I recently came across a verse in the Talmud (Megillah 13b) that teaches רפואה קודם למכה “the remedy before the affliction.” The excerpt refers to the notion that, despite the tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people over the course of history, there is a belief that mechanisms are in place to save from destruction. I got to thinking about the concept of remedy before affliction within the context of veterinary medicine. Medicine does not simply strive to cure disease; its practitioners constantly try to convince people to act in ways that thwart disease from establishing itself. People who exercise regularly, avoid drinking alcohol in excess, refrain from smoking, and engage in (or stay away from) a host of other activities are statistically less likely to succumb to diseases in the future. Of course, a healthy lifestyle does not make one immune to disease, but it stacks the chips in one’s favor.
The same principles exist for animals. Preventive medicine is of major importance! All people, especially those from lower income backgrounds, who may not be able to afford the high costs associated with some treatments, can do good for their pets by investing in their health. The best offense is a good defense. Though only in my second week of clinical rotations, I have interacted with many a client who passes the opportunity to pursue dental work for their pets because it is not pressing at the time of the appointment. It important that veterinary professionals do all they can to impress upon owners the usefulness of prophylactic procedures or healthy behavior at home so as to avoid pathology down the road. We at least have to show them the sign; it is their prerogative to follow it or not.