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Veterinary Practice News January 2010 Letters To The Editor


Buried in Debt


Veterinarians need something to help with our massive student loan debt. It is criminal once you find out just how unbalanced the pay scale is for new and not-so-new graduates relative to the mountains of debt. This is a recipe for financial disaster. (I am in this reality.)

The government and veterinary profession as a whole cannot expect new graduates to be successful if we do not have some sort of repayment program to help lessen this financial burden.

Most of us would be willing to sacrifice a few years or even more to help us with our enormous debt burden.

Carla Felty-Pilla, DVM
AniMall Pet Hospital
Middletown, N.Y.


Emphasize Nutrition

The article “Picking Right Therapeutic Diet Hard With So Many Choices” [November 2009] contained helpful information for small-animal practioners. I was pleased to see  pointed out that most claims of probiotics in dry diets are quite unfounded.

As a small-animal practitioner with over 50 years’ experience, I was nutritionally oriented from very early in my practice days. With me, it was always nutrition first, medicine next. My clients, once trained, loved the idea of good health and long life via diet for their beloved cats and dogs.

The one indispensible tool I used and strongly recommend to all others is to put your nutritional advice in writing. By doing so, the client leaves with a sheet of written instructions in hand. It eliminates “In one ear and out the other.”

Bud Stuart, DVM
Santa Barbara, Calif.

Click here to download the nutritional sheet Dr. Stuart gave to his clients.


Be Careful With Probiotics


It is important to question the claim made by Dr. Jean Hofve in the article “Getting a Boost From Supplements” [December 2009].

Dr. Hofve is characterized as stating that toxicity isn’t a concern with probiotics and then quoted as saying, “The worst that can happen is the animal won’t eat it.”

The assumption that there are no known harmful effects from the use of probiotics is overstated. The review article “Helping Patients Make Informed Choices About Probiotics: A Need For Research,” by Sharp, et al, and available on PubMed, explains some of the potential problems with probiotic use.

Though it concerns human use, it is likely that similar concerns exist for the use of probiotics in animals. By researching the references cited in this paper it is possible to find additional information on this subject.

Our profession has a long history of learning that risks from seemingly innocuous treatments are greater than we initially assumed. The choice to use any pharmaceutical product, supplement, vaccination, etc., has to be viewed within the context of risk. Even very small risks associated with a procedure are unnecessary to take if the procedure itself is not necessary.  

Using supplements without a valid rationale is as irresponsible as using vaccinations that aren’t necessary or using pharmaceuticals without justification.

Perhaps Dr. Hofve does balance the risk of probiotic use against the potential benefit on a patient-by-patient basis in practice. If so, this was not well portrayed by the comments.

Michael Richards, DVM
Mathews Veterinary Services
Cobbs Creek, Va.


Thank You, Dr. Pasco


Joel Pasco was an early inspiration to me in my career as a veterinarian  [“Dr. Joel Pasco Dies at 62,” December 2009].

I had always wanted to live in California and was interested in wildlife. I contacted Dr. Pasco and he let me sleep in the doctor’s office while I spent the summer helping out in his clinic. I was a second-year student at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

I will never forget that summer of 1989 and the kindness he showed me.

May you rest in peace, Dr. Pasco.

John Gagliardi, DVM
Cooper Square Veterinary Hospital
New York City

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