Louise Pinet - Vet

Dr Louise PinetDr Pinet, pictured with her cat Pinceau, has lived on the Riviera for more than 20 yearsLouise Pinet is Canadian and equally at home in French or English. Must be Québécoise, you might assume. “Not at all,” she says firmly. “I’m a Nouveau-Brunswickoise and we’re very proud of our separate identity. We became part of the British Empire close on 250 years ago but still around 40% of us are bilingual and deeply attached to our francophone culture.” Dr Pinet grew up on a farm in an area where her father acted as an unofficial vet. “I decided very early on it was the job I wanted. It wasn’t easy to get trained in the Maritime Provinces so I qualified as a nurse and then moved to France, taking up my veterinary studies in Toulouse. After graduating I moved to the Riviera and I’m now just outside Monaco.”

I quoted two figures to Dr Pinet. First, 50 years ago there were 40 vets in the Alpes-Maritimes; now there are 180. “That’s because people now seem more concerned with their animals’ health than was once the case.” Second, of working vets in France 80% are now women. “That’s largely because there’s now much less heavy veterinary work available on farms – birthing calves and so on. Most of our time is spent dealing with small animals with a few vets choosing to specialise – like those who look after horses at the race course in Cagnes-sur-Mer.”

So what sort of canine patients does she see mainly? “Mostly smaller dogs. You need to be careful what breed you choose here. A big hairy Newfoundland wouldn’t be too happy in this climate.” How would she rate most of the dog owners she meets? “In most cases very highly. People are very alert to their animals’ health, occasionally rather too much so. Once the problems of puppyhood have been worked through, it should suffice to bring a dog in twice a year for a check-up. That’s of course, if there are no obvious problems.”

Leishmaniasis: good news

Such as? “Well, as you know leishmaniasis is a problem here and it’s a disease that can kill. Even when there’s apparent recovery a dog will be on permanent medication for the rest of its life. But there’s recently been some good news. There’s now a vaccine available that seems to be effective in well over 90% of cases. It can prevent the infection, but it can’t cure it once it’s been contracted.” And what about those prophylactic Scalibor collars? “They’re pretty effective against infections caused by ticks – such as Lyme disease – and also they discourage the sandfly mosquito which is the vector of leishmaniasis, though in that case vaccination is the way to go.”

In brief, finally, what’s the recipe for keeping a dog healthy? “Well, leaving aside accidents and sudden illness, it’s a matter of plenty of exercise, good hygiene, a sensible diet with a minimum of munching between meals and, of course, that regular check-up.”