Fancy Vets’ Offerings Go Far Beyond Health Care

Golden retriever puppy Orly stares attentively at the TV.
Does Orly need her own TV?

For pet owners, the healthcare options seem to be feast or famine, determined by where you live.

Missoula offers a large choice of vet clinics, including two emergency vets, and I have been fortunate to have excellent vet care, especially as I hear tales of long waits for even emergency services in other cities. But our clinics are still pretty basic. Modern imaging and other technology is available, yes, as is specialty care. But what I’ve seen, heard about, and now read about in other cities looks like fancier clinic surroundings than even Missoula’s human hospitals.

The Washington Post article linked above describes what are essentially luxury spas and resorts for pets which also offer state-of-the-art medical care.

Some of the changes described, such as the movement toward Fear Free veterinary care, are wonderful news for pets. The Fear Free initiative is a pet- (mainly dog- and cat-) focused movement to raise awareness of the ways that going to the vet or to training centers can be frightening or anxiety-inducing — and offering strategies and training for vet-clinic and training-center workers in ways to eliminate or alleviate stressors.

Other expansion areas fill needed gaps: Underwater treadmills and other rehab equipment is a boon to anyone whose dog has had a sports injury or other condition requiring, essentially, physical and occupational therapy. Cali’s therapeutic swimming was enormously helpful with her mobility and balance, for example.

The addition of five-star pet boarding resorts to many vet hospitals may well be a way to keep the dollars flowing in, and some of the offerings definitely seem more geared toward enticing the humans than pleasing the guests —flat-screen TVs in the doggy ‘bedrooms, for example — and some are simply over the top. Though I doubt that Orly would turn down a peanut-butter sundae at bedtime, I don’t think she needs that from her dog sitters.

If or when private doggy bedrooms with TVs get to Missoula, though, I am likely to give them a pass. For me, the bottom line is my dog’s comfort, and I prefer to have her stay home with a trustworthy sitter or spend time with someone she knows and loves. Either of those familiar options will be less stressful than even the most luxurious pet spa and resort.