By Dr. Lauren Skillin, DVM Androscoggin Animal Hospital
I have been lucky enough to work in a field that I love for 5 years now, long enough to practice medicine prior to, and during, the pandemic. Veterinary medicine has always been a dynamic field filled with highlights and challenges, but these experiences have been amplified during the these last few years. As much as I would love to play with puppies and kittens all day, our jobs encompass much more to ensure that all pets stay healthy and comfortable.
DR. LAUREN SKILLIN
One of the largest positive changes that I have seen is the ability of many pet owners to work from home. In addition to improving their own work/life balance, people have more time to spend with their pets, and, are more aware of their furry friend’s habits. More people are increasingly aware of subtle changes in behavior, prompting them to act more quickly when their companion is sick or feeling under the weather. Preventative medicine is always our primary goal, and this trend has helped tremendously in bettering pets’ lives.
Pet ownership increased during the pandemic, and I especially love our role in the community and our ability to help our neighbors. Maine is a relatively rural state, and while some towns may be lucky enough to have one or two veterinary clinics, others have none. We meet and get to know most of our community members personally, plus those who come from farther away to seek care. Veterinary clinics in the Downeast are integral members of the public and are fortunate to be in a position to help their communities thrive.
PHOTO COURTESY OF ANDROSCOGGIN ANIMAL HOSPITAL
One of the hardest challenges to navigate in veterinary medicine today is the rising prices of supplies, medicine and services. During these uncertain economic times, we are watching inflation ballooning and are experiencing waves of supply shortages and backorders. These items are crucial for many patients and for everyday clinical practice. Unfortunately, price increases result in rising veterinary costs to pet owners, most of which is out of our control. Pet owners should know there are many financial aid programs available, and many clinics are happy to provide information regarding local sources of aid. The regional animal shelters also usually have their own financial aid programs, or know of programs in their area, that can help pets in need. Understanding what is available before it is needed will ultimately help pets and their owners in emergent or urgent situations.
The shortage of veterinarians and support staff that existed before the pandemic has only been amplified during the past few years. In the face of rising pet ownership across the country, many clinics are struggling to keep up with the demand. We are doing our best to help as many clients and pets as possible. We see you and we hear you, and we are all doing as much as humanly possible to serve and aid all the pets out there that need us. In return, we simply ask that you be kind to all of us, so together we can ensure that your companions live comfortably and as healthy as possible throughout their lives.