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The Future of Vet Care: What to Expect in 2015

| Published on January 14, 2015

2014 saw many innovations and strides forward in pet healthcare. More and more people signed up for pet insurance, proving that the average dog owner does see their four-legged housemate as family. Trupanion, a pet insurance company, saw claims in 2014 that included many innovative products and advanced healthcare—from mobility devices to alternative medicines and oncology.

Some of their top payouts (total) of 2014 in North America:

  • Over $50,000 on stem-cell therapies
  • Almost $20,000 on Apoquel, a new, advanced drug for allergies

What will we see in 2015?

Will we find a cure for canine cancer? We asked Dr. Denise Petryk, DVM, Trupanion’s Director of Veterinary Services, to answer our questions about the future of vet care.

What were the biggest advancements we saw in 2014 in vet care?

Veterinary medicine has advanced significantly in recent years and 2014 was no exception. Advanced veterinary medicine—including great specialty care, ER services, and advanced diagnostics— is now available in more parts of the country than ever before.

Many pet owners now have access to advanced mobility devices including 3-D printed custom prosthetics, regenerative medicine and laser therapy to help pets heal faster and with less pain, and a new therapies to help pets treat serious injuries and illnesses.

Major advancements in mobility were seen in 2014, including growing demand for dog "wheelchairs." Image source: @Handicapped pets via Flickr
Major advancements in mobility were seen in 2014, including growing demand for dog “wheelchairs.” Image source: @Handicapped pets via Flickr

Do you think these will continue to advance in 2015?

Absolutely. Just like with human medicine, veterinary medicine is constantly evolving and I’m sure we will see some great developments in 2015. We are constantly finding new ways to put existing therapies into practice and making progress in the way we can treat a number of conditions.

In terms of people caring for their dogs, what were some of the changes seen in 2015?

According to the American Pet Products Association, the U.S. is estimated to have spent $58 billion on pet industry expenditures in 2014. People are spending more and more on their pets every year, but many of those expenses go toward toys and accessories rather than veterinary medicine. The (disturbing) and growing trend is for pet owners to consult the internet instead of developing a relationship with a veterinarian they trust which is so important. The best advice comes from having a great relationship with a veterinarian that knows you, your pet, and your area.

What can dog owners expect to see in 2015 as far as new advancements in dog care?

Veterinary companies are constantly looking to develop better therapies and medicines to help treat our pets. Keep an eye out for any veterinary news and ask your veterinarian at your dog’s next checkup to see what new products or therapies can help your pet.

What about alternative medicine? Is it expected to grow in popularity, decline, or stay the same?

Alternative medicine will likely grow in popularity as it becomes more available in different parts of the country.

Alternative medicines such as acupuncture continue to grow in popularity. Image source: @MarkHillary via Flickr
Alternative medicines such as acupuncture continue to grow in popularity. Image source: @MarkHillary via Flickr

Is Pet Insurance expected to continue to grow? Will there be more ways for dog owners to help pay for vet bills in 2015?

Yes, pet insurance is expected to continue to grow as more pet owners look for ways to pay for top quality diagnostics and care. Medical insurance for your pet is the best way to be prepared for unexpected expenses.

Charities, credit loans, and crowdsource funding have been used to help cover costs in recent years but few can provide preparation for an unexpected expense like pet medical insurance can and some of these alternatives come with a high cost. Owning a pet is a huge responsibility, and a responsible pet owner needs to know that is it not uncommon to have a $3,000, $5,000, or $10,000 veterinary bill.

What about the discussion between vacations, titers, etc.? Do you think this will continue in 2015?

This discussion will continue until we have more answers as to exactly what a titer really means.  Titer results need to be very carefully assessed and you absolutely need to have a fantastic relationship with a veterinarian you trust who can explain to you the pros and cons of re-vaccination versus titer measurement. Your veterinarian can explain the risks versus the benefits based on your pet, you pet’s health history, and the risks in your neighborhood.

Here it is – will we see a cancer vaccine or cure in 2015?

If only we could predict. As I mentioned before, veterinary companies are constantly looking to develop better therapies and drugs to help our pets. Cancer is one condition that has seen significant progress when it comes to new therapies, and while we may not have a cure in 2015, I feel we will continue to make great strides toward a better understanding of cancer.

About the Author

Based in Wilsonville, Ore., animal lover Kristina N. Lotz is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA). She is the founder of A Fairytail House. In her spare time, she trains and competes in herding, agility, obedience, rally, and conformation with her Shetland Sheepdogs. She smartly married a Veterinary Technician, who helps keep the fur kids happy and healthy, and provides a quick resource for articles.

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