I absolutely, positively adore the Veterinary Information Network. It is a subscription-based website open to veterinarians with a whole wealth of specialists, bulletin boards, news bits, and resources. I can check the dosing on a rarely-used medication, see the prognosis of a particular type of cancer, or ask my colleagues for an opinion on an odd case, all without leaving the treatment area.
In an office where I am by myself 99% of the time, it gives me real-time access to a group of like minded people who are an invaluable source of information, allowing me to be a better vet, and provide better care to my clients. I pay out of pocket for my membership, and consider it worth every penny.
This collective think tank has also brought to light some unusual and odd issues that have been going on in the animal and veterinary world, ones that I can’t imagine anyone would have figured out without this ability to come together and say, “Oh yeah. I saw that too. Maybe there is a connection.”
For example, most of you heard about the recent Blue Buffalo recalls. That was an odd one. The nature of the type of Vitamin D involved made it almost impossible to test for, and without a handful of determined veterinarians who came together on the site to compare notes and find the common factor- the food- it might never have been figured out.
Yesterday, the New York Times reported on the increasing incidence of veterinarians diagnosing pets with estrogen cream exposure. Again, the VIN news service performed an invaluable service in helping get the word out amongst the profession about something many of us- myself included- wouldn’t think to ask owners about during an exam.
This isn’t an inconsequential thing- a small little puppy, or maybe a small child- getting a whopping dose of transdermal hormones can have some significant effects that could lead to some invasive testing if not accurately determined to have an external cause. A female dog or cat that suddenly comes into estrus after a spay is assumed to have an ovarian remnant, which could lead to a tricky abdominal surgery that might not even be necessary.
Vets can and do still use our continuing education conferences as the main source of updated information about our practice, but it’s so wonderful to have this vast and continuously updated place to go to stay as cutting edge as possible.
And now I know to ask the owner of any unusual balding, cycling, or otherwise oddly endocrinologically inclined pet if they maybe, just maybe, have been partaking of some estrogen cream. Especially if they’re the type to carry their chihuahua around inside their cleavage.
So what do you think? Would knowing your vet was part of a huge message board of their colleagues make you more or less inclined to trust their judgment?