Even a veterinarian has ‘pet peeves’

I am not perfect and as a veterinarian I have made mistakes. However, I believe that most people in an animal care profession like mine are working toward a common goal. We love your pets as much as you do, and the goal is to provide them with the best quality of life that we can by doing what we think is best for the pet. Although some clients may not agree with recommendations, we are here to provide the best advice we can as if your pet were our own.

That being said, here are some of the pet peeves I feel should be addressed concerning my profession:

1. Accepting outside medical advice for your pet.

Be careful accepting medical advice from anyone that does not have an eight-year degree in veterinary medicine. Veterinarians are trained to give medical advice for your pet. Communication is key between you and your veterinarian. Please ask questions or call us at the office after you have had time to think about what we have told you. If you have talked to your veterinarian at length and still do not trust his or her diagnosis, then consider getting a second opinion from another veterinarian and not from the internet or another outside source. In many cases I will send a client to a referral center for a second opinion, especially if it is a difficult case. Sometimes it can be very beneficial to have multiple veterinarians working toward the goal of improving your pet’s health or helping to figure out a tricky diagnosis.

2. Accepting medical treatment for your pet from an outside source.

Some people may attempt to treat or perform a procedure on your pet that should only be done by a veterinarian. One common example is with anal gland expression. I have seen infected or ruptured anal glands, and sometimes life threatening hernias from improperly expressed anal glands. I have even seen people who attempted surgery on their own pet and can tell you many gruesome horror stories. This never turns out well!

3. Cheap veterinary services are not always best.

When looking for services, you should look for someone whom you can trust and who will provide you with the best possible services. Unfortunately there may be vets out there who cut corners and this is most likely the reason why they are more affordable. Next time you take your pet to a vet, watch how thorough the person is. Does he or she take a temperature? Do a full physical exam? Does the vet take a full history, or just come in the room, give a pet a Rabies shot and leave? Also, ask how surgeries are done. At our clinic, for example, we monitor the pet as if it were a person on the table. We provide pre and post surgical pain control and place an IV catheter for access to a vein in case the animal has any complications while under anesthesia. Your pet also has an endotracheal tube placed in its windpipe to provide a constant flow of oxygen. We monitor your pet for EKG, blood pressure, temperature, respiratory rate, oxygenation, and carbon dioxide output while under anesthesia. Each pet has its own sterile surgical pack and the doctor scrubs in separately with sterile gloves and gown for each surgery. Costs may be a bit higher; it costs money to do what is best for your pet.

4. Cheap medication for your pet is not always best.

This includes online pharmacies and over-the-counter pet products. There are still many cheap flea products sold over the counter that do more harm to your pet than to the flea! Poor products can cause Permethrin toxicity which is very common in cats when a dose of this cheaper flea medication is applied.

Online pharmacies are not always the best option. Some medications sold on these sites can be outdated, manufactured overseas, kept in inadequate temperatures, and even mishandled by illegally breaking them up into smaller quantities. To ensure you are getting the medication you ordered, our clinic has set up our own online pharmacy comparable in price to other online pharmacies. These products come directly from our own distributors. Call us for more information about how to access our online pharmacy.

5. Misunderstanding our recommendations

Some people have concerns that veterinarians are only vaccinating animals to bring in business. Please understand that at our clinic we are recommending vaccines for your pet in order to provide adequate immunity against many of the diseases that we still see in our community. We do not believe in overvaccinating and will create a vaccine schedule that best fits your pet’s needs.

In addition, if your pet is on any long term medications, we recommend checking bloodwork yearly or twice a year. We are only requiring this bloodwork because it is best for your pet’s health. We would be committing malpractice if your pet wasn’t properly monitored while on a medication. Some medications can have side effects that require us to closely watch for any changes on bloodwork. Please understand that we need to see your pet once yearly, especially if on medications. We would violate our veterinary oath by not providing a valid client-patient-doctor relationship and just refilling medications. New York State Law requires us to provide this “valid relationship” in order to practice veterinary medicine.

6. Payment Concerns

We understand that it may be difficult to come up with payment especially when faced with an emergency or unexpected surgery with your pet. We are here to help you and your pet. We will give you our best recommendation, but we understand if this is difficult for you we can provide you with other viable options. We will not just turn you away and are here to work with you toward the common goal of providing the best health care options for your pet. But understand that this is a business, and we do need to bring in income to cover our own bills in order to be here to help your pet.

Regardless of my pet peeves, I love doing what I do and wouldn’t want to be in any other profession. Although veterinary medicine can be difficult and is very sad at times, it can also be positively challenging and rewarding. Performing a life-saving surgery, coming up with an accurate diagnosis, treating that pet and giving that pet the best quality of life I can give them is my goal. Feel free to call us any time at the Dunkirk Animal Clinic 366-7440 if you have any concerns about things that I have discussed above! Have a safe and happy 2014!

Dr. Rebekah Frost is a veterinarian whose column “For Pet’s Sake” appears monthly in the OBSERVER. Send comments tot lifestyles@observertoday.com