Are dogs and children completely different things?
Some would say so.
My wife, for example, hates it when I compare child rearing to dog training.
That said, a mutual friend happens to be a child psychologist and he agrees with me; it's all about positive rewards, the consistency of simple messages, and fair and proportionate negative consequences.
Or, to put it in dog training terms, it's about operant conditioning.
That said, dogs and children are different, and not just because a smaller-sized choke chain is generally required for the dog.
Another factor is that dogs are basically visual animals who absorb almost all information through visual cues and scent.
Humans, however, are mostly auditory animals who absorb most complex ideas through the spoken word and its visual analog, writing.
This is not to say that sound plays no part in a dog's life, or that visuals are not important to a human.
It is to say, however, that dogs and humans have very different information-gathering systems that are tuned to very different frequencies.
Knowing this is important.
When we get to health care, of course, dogs and humans also share certain aspects, but are radically different in others.
For example, there are some dog diseases that humans cannot get, and vice-versa, and there are some problems that are more common in humans than in dogs, and vice-versa.
Finally, of course, there are some diseases that are easier or harder for a dog to get than a human, and vice-versa, and some diseases that present differently in a dog than a human, and vice-versa.
As a dog owner, it's important to understand what is the same and what is different between humans and dogs, but you will not get a lot of help from veterinarians in this quest.
You see, a lot of veterinarians like to artificially blur real differences between humans and dogs, and these same vets also tend to fabricate distinctions between dogs and humans that do not really exist.
And guess why?
Simple answer: For the money!
It's not that vets are ignorant. Quite the opposite. The vets know the truth, but they fence off the truth because perpetrating confusion and lies is where the money is.
Let's take teeth cleaning. Are human and dogs the same?
Think about it for a minute. What's the main dental difference between a human and a dog?
That's right! The human can be expected to live 80 years with adult teeth, while the dog will generally be dead after 12 or 13 years. That's a big difference!
But there's more.
You see, human teeth cleaning can be done with the human wide awake and sitting up in a chair, while canine dentistry generally has to be done with the dog completely knocked out under general anesthesia.
That's a big difference!
And the reason that's a big difference is that anesthesia is not safe for humans or dogs. In fact, complete general anesthesia is so unsafe that today when a human heart stent is put in, the patient is almost never put completely under. Ditto for laser eye surgery, most small tumor removals, and carpal tunnel surgery, to name just a few examples.
Yet, with dogs, a lot of vets are pushing for annual teeth cleaning in which the dog is put completely under, and the work itself is generally performed by the least experienced person in the veterinary practice (often a vet tech).
And here's the most outrageous part: almost all of this canine dentistry and teeth cleaning is completely medically unnecessary.
Canine teeth cleaning is a "problem" and practice invented about 15 years ago for the sole purpose of billing folks.
And the scam depends entirely on folks confusing human health care and canine health care (ignore the lifespan of the patient!) while ignoring the real financial costs and real medical dangers of the process itself.
Of course, the blurring of differences between dogs and people is not just relegated to canine dentistry, is it?
This morning, I came into work and a young associate was at the coffee pot. Deciding to have a little fun, I explained that his mother and I had been talking and that she had asked me to have a "little talk" with him about sex. Straight-faced I explained that "we realized he was at the time in his life when we was experimenting with young women," and so "just to be safe," we wanted him to be dosed with penicillin every month "because some girls are not clean." Oh, and another thing: since he spent a lot of time in the park, did a lot of gardening, and because he occasionally ate at slightly dodgy restaurants, we also wanted him to get wormed every month.
Of course, he burst out laughing.
And yet, isn't this exactly what we hear from veterinarians who counsel every client that their dog should be on year-round poisons so they can avoid heartworm in the warm months and roundworms the rest of the time?
More on worms and worming in a later post, but suffice it to say that in most of the U.S. heartworm is a seasonal problem that does not require year round "prevention," while roundworm is very uncommon in an adult dog, and dosing your dog on monthly basis is not needed unless you are feeding it the flesh of raw wild animals.
Vaccines are another area where veterinarians like to confuse things.
Those of you who have children know that after that first year of measles-mumps-and-rubella vaccines, you are pretty much done with vaccines.
So why are dogs different?
In truth, they are not. The first round of shots done in that first year of a dog's life are generally good for the life of the dog.
Distemper is not a worry in an adult dog that has its complete first-year round of shots. Neither is corona. Neither is parvo. Kennel cough? Forget it, unless you are boarding the dog and it is required, and even then it is probably useless if they are giving the vaccine the day you are dropping off the dog (it needs 72 hours before it kicks in and gives the dog immunity).
Again, more on this in a later post, but if your veterinarian is pushing disptemper, parvo, corona and other shots for your adult dog, he or she is ripping you off and billing you for medically unnecessary services.
G0 ahead and get a rabies shot every three years (it is required in all states), but don't go to the vet for that shot (he or she will mark it up well over 1,000 percent and add an office visit cost to boot) when the local animal shelter will generally give it for a fractional cost. And be advised that a three-year rabies shot is actually good for seven years or longer!
To be clear, I am not trying to indict all vets.
What I am saying is that folks can save a LOT of money if they simply realize that veterinarians are rarely telling them all the truth, or even half the truth, about their most common billing practices.
While not all vets are ripping off their customers, MOST ARE, and they are ripping them off routinely by billing them for medically unnecessary services, and price-gouging on much of the rest.
The good news is that an informed customers can "just say no" to a lot of things without compromising on their pet's health in the slightest. Other simple money-saving steps and tricks can save folks thousands of dollars per dog over the life a dog.
More on all that later.
For now, it's enough to make this simple point: Dogs and humans are both the same and different, depending on what we are talking about. Yet getting a clear picture on what is the same, and what is different, is not always easy because there is a lot of money to be made by creating and maintaining confusion.
Veterinarians are NOT a disinterested party when it comes to creating and maintaining this confusion. In fact, most veterinary practices have very little else to offer their typical canine customer except medically unnecessary procedures and over-priced medicines that can be gotten for a fraction of the cost elsewhere.