Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Find a Vet You Like and Stay With Them

People who vet hop drive me crazy! I'm not talking about trying different vets until you find the one you feel is the best fit for you and your pets. I'm talking about those folks who never have a regular vet. They take their pets to the vet only when illness or injury strikes and it's rarely the same veterinarian twice in a row. 

They explain how vets are only in it for the money and they complain about the cost of everything from CBC panels to medications.(Of course veterinary school was free thus there are no student loans to repay, all laboratories perform tests at no charge for veterinarians, the gas and electric company donate services and both vets and staff work for free because they are so dedicated to helping animals. Thank goodness they don't have to pay for groceries, gasoline, medical care/insurance or a mortgage.)

I recently had a conversation with an acquaintance who was outraged by the cost of medicine a vet was prescribing for his dog. On the one hand, I knew the price he was quoted to be high but on the other hand, he'd never seen this vet before, he went there because he had a free exam coupon and the vet only had his word on his dog's history because he had never bothered to keep records or bring any with him. Of course all vets are omnipotent and know all, see all and can look at a dog or cat and know its entire medical history.

I know he loves his dog but honestly, IMO, he needs to love his dog enough to find a vet and stick with him or her. Why is that concept so hard for so many people to understand? Find a veterinarian you are comfortable with, one your pet also likes then take your pet in at least annually. As the pet gets older it might be necessary to take them semi-annually and even more often if it has a medical condition that needs monitored. 

There may be a few wacko vets out there but I can tell you unequivocally there are a lot more wacko owners. A veterinarian goes to school for a minimum of 8 years, they do continuing education to keep their skills sharp, they spend a lot of time and money developing and maintaining the skills needed to diagnose and treat your pets. Respect that.

Establish a rapport  and trust your vet. If you don't understand something, ask. If you can't afford a recommended treatment tell your vet that and ask if there is a less expensive alternative treatment that might help.  If the pet needs a treatment you can't afford and there is no alternative available, ask how much time your pet can wait and then get busy and find the necessary funds. Pet owners should be prepared to find a way to pay for needed care, that is your responsibility not your vet's. Vet care is not discretionary, you have a pet, you have a responsibility, live up to it. 

You'll find that a regular vet most often will try to help where they can.  Sometimes they may be able to direct a pet owner short of funds to resources where the pet owner can apply for financial assistance, sometimes they may be able to offer a discount (please note that is never required) and many times, because they know your pet, they can offer advice that money can't buy. 

They can't do any of this if you are forever vet hopping. Figure out what you need in a vet and then look for one you click with. Then, take your pet there for annual or semi-annual visits. If you have an emergency, start with your vet and follow their instructions. You will make many investments over the years but one of the very best is investing in the right vet for your pet. (And you won't have to listen to me rant because you vet hop. LOL)


Friday, January 18, 2013

Another Spoiled Royal is waiting at the Bridge. . .

Joey came to us with an attitude and several health issues in October of 2009. He was Cushinoid with terrible allergies and because his immune system was compromised he had 2 or 3 ear infections a year. He developed an eye ulcer but a good ophthalmologist and a lot of luck saved his eye. There was always a question whether or not he could see as he had a damaged optic nerve and his ophthalmologist was pretty sure he was blind yet he acted like a sighted dog.

A year ago Joe developed diabetes and cataracts appeared seemingly overnight. The cataracts answered the blindness question as we watched him struggle to learn to live in a completely black world.  And learn he did. Just like Max, Joe learned the layout of the yard and the house. We put a lit lavender candle at one end of the house and a vanilla one at the other. We used different textured throw rugs in the doorways between rooms and we kept furniture in the same positions. Joe adjusted so well that visitors had no idea he was blind, figuring it out only if he bumped into them. He received two insulin shots a day, Trilostane for the Cushings, and an allergy shot once a month. Life went on, he was happy and loved.

We called him our growly bear. He "talked" all the time, walking around the house and yard making growly noises. We knew his secret, he was all bark and no bite, and he was adored. He did well until September of 2012 when he needed surgery to remove his gall bladder. He had a good surgeon at a great medical facility, an on site ophthalmologist, several excellent vet techs and an outstanding primary vet in his corner. Joe survived the surgery, had his feeding tube removed, was hospitalized a couple more times, had his feeding tube put back in and he fought to live. He was a gallant little guy. Then one morning it was clear something was terribly wrong, sometime during the early hours Joey had had a stroke. We took him to the vet hoping against hope that she had one more magic trick to pull out of her bag but it was not to be. She examined Joe with her usual gentle touch, watched him walk, touched his ears and feet (which always resulted in a growl fest previously) and noted his total non-reaction. I knew he was gone but I needed someone else to tell me. "He's had a stroke, he's not going to come back, I'm sorry."   There was nothing left but to hold him, love him and say goodbye. 

Dear Joey, mom misses you every day. I love you sweet boy.