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Treating your practice as a ‘family practice’ can benefit both you and your clients.
Andersen says promoting “whole-family” veterinary care is second nature, as cattlemen naturally desire the best care possible for their animals. Plus, it makes sense on the bottom line, too.
“It seems like anyone who has cows also has some house or barn cats, and a dog,” he says. “Our area is very agricultural, but being in a small town, it would be difficult to treat only cattle. My banker doesn’t care if the money comes from cows or dogs or cats.”
McClung says many of his large animal clients are particular about all things related to their operation, including the equipment, the buildings and the care of their animals, large and small.
“When they head into the fields, their equipment is waxed, and their barns and animals are immaculate,” he says. “And, if they have a pet, they take good care of the pet—as good of care as they do the livestock.”
For example, one local rancher brought his dog to McClung to discover a splenic tumor and four metastatic tumors on the liver. The dog was placed on immunotherapy and the spleen was removed.
“This rancher’s best buddy rode right beside him on the Gator, and that was his dog,” McClung says. “Now, more than two years later, the dog still rides right alongside him every day.”
On the other hand, some dairymen in McClung’s service have barn cats that aren’t as much “pets” as they are a value to the operation. And they’ve invested in immunotherapy for these cats to maintain their health and vitality.
“One local dairy’s cats had the ‘barn kitty’ viruses, and we put them on immunotherapy,” he says. “Now, they have 30 of the fattest, healthiest cats that hunt like crazy. And there are no vermin on that farm.”
Both experts say providing minor small animal services on the farm is routine. McClung says it just goes with the job.
“We will often do the physicals, vaccinations and heartworm checks for the farm dogs while there on a cattle call,” he says. “We only ask they give us a heads up, as it’s impossible to carry a whole pharmacy in the truck at all times.”
Andersen says it’s common to be asked to examine a family dog while making a cattle call.
“I often get asked to do vaccinations or look at a dog that’s limping,” he says. “If it takes more work, like a broken bone resulting from being hit by a car, they’re more than willing to bring the animal into the practice.”
Andersen says providing euthanasia at the family farm can bring great comfort to a family, as well.
“Some people prefer to have their animals put to sleep where they’ve lived, and I certainly don’t mind doing that,” Andersen says. “A lot of people have an emotional attachment to these animals and maybe have had their pets longer than their kids.”
McClung says with advancing technology he’s able to provide an even wider assortment of small animal services at his clinic.