A better world for pets starts with the wellbeing of their vets
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A Better World for Pets starts with the wellbeing of their vets

At Mars Petcare, the world we want tomorrow is A BETTER WORLD FOR PETS™, because we believe pets make the world a better place. And as any pet owner knows, a great veterinary team makes pet ownership even more rewarding. Today, we reach 400 million pets around the world — many of them through our veterinary Associates. Vincent Howell, our VP of People & Organization for Mars Veterinary Health North America, talks about the benefits — and challenges — of being in the veterinary profession, and what we can all do to make the world a better place for pets — and the people who care for them!

Being in the veterinary profession sounds like a dream job for pet lovers — what are some of the advantages?

Caring for animals is a meaningful way to spend your day, particularly if you’re passionate about pets. Helping animals, whether through clinical practice or other areas — like research or field leadership — can be life-changing work. Veterinary professionals are also in high demand, which creates endless opportunities to chart your own course in your career.

SVP of People & Organization for Mars Veterinary Health Vincent Howell and his two dogs

How has COVID-19 impacted the industry?

The pandemic highlighted that pets provide much-needed companionship and comfort during stressful times. It also reminded us how critical it is to deliver on our Purpose: A BETTER WORLD FOR PETS™. Pet ownership increased significantly during the pandemic, and the need for quality veterinary care — and for veterinarians — increased, too.

What’s causing the shortage of veterinary professionals in the U.S.?

There are several factors: First, there’s a relatively small number of veterinary schools. Second, tuition is steep — the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) estimates the average debt of veterinary graduates hovers around $150,000, and can get as high as $400,000. And third, while being a veterinary professional is incredibly rewarding, it can also be stressful, which can take a toll on mental health.

Why is mental health such an important topic in the veterinary field?

For veterinary professionals, caring for pets is more than a job — it’s a calling. But it comes with unique challenges, including intense, emotional situations involving beloved companions. Facing these situations daily can take a significant toll on mental health. In fact, according to the CDC, one in 10 veterinarians suffer from severe psychological distress and one in six consider suicide. As a profession, we need to encourage discussions around mental health.

What is Mars Veterinary Health doing to help?

At Mars, we recognize that to make A Better World for Pets, we must first create a better world for the people who care for them. That’s why we offer resources including Associate Assistance Programs, “ASK” suicide-prevention training, and MVH4You.com, a site with tools to help veterinary professionals prioritize their health and wellbeing.

How can communities support their veterinary professionals?

By partnering with them in caring for our pets, and by remembering veterinary professionals are human — and have demanding, emotionally charged jobs. Educating ourselves on responsible pet ownership helps too: Prioritizing preventive care and budgeting for their life-long needs. The Wildest is a great Mars Petcare resource for new pet owners and anyone considering pet adoption!