Banfield Buyer: Beware

Pet wellness plan. Does that sound appealing? Someone, usually a corporate someone, telling you the best way to raise your pet. You hand your pet over to Dr. WhiteCoat to make the decisions for you. Sound good?

Apparently, enough people think so to allow Banfield, the corporate giant of veterinary “healthcare,” to operate well over 1000 franchise clinics. (You’ve likely seen a Banfield hospital if you’ve set foot in a Petsmart. They often share space under the same roof).

Big outfit. Owned by the even bigger giant Mars Inc. Is that a sign of better quality care for your animal? Or something quite different?

Who You Gonna Call?

You might entrust your animal’s health care to someone who was as keen on enhancing her vitality and long life as you are. Does that someone exist?


Does he work for Banfield? If you think he might, it’d be wise to compare what you’ve learned about prevention to Banfield’s views on the subject.

The name of the Banfield game is to sell you a package care plan, where you pay monthly for as many free exams, tests, procedures, etc. as you want in a year. It sounds good: "The Optimal Wellness Plan."

The Plan

What does Banfield think should be included in that plan?

Here’s a clip from their corporate website, outlining three levels of the managed care plan that Banfield offers (click the image to enlarge it):

As you can see at a glance, twice a year vet visits are part of each plan. And did you notice that vaccinations are part of those visits?

Odds are high that if you sign up for any plan Banfield offers, your pet is going to get vaccinated with multiple vaccinations more than once a year.

Wow. It appears that Banfield has missed the memo on limiting vaccines that the rest of the veterinary experts have been recommending for 20 years or more (AVMA, AAFP, AAHA, etc.).

Or perhaps they haven’t been privy to the research showing a long duration of immunity from viral vaccines. This has been known for at least 50 years. It’s the reason your physician isn’t sending you reminders yearly to come in for more vaccinations.

Here’s Banfield’s take on it:

Gee Dear, it's time for our annual boosters. "Knock it off, Henry, you're 59 years old!"

Gee Dear, it's time for our annual boosters.
"Knock it off, Henry, you're 59 years old!"

Are they living in an alternate universe? Drinking a different Kool Aid than the rest of us?

It appears they also missed the interference that this long lasting immunity causes in the animal who was vaccinated earlier. In short, the next vaccines fail to stimulate further immunity in an animal who’s already immune.

You know this better than Banfield, it appears. You’ve read about the efficacy (“Does this work?”) of vaccination here and elsewhere over the years.

Did they also miss the safety concerns that have been so widely talked about regarding vaccinations?  That’s likely important to you, for the health of your dog, cat, or horse, while efficacy is important to your wallet.

Planned Wealth vs. Planned Health

When someone with shareholders tells you they want to sell you a plan, it makes sense to ask yourself,

  • “Is this plan in my animals’ best interest?”
  • “Or might there be another motive?”

I submit that this is a critical place to insert caveat emptor. Buyer beware.

As we saw with the conventional vet association's stand on raw food, there’s a conflict of interest at work here. (Anyone want to bet Banfield recommends against raw food? Or that they sell only kibble full of starch and byproducts?)

Critical Thinking: Required for Health

In the end, I’d submit that there’s only one person who can be trusted to chart a course of prevention for your best animal pals. The ones you want to be vital animals, who stay with you for long, joyful years.

You know who I’m talking about. While I can help in your endeavor, as can many, many others, that one person is, ultimately, only

You are smart. You can do this.

You are smart. You can do this.


It’s not in Banfield’s best interests to follow research showing long duration of immunity. Nor is it in their interest to look deeply at the illness that can show up a month after a vaccination.

No, Banfield, owned by the larger giant, Mars (makers of Snickers, M&M's, Whiskas, and Pedigree) has stock holder’s interests in mind, primarily.

Their corporate speak says, “Your animal’s health comes first!” but in the end, they’d have stopped the crazy vaccine practices years ago if that were true.

Banfield Buyer: Beware.

Have you had any experience with the Banfield/Mars business model? Let us know in the comments.

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  1. Sioux on January 27, 2021 at 8:42 pm

    This is in reply to the info on Banfield. I had a wellness plan. For the most part it worked out ok but I hated the upselling they seem to be required to do. The icing on the cake and reason I will never get another wellness plan is that my dog died and when I called to notify them and stop the plan … they wanted me to pay it off. I told them … well never mind, it wasn’t nice. I figure that is like paying health insurance on a dead person. No one would do it and it’s ridiculous to be expected to pay the balance on something that I can’t use on another animal or use at all. STUPID that Banfield even has this in their agreements.

  2. Banfield someone on September 22, 2016 at 11:22 am

    If your pet is an adult it doesn’t necessarily get vaccines 2x. As an adult that is up to date on vaccines rabies and distemper last 3 years. For those adults that have never had vaccines such as a rescue pet off the streets, they provide a booster in their packages for cases like these. You should really know the facts before you lie. Post this comment!

    • Will Falconer, DVM on September 22, 2016 at 11:55 am

      Banfield someone (great name, btw), you say,
      “As an adult that is up to date on vaccines rabies and distemper last 3 years.”
      What exactly does that mean? Surely the vets at Banfield know immunity lasts longer than 3 years to a viral vaccine, right? And that the science behind revaccinating triennially is exactly this much: Zilch, Nada, Zero?

  3. Erin on July 14, 2015 at 10:32 am

    It would appear that you are insanely uneducated on Banfield and their policies. We don’t have “well over 1000 locations” now, let alone 2 years ago. Banfield follows the AVMA guidelines as far as vaccinations go. Therefore, essentially your entire argument is a sham.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on July 14, 2015 at 11:55 am

      Hey Erin,
      So, educate me: how many Banfields are there in actual fact?
      And, probably more importantly, where in the AVMA guidelines does it say twice yearly vaccines are recommended?
      I’m all ears.

  4. Will Falconer, DVM on April 11, 2013 at 5:06 am

    Hi Erica,
    I feel both your enthusiasm and your disappointment. Here’s what I’ve learned that may help: you need to put yourself out there (probably on a wider scale, more on that in a minute) but not be attached to the results.
    In other words, your tribe may not be every Doodle owner, as much as you love the breed and have seen amazing success with them. Your audience are those who have a true interest in finding an alternative path, and someone who’d been down it before them. That’s you, Sweetie.
    So, two words to wrap this up and plunge into my early am writing fest: Word Press. You need a blog on the platform that gets you in front of the right eyeballs. You can start free: Write good stuff, connect with other bloggers, ramp up discussions, it’ll grow. And then one day, you may find you’re ready to host your own platform, which is still cheap, like $6/mo now for hosting.
    But I commend you on your steps. Great work! And thanks for spreading the word.

  5. Erica Christopher on April 11, 2013 at 1:18 am

    Hi Dr F,
    I started a FB group of about 20 owners of Fozzie and Gonzo’s siblings about a year ago. We are all crazy about our dogs and doodles in general. Although it started as a way for me to help new owners with typical puppy issues and a way to show off my countless photos to others who would enjoy them as much as me and not bombard my personal FB page with dog pics (although I still do), I now use it mostly as a platform to expose others to unconventional ways to raise a “vital” dog. I link to your site, dogs naturally, whole dog journal, and Dr. Becker’s articles among others. I’ll read something and get so excited to post it and share my newfound knowledge. Guess what happens? Radio Silence. Guess what I continue to do? Post away. I feel like i have discovered something so great (with your guidance) that I just can’t help but to share it with the world. At times it’s exhausting. But at other times i can make a difference. I saved one dog from a round of antibiotics by suggesting a fast and adding pumpkin to firm up stools. Another young owner was devastated when her pup got papilloma virus. When the wart was slow to go away, i suggested the remedy thuja and vitamun E topically but gently suggested the need to strengthen his immune system through a better diet. Some have even added tripe, canned tripe but still a great feat. Others have added coconut oil. I encouraged one owner to switch to canned food while her pup was showing signs of an UTI. I have shared your skin and ear suggestions. They are receptive to a point. Dr. White coat comes up from time to time. I am nicknamed “The Doo Guru” and “My local natural vet” by some and I have a feeling that although they may not take all of my advice right away and do a 180 as I have, it may slowly sink in and when the time is needed for a “DOLR”, at least they’ll be familiar with the bigger picture and more prepared to jump in head 1st when they show up at your door. Sadly, I have a feeling it’s gonna take a serious issue or a life lost too soon to wake most of them up (as it did me…although the difference was I didn’t know any better). I remember a time when we were discussing raw food and how Dr white coat was supportive in one owner’s decision to supplement kibble with things like eggs, veggies, cottage cheese, cooked meat and liver (all of which i encouraged the group to try and of course they sought vet approval before starting). But the vet warned of raw (no surprise there) and God forbid, raw bones were the devil. It was then that I had an urge to shout it from the rooftops and I went with it despite an already growing feeling of being slightly alienated in my practices from the rest. I exclaimed (as politically correct as I could muster up) that we are our animals voice, their very best advocate. Even though we naturally seek the stamped approval from our vet whom we bestow our utmost faith in doing the very best for Fido, the truth is that most vets don’t treat the patient, they treat by what works for the majority, what rids the symptoms. I pleaded with them that day that THEY need step up and be the coach (not Dr Whitecoat) and let their dogs be the cheerleader. It’s a little scary at first. I was so happy when you took us on to help. I want to be able pass the key along and help unlock a life of health for others. I wish someone would have been there 8 years ago to take me by the hand, to offer raw guidance, to tell me not to feel guilty when I was a month or two late with an annual rabies vaccine or a HW med when there was a foot of snow on the ground! It’s hard to be the gentle leader when you are so passionate. I feel like I have found 20 golden tickets but can’t find a single friend to tour the chocolate factory with me! With force comes resistance, so I just continue my posting despite the radio silence. What gives me sanity is I can monitor who’s viewing. They’re there…they may be quiet, but when the time is right for them, I want to be there to help.

  6. Doria on March 22, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    Hi, Dr. Will! I have a fairly young litter of carefully planned-for Whippet puppies, to be raised pretty naturally, and one of the people who wanted to purchase a pup from me is a vet who just moved to another state to take a job–with Banfield! She seemed like a knowledgeable, caring pet-owner, but now I’m really glad she backed out of the sale!! I can only imagine what could have happened to a Whippet Puppy, on the Employee Version of the “Wellness” plan! That pup would have been dead in six months or less from Banfield’s idea of ”Health Care”. And by then, they’d have probably indoctrinated her to the point where she’d blame me, and say I sold her a sick puppy!!! Thanks for being the Voice of “Not-So-Common” sense!

  7. Tara on March 18, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    I discovered your resources page and wished I had just opened my eyes and looked through your site before asking! Thank you so much, Dr. F.
    Your recent post about Tenchu brought tears to my eyes…sending much love and light to all involved in his healing.

  8. Tara on March 15, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    Hi Dr. Falconer,
    I’m grateful to have found your page by way of a comment following one of Dr. Becker’s Mercola articles. I have a 10-year-old Golden, who, sadly, has been receiving boosters as long as I’ve had him, and has also had the rattlesnake vaccine in the past when we lived in a high rattler area. I don’t know how this whole vaccination thing never entered my mind – I have methylation and detox issues myself, but I just never thought of my poor boy! Can’t slap myself in the forehead enough.
    Since I’m new to all of this , I’m wondering what he *should* be getting, if anything, at this point. Is there somewhere I can find information on what’s actually appropriate, and when? He’s not my last dog, but he will be the last one that I will unnecessarily vaccinate.
    And how do people that don’t vaccinate deal with boarding facilities that require them? I haven’t found one yet that doesn’t, but maybe I just haven’t looked hard enough.
    Appreciate your hard work and true care and compassion for animals!

    • Will Falconer, DVM on March 15, 2013 at 4:38 pm

      Hi Tara, and welcome to the Vital Pack!
      I think the answers you’re seeking will become pretty obvious if you read the Efficacy page I’ve posted on vaccinations. Cliff’s Notes version: your guy has been immune since his early vaccines, and that immunity is likely lifelong. He’s done. But read that page, and you’ll see the source of that information. I think you’ll be surprised.
      You’ve just inspired me to get my Snake Bite Remedy Kit into high gear, because it’s worked very well in animals struck by rattlers, and has no downside like the vaccine. I’ll see if I can get that up in the next week or so, on a page all its own.
      With kennels, most will accept a letter of waiver from a vet. I write them for my patients regularly. Another goal I have is to educate kennel owners about this! They are taking way too large a role in affecting other people’s animals by having these rules, and it’s not a positive effect! Same with the groomers — they may mean well, or maybe they are just doing CYA, but it’s really gotten out of hand.
      Thanks for joining the discussion.

      • Tara on March 15, 2013 at 10:33 pm

        Fantastic! I can’t thank you enough, seriously, for the info and the warm welcome. Looking forward to your Snake Bite Remedy Kit, especially since it looks like we’re moving back to that same high rattler area within the year.
        It’s all really just so simple… Too bad there isn’t *enough* money in simple for some, huh? 😉
        One more question – is there, by any chance, a database of like-minded vets? I’m in Los Angeles… Need I say more?
        Happy to have found the right pack to run with! Tenacity will win out in the end.

        • Will Falconer, DVM on March 16, 2013 at 3:17 pm

          Hi Tara,
          Yes, simple is usually best. We’ve unfortunately lost sight of that in vet medicine, following the well worn path of human medicine, which lost it long ago.
          See my Resources page for two lists: holistic vets (AHVMA) and homeopathic vets (AVH), who are holistic, but use specifically homeopathy, my medicine of choice for many reasons. And if you can’t find someone you like locally, many of us work by telephone, so you have lots of choice.
          Best of health to you and the furry ones in your care.

  9. Linda Ellison on March 7, 2013 at 7:48 am

    Dear Dr. Falconer, I am new to your website. My Jack Russell terrier, Patrick, newly diagnosed with IMHA, nearly died 3 weeks ago. I found your site while searching for information and knowledge to help him. He is doing much better, and he will NEVER get any more vaccinations! I’m so thankful to have found your site – I’m certain it will help me continue to learn about how to help my dog and cat to stay healthy. Thanks so much for all you do….Linda

    • Will Falconer, DVM on March 7, 2013 at 10:25 am

      Hi Linda, and welcome!
      I’m so glad you were able to save Patrick. The odds of survival are lousy, as you probably read on my post.
      So, of great interest to us all, could you tie Patrick’s illness to anything that might have happened within the weeks or month just prior to this? Vaccination? HW pill? Other meds?
      Thanks. And again, welcome aboard.

  10. Nancy on March 6, 2013 at 9:15 am

    I think you should call yourself the Renegade Vet as you are willing to discuss issues, others are not. I applaud your bravery and compassion.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on March 6, 2013 at 9:38 am

      Hi Nancy, and welcome to our ongoing discussion!
      I really feel like I’ve got to take the gloves off now. It’s become apparent that greed still drives a lot of veterinary decisions, especially frequent vaccinations. The average Dr. WhiteCoat in practice hasn’t slowed down, and many insist on yearly shots, even though we’ve really had it “out there” in the profession for a good 20 years that this is just plain wrong. The human example with kids and autism and asthma is a great (though very unfortunate) example of how we’ve driven off the cliff with vaccinations.

  11. Fred Donaldson on March 5, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    Dr. Falconer,
    I believe the Banfield Corporate, (Wall Street), business model is what has so negatively impacted our countries well being, our lives in health care, drugs, medical equipment, as well as our metal & fiscal well being……………and now animal care? Wow, whatever it takes to make a buck!
    You are on the right path and we appreciate you! Ms Mornin says you are the best, evidenced by her 13+ years of perfect health on your suggested diet and assistance.
    Thank you for standing up and speaking the Truth!

    • Will Falconer, DVM on March 5, 2013 at 5:36 pm

      Thanks for your kind words, Fred. Yes, it’s a case of Big Pharma at work, and that’s not been good for the humans, so it’s unlikely to be any better for the animals, as you rightly point out.
      I’m glad Mornin kitty is doing well!

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