm not familiar with all of the ones out there. Currently pet insurance requires you to pay for the services yourself and then you get reimbursed for a percentage of qualified services, so you still have to have the money. It's a good idea to consider it and look over the details of the various plans. If you're just worried about catastrophic care (sudden illness or injury) you can self-insure by setting money aside in a separate savings account. I would recommend at least $500, but honestly $1000 would be best. Complicated surgeries can easily run $2000-3000. If you're very disciplined just set up a "pet fund" yourself and use it only for unexpected care. Regardless of which direction you go, please be prepared for emergencies. It's very common for pet owners to have do decline care because they can't pay for it, and the pet ends up suffering, taking longer to recover, or being euthanized.
It's actually not that different than when pediatricians work on infants or very young toddlers. We are trained to take detailed histories, piecing together a probable cause based on what has happened at home. For a trained doctor a thorough physical exam can give many clues as to what is going on. Sometimes what you don't find can be as important as what you do find and helps us narrow down the possibilities. If we can't figure out the problem based on the exam we have to start running diagnostic tests before coming to a conclusion. Yes, it would be easier if our patients could speak, but we spend much of our education learning to overcome such limitations.
Primates as pets are a VERY bad idea. They look cute but they are not pets. They can be very temperamental and aggressive and are far stronger than most people realize. Primates can also be destructive and are not domesticated to be comfortable with human environments. Additionally there are numerous diseases that humans can catch from primates, making them a significant health risk. You also won't find many vets who will work with them because of the need for specialized equipment and a lack of training that we get. Unless you have a licensed zoo or need a small monkey as a service animal, I don't think people should have them as pets.
I actually get this question frequently. Many people don't want to make that kind of decision themselves and ask if I think that they should euthanize. If the pet is very sick or injured to the point that quality of life will be poor without treatment, or there really isn't any possibility of treatment, I will bring it up as an option. Rarely will I come right out and say "you should euthanize" because this is a very personal decision and sometimes the client isn't ready to decide at that moment, but there have been times when I've been this direct because I feel the pet is really suffering. I believe that my job is to provide information and options and help the client come to the best decision for themselves and their pet. It's not my pet so I can't make the decision for them, but I can certainly guide them.
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Okay, I'm probably going to get in a little trouble here. Cat owners do tend to be a bit more "out there" than your average dog owner. That being said, statistically cat owners are less likely to bring their pets in than dog owners. It seems to me that more dog owners see their pets as family members than do cat owners. Taking all of that together I might give the slight edge to dog owners but it really comes down to the individual person.
Considering that I work with a lot of exotic pets that's a bit tough. In my first job we had a client with a private zoo, so I saw some primates as well as smaller cats like caracals and servals. In general practice the oddest one was an oscar (fish). The client brought him in a wheeled drink cooler filled with his water to have me look at a tumor growing from him. I've seen snakes, pet lizards, sugar gliders, hedgehogs, and just about anything you can buy in a pet store.
Actually, most vets tend to have small zoos at home, often filled with "problem" pets. We frequently end up with abandoned animals or ones with complicated medical problems. Personally I have two dogs, three cats, a rat, a bearded dragon, and a beta fish. We love animals enough that we can't imagine not having them around us.
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