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What should vets do about negative comments on their Facebook Pages?

Most vets realise the value of social media for marketing their services, but many have reservations about the possible downside of this type of direct engagement with the public. In particular, vets are often put off interactive online activity like Facebook because of their fear of negative comments by disgruntled pet owners. Is this a genuine concern, and if it does happen, how should vets deal with it?
I’ve just had my first experience of a “grumpy customer” on Facebook and I learned a few lessons during the exchange. I’d be interested to hear what other pet owners out there feel about the way I handled it. For the sake of confidentiality, I’ve changed some of the details.
It happened on a Sunday evening: an email notification arrived alerting me to a new posting on my Facebook page: “You refused to treat a sick kitten: shame on you!”. I responded immediately, by logging on to Facebook and telling the poster that I knew nothing about the situation: we are a four vet practice and it’s impossible for any one of us to know about all events happening in our clinic. The reply came back at once: “You turned a friend away because they had no money. It’s cruel to turn away a sick, dying animal”.
I responded again, explaining that our practice had a fair policy to all sick animals, prioritising their welfare, but that in order to respond properly to the comments, I would need to find out more about the specifics of the situation from the practice during office hours. I also said that it was inappropriate to discuss confidential issues in a public forum like Facebook, and I asked the person to send a private Facebook message if they wanted to discuss it further. The person responded by reposting the public allegation that it was cruel for me to turn away a sick kitten……….

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What NOT to feed your cat.

Clients often ask me what they should feed their cats. It sounds like a simple question, but the answer is far from straight forward. The biggest debate amongst veterinarians at the moment is whether or not a cat should be fed dry food or wet food, or both. Personally, I tend to lean towards wet food as it seems to be the more natural option for a lot of different reasons that I won’t go into in this article. But I don’t necessarily recommend that to all of my clients. My own cat, for example, loves almost any dry diet but seems to hate wet food, so this is clearly not a good option for her. Being fussy creatures by nature, in most cases, the best food for your cat is the one that they will eat. But this isn’t always the case. Read on to see some examples of what NOT to feed your cat…

“I feed my cat only the finest fillet steak! Costs me a fortune, so it must be good for her, right?”

Short and long answer to that one – absolutely not. It’s true that in the world of well-balanced, scientifically formulated complete pet foods, you generally get what you pay for. More expensive foods, on the whole, tend to be of better quality than cheaper ones. But that only applies to complete, well-balanced pet foods. Just because a human food is expensive (ie, humans really like it and therefore are willing to pay a high price for it), doesn’t mean it’s going to do your cat any good at all. Sure, a bit of steak here and there isn’t going to hurt them, but by feeding your cat exclusively the muscle meat of any animal, they will quickly become deficient in a wide range of vitamins and minerals. There is, for example, very little calcium in muscle meat, to name just one. Other expensive human foods can even be dangerous for cats, even in small volumes. So if you ever feel like splashing out on your cat’s diet, put back the caviar and foie gras and ask your vet for their recommendation instead.

“But sometimes all she’ll eat are her treats, so I just give her those!”

The problem with this one is that unless your cat is extremely ill and you’re happy to get them to eat anything at all, this simply isn’t true. Cats are absolute masters when it comes to training their owners at mealtimes. And they’re not stupid……….

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Who would win Olympic events between humans and animals?

The London Olympics have captured the full attention of the public and the mainstream media: there’s something compelling about watching humans pushing themselves to extraordinary athletic achievements. Yet in comparison to some animals, even exceptionally talented humans are slow and weak.
One of the UK’s top sports scientists happens to be a veterinary surgeon. Professor Craig Sharp qualified as a vet in 1956, starting out in mixed practice in Crieff. In his leisure, he was a serious athlete, at one time holding the record for the fastest run to the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa. He soon began to take a serious professional interest in the science of physical exercise. In 1971, he took up a lectureship in the (then) innovative Department of Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Birmingham, the start of an illustrious academic career. He’s been described as the founder of sports science in Great Britain, working closely with Olympic athletes and coaches.
In last week’s Veterinary Record, Professor Sharp published a detailed academic article comparing the athletic abilities of different animals with humans. His findings make even top athletes seem like puny weaklings compared with the power and speed of the animal world.
In sprint distance races, humans are left standing. A greyhound ran 100m in 5.8 seconds, compared to Usain Bolt’s best effort of 9.58 seconds. Over 200m, a cheetah has been timed at 6.9 seconds, a horse took only 9.98 seconds, and a greyhound ran it in 11.2 seconds. Meanwhile, Usain Bolt’s world record is 19.19 seconds. A horse has run 400m in just 19.2 seconds, and a greyhound has done it in 21.4 seconds. The fastest human takes over 43 seconds………..

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