October is National Pet Wellness month. It is a perfect time to make sure that your dog or cat has been to see their veterinarian this year. We see our vet a number of times throughout the year, but this month is when their vaccines are due. I have read so many stories questioning how often our pets need their inoculations and if there are some you can skip without fear.
It is important that you make this decision along with your veterinarian. That means that you want your pet’s doctor to be easy to talk with about your feelings. If you are intimidated by your vet, it might be time to find a new provider. We have been to countless clinics over the past thirty-plus years of having dogs and cats. There was a time that I sat passively by and let the vet administer whatever treatment they deemed necessary. It took a lot of courage for me to begin to question them. I think that is a big problem in our society. We are taught that doctors and vets always know what is best for us. The truth is they don’t.
We spend each day with our pets and nobody knows them better. If they are behaving outside the norm, we immediately notice. Your vet only sees what is in front of them and they base their opinion on what we tell them and test results. If they don’t test for the right symptoms, a problem can go undetected. It is helpful to keep a diary of symptoms to share with your veterinarian.
My most recent experience with differing opinions came a few months ago. Bentley had a knot on his back last spring and it was getting bigger. My first thought was cancer. I no longer Google symptoms because it usually confirms my worst fears or it tells me that death is imminent. We had five different vets look Bentley’s back. Three of them were at the same clinic. They assured me that it was a fatty tumor and nothing to worry about. “Just leave it alone.” they said. If you are like me, that is not possible. If there is something growing on my dog, I want to know for certain that it is harmless. This knot did not appear harmless to me. Finally, the fifth vet asked if she could aspirate it to see what was inside. She did not think it was a fatty deposit.
I was relieved and shocked to find out that it was nothing more an abscessed hair follicle. She drained it and when he walked back into the examining room, that large knot was completely gone. In her hand was a sample of what she drained. It was nasty, but it was not cancer or a fatty tumor. Had we not continued to question the various vets until we found one willing to really listen to our concerns, I’m sure that he would have a huge mass on his back today. Either that or it would have burst and scared me to death! That is when I realized that even vets in the same office don’t always agree with a diagnosis.
Last week we took Bentley in for his annual check-up and he was given a clean bill of health. When it was time for his shots, I questioned what he was being given. One of the routine procedures is the Bordetella nasal spray or shot. My dogs are not around other animals so I didn’t feel that he needed this particular medication. It is given every six months and required if your dog goes to daycare or is boarded. After I told the vet that I didn’t feel it was necessary at this time, she was very understanding. If they need to be boarded, I will take them in for the nasal spray. Until that time, there is no reason for them to be put through the stress of having something sprayed up their sensitive nostrils. It really felt empowering to finally take a stand in my dog’s medical treatment.
I’m not sure if my new found courage comes from age or learning how to be a more pro-active pet parent. Either way, it feels great. I trust my vet but I have learned to trust my gut instincts even more. Do you feel comfortable discussing or even disagreeing with your veterinarian?