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Veterinarians spend more time treating health problems than preventing them in the first place — just like our colleagues in human medicine do. But in both cases, catching health problems early or preventing them entirely is far easier on the patient and the pocketbook. For this reason, researchers and doctors in veterinary medicine and human medicine alike are working hard to shift their focus away from treating diseases and toward wellness care and prevention.
Accidents and illnesses happen, even to those people who work hard to prevent them. But too often as a doctor I find myself wishing I could have caught the cat with diabetes earlier, addressing his weight and his diet, or the dog whose skin is making her life miserable, a condition that may be significantly helped by more frequent bathing and cutting-edge flea control. Early intervention that prevents serious disease or illness is key to lifelong good health, in people and in pets.
But I also wonder: Why can’t we go even farther and start identifying the causes of significant health issues, such as cancer? I see this as the cutting edge in human medicine, and I am thrilled to see the research being done in this field of veterinary medicine, too. While the treatment of cancer is more promising than ever before — many pets with a cancer diagnosis live happy, full lives — the news is never welcome. Veterinarians would love to deliver that news far less often than we do.
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