Guilt is a hard thing to avoid. I get it, and I know probably 99% of people get it, and that is being optimistic. Having grown up in catholic home, you are raised to feel guilty over everything, even feeling guilty! So when your vet basically tells you you need to empty your bank account or your dog will die (in so many words), what do you do?
Recently I took my dog into my vet because she had swollen paws that were giving her a hard time walking. She’s an old dog, a rescue. I’ve had her for over 8 years, she was probably close to 8 when I got her so you can do the math, that’s a pretty good life. We gave her the life of Reilly, in fact we should have named her Reilly. She’s still alive by the way, so good news there.
So swollen paws turned into possible rheumatoid arthritis, which turned into….well, maybe we give her an ultrasound, a thyroid test, no wait – we need to test her liver. So, after $1100, turns out….she’s old. She does have a tumour on her liver, that my vet has called me about twice already to “redo” in case it has grown…so if it has then what? Do we operate on a 16 year old dog?
Finding a good vet is like finding a good mechanic, very rare and almost impossible. Understand it’s a business and money needs to be made, these are very skilled doctors and these tests are always informative, but not always necessary…just in my opinion.
If you ever feel like you are backed into a corner at your vet, here are a few steps you can take to help with some of your decision making when it comes to your furry friend.
1. Do your homework. In my case, when I searched online for similar paw issues, I found many posts of people who were dealign with the same. They recommended soaking the dogs’ paws in warm water and epsom salts every night and guess what? It worked! In 3 nights she was better and walking, paws deflated. Unfortunately by then, my bank account was also deflated (better luck next time).
2. Ask many questions. What are we doing and why? What results are you expecting and if we don’t get those, then what? Make sure the next step isn’t, well then we will do surgery, or we will start chemo, if these are the next steps, and your dog is approaching mid to late teens, unless that’s something you feel you would like to put your dog through that might “maybe” work, don’t even commence step one. Again, do your homework.
3. Speak with your vet upfront. Let them know the situation with you furry friend. If she is really too old for chemo and surgery, let them know that if this is where things are headed, you would rather just enjoy the next time together and build lasting memories while there still is that quality of life.
4. To quote Phil on Modern Family, WTF? Why the Face? Ignore it. How many times have we agreed to a procedure for our dog because we felt like we were being judged for being a bad owner? Only you know how much you love your dog, and what your dog can or can’t handle. Don’t let anyone decide for you.
5. Get a second opinion or move to another vet. Unless your dog has a life threatening, need to take care of it now kind of thing, get a second opinion. Granted, a second opinion will cost a little more, but your new vet can obtain tests and records from you current vet, or hopefully, before you do any type of test or procedure, you can can get a second consultation. I wish I had done this with my situation, I may have only spent the equivalent of another examination and not paid for every test you can do on a dog (not to mention traumatizing the poor girl), to find out nothing concrete that will help her.
Vet ares great. They are great people doing great things for animals. Like any profession, we always strive to deal with the people that do what they do for love and passion.
I have had animals my entire life, and I have been to many vets that put the interest of the animals first. Sometimes it depends on the doctor and not necessarily the practice. Many times, tests and procedures need to be done. Let’s just make sure it’s something that will add to Fido’s quality of life and not give him unnecessary nightmares. Ultimately, it would be great to deal with a doctor that knows the difference.
I will be shopping for a new vet next week.