What Do We Actually Mean By Less Is Healthier?

We will start by listing many of the ‘normal recommendations’ when it comes your pets health that modern marketing would encourage veterinarians to recommend. Keep in mind, individual veterinarians may or may not believe in the bona fides of these things. We are merely stating that in our opinion, we would probably not recommend these regimes or products because we do not believe they are in the best interest of your pets health.

Expensive monthly all-in-ones: Expensive all-in-one products are often marketed as taking care of  “multiple problems” and as such, you must use them once a month. We would ask, ‘what are each of these products protecting against, and how important is it that we do that’?. We would also ask, ‘is it possible that such products that kill everything may potentially be harmful to our pets if applied monthly and for life?’. See below for a breakdown of these treatments:

  • Intestinal worming every three months for life: Although it is important to worm pups regularly up to 6 months, adult pets gain a degree of immunity against intestinal worms and we rarely see problems unless pets haven’t been wormed for years. We believe that once, or maximum twice per year is all that is needed with quality worming tablets.
  • Monthly flea treatments: We only treat our pets for fleas when we are suspicious of them. Our belief is that it is much healthier (and far less costly) to only treat as required. Most pets in our area may get the odd flea once every 4-5 years. Only treat the occurrence of fleas as they appear, don’t worry about them otherwise!

You must do a dental to clean your pets teeth as soon as there is plaque build up!  We educate our clients how best to stay away from the dental table. From $350 upwards for dental work every 2-3 years, this is a must read for pet dental health! With the savings you gain from following our recommendations you can easily afford to insure your pet!

Pre-anaesthetic blood screens: Our belief is that these are commonly over stated in importance with young clinically healthy pets having an anesthesia. We are very happy to perform them if it is your preference however we will always recommend then when we firmly believe they are necessary. Some of us at SAH have personally had several anesthetics in life and not once have we been offered a pre-anaesthetic blood test!

Intravenous fluids during surgery as on optional extra: We actually do like this option and recommend it! However, it is often marketed as making your pets anesthesia ‘much safer’. Again, in young healthy patients we disagree with this because it makes an extremely safe anaesthetic perhaps a little safer – but more to the point, it allows for a smoother recovery for your pet. For this reason it is good to do but when costs are becoming concerning, it is not always a must!

Super premium commercial pet foods: We firmly believe the correct home cooking and table scraps (the correct ones should be explained to you by one of our veterinarians), are far healthier than all commercial foods (including the super premium brands). However if you are feeding commercial foods (which we do), we recommend the better quality ones. Just don’t be afraid to supplement this food with good quality table scraps and home cooking!

Annual blood checks for your pet: A little like pre-anaesthetic blood tests, if your pet is young, healthy and clinically normal after our examination, it is extremely unlikely that anything of significance will be picked up in an annual wellness profile (as they are commonly marketed to). As Dr Marcus Hayes advises, his doctor is yet to offer an annual wellness blood test and he’s approaching 50!

Blanket annual vaccinations for dogs: Traditionally, dogs have been blanket vaccinated for the five main diseases we vaccinate against for the last 30-40 years. To our knowledge, there was no testing or reason to do these annually from their inception. Approximately ten years ago two companies tested immunity for their vaccinations for the main three diseases: Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvovirus and found immunity had not even started to wane after three years. They then registered their vaccinations for three yearly use. We have been recommending these three yearly vaccines for many years now; the Melbourne University recommends them and these are now world standard practice. There is no advantage in blanket annual vaccinations and some vets, (ourselves included), believe over vaccinating may in fact result in harmful side effects and potentially some illnesses. Only vaccinate as required, do not blanket vaccinate unnecessarily!


SAH Recommends To Our Clients What We Do For Our Own Pets!

What do our vets do for our own pets, and what do we actually recommend for you and your pets? Although every pet is different, and we discuss at length your own unique circumstances when you come and seek our advice, the following is a good general starting point. It is basically what we do for or own pets:

  1. The most important point. Insure your pet! Yes, our vets and nurses insure our own pets! We can help you with this so please contact us.
  2. Only vaccinate as required. We use the three yearly regime on our dogs, nobody in our clinic blanket vaccinates. Our cats are a little different because there is no registered three yearly regime as yet. And further to the normal annual cat flu vaccine, outside cats should also be vaccinated against feline aids. However, we personally are not against vaccinating cats every 2-3 years for feline Flu, but only after an extensive discussion one on one, and we do not officially recommend this!
  3. Intestinal worms: We feel that twice yearly is more than enough, once a year for inside cats. Use quality though!
  4. Monthly all-in-ones : Our preference is to not use these!
  5. Fleas: We like Advantage monthly when required or Comfortis for stubborn cases. We do not recommend flea powders, washes or bombs! We do not treat routinely our own pets, only as required. For chronic allergy sufferers we do recommend regular treatment.
  6. Diet: We do use the better quality commercial foods (as they are convenient) but we include many of the correct left overs and raw bones 3 x weekly!
  7. Annual Health Checks: We highly recommend an annual health check whether you are vaccinating or not. These are most important.
  8. Annual blood checks: No. We think these are a waste of time in young healthy animals, but we are very happy to do them if that gives you comfort.
  9. Heartworm prevention: A rare disease, but lethal and still exists. Yes, we treat our dogs with the yearly Proheart Injection but we don’t recommend it once your pet is quite elderly. Not only is it quite rare in Melbourne these days, it takes 2-3 years to cause a problem! We would never recommend spending money on Heartworm prevention if you are not insured!


Expensive Monthly All-In-One Products: Why We Don’t Recommend Them

Marketing wise it is such an easy sell to say: “Put this on your pet monthly and it will take care of A, B and C!”.   As such, a myriad of monthly top-spots and tablets and applications have hit the market to “keep up your pets health” !

Why does one clinic recommend one type of monthly product and another clinic another type?  Here’s one of the things that really worries us. Often times it is because of drug company incentives! Many drug companies will offer incentives, (or money back) if clinics are using their particular product/s and especially if they hit sales targets!

The other incentive for veterinarians selling all-in-ones is that they are expensive. Given veterinarians have a percentage markup on all products, the more expensive product they can sell, the more profit they can make!

Southern Animal Health refuses to accept any drug company incentive to sell their products. We never give free first samples, have no deal with any company to exclusively use their product, and refuse to have incentive targets. Our belief is that these incentives should be banned.

Our clinic only recommends what we believe in, and what we feel is worthwhile for your pet. For example, lets talk about some of these all-in-ones that are applied monthly.  If you are using one of these products, rather than saying these take care of A,B and C, we would rather look at each of these things and ask: “Do we really need to treat A,B and C monthly?”.  Let’s start with the common things that these products do and go through each of them in turn:

Fleas: Most of these monthly products target fleas. Very marketable! Our opinion is the following: if your pet gets the odd flea every 4-5 years, we believe it is healthier to just treat at that time and not every single month regardless. The flea itself doesn’t really hurt your pet, but the month in, month out application of a toxic chemical just possibly may!

Heartworm: Heartworm is fatal if contracted, albeit a very rare disease in Melbourne these days. Hence we do still recommend monthly prevention or better still, the yearly injection. Go to our Heartworm section for a full explanation of the pro’s and con’s of preventative treatment for this disease. We prefer the yearly injection as monthly treatments in all-in-ones MUST NOT be missed and often cost 2-3 times the cost of the yearly injection! (This can equate to valuable savings that could have gone towards pet insurance!).

Intestinal Worms: Many all-in-ones do not actually treat all four types of intestinal worms! This will mean that you will need to use something else 1-2 times yearly anyway! (Make sure you understand this if you are using one of these products and check with your vet.) We only recommend treating 1-2 times yearly and firmly believe treating monthly is a waste of time and money.

Ear mites: They are extremely rare in adult pets, overstated, and needed not be routinely treated!


So, from the above, we are not believers in expensive monthly all-in-ones. Stop these, and use the savings to insure your pets. One day you will be extremely thankful that you did this!