We learned fast – and the hard way – that choosing the right vet is probably the most important thing we could do for our new puppy. We figured that a recommendation by good friends was the safest way to go….but not so. This guy seemed nice, his office was big, clean, and trendy, and best of all, he had a built-in kennel so we could leave Daisy there when we travel.
BUT – his lackadaisical attitude and inattention to her symptoms almost killed her. We noticed the day after we got her (at 2-1/2 months old and just 2-1/2 pounds) that she had a little cough, so we scheduled a vet visit for the next day. He gave her a general exam, then gave her a routine parvo/distemper shot. He also took the usual stool sampling, which was analyzed in his office. We pointed out her cough and he said, “She’s in perfect health. Don’t worry about it.”
Over the next few days, Daisy’s cough got much worse – MAJORLY worse – to the point that she developed heavy, phlegmy-sounding coughs that went on for a while, followed by horrible-sounding labored breathing. It got worse at night and we were up every night with it, and it worsened by the day. We looked her symptoms up online and there were a few possibilities, some of which were pretty scary: collapsing trachea syndrome (somewhat common in toy breeds), kennel cough, for which we were told she’d been vaccinated, allergies, and respiratory infection.
We made an emergency vet appointment – which they told us would cost DOUBLE – and took her in for a recheck. He listened to her chest and even with his stethoscope, he pronounced her “in perfect health” once again.
“But what about all this awful coughing?”
“Well her lungs are clear, but I’ll give you a general antibiotic and if she gets better after taking it, we’ll know it was something we couldn’t detect.”
WHAAAAA??? I wouldn’t give my dog a random antibiotic without a diagnosis any more than I’d do that to my child! And what did he mean that he “couldn’t detect” a problem – this poor puppy could hardly breath without having a coughing fit!
“Could it be Collapsing Trachea Syndrome? I read that it can be controlled in young puppies with medications and possibly surgery.”
“Don’t look stuff up online, it’s full of misinformation.”
“Yes, but I do research for a living and I know the difference between Joe Schmo’s site and a reputable organization’s site. This information was from the AHS and serious veterinary sites.”
“If she’s got collapsing trachea, there’s nothing that can be done about it. She’ll live.”
That was it – I looked in the Yellow Pages and found one local vet who stood out from the rest. He had AVA awards and certifications, among other impressive things. I don’t usually go by that – I’ve been to plenty of doctors myself who were head of this and head of that, and they truly sucked – but I had to try for the best, since I felt this could be our last chance. I called and they squeezed us right in, and I’m happy to say that this vet saved our puppy’s life. We told him what happened with the other vet, and he got so upset about it. He said, “I don’t even have to use my stethoscope to hear that she has a moderate respiratory infection that’s bordering on severe.” OMG! He gave her a thorough exam, which confirmed his initial diagnosis.
To make things worse, he said that although Bad Vet didn’t cause the infection, he irritated and escalated it by giving her a vaccination while she was exhibiting symptoms of illness. Isn’t hearing lung congestion and knowing not to vaccinate a potentially sick pet the basics of Vet Training 101???
He also asked for a stool sample because he didn’t trust the other vet’s findings; he does an in-house analysis AND sends a sample out to a lab for analysis because the labs have advanced equipment that can find things vets’ equipment can’t, and it’s also good as a double-check system. I’d read this online as well, on a couple vet’s sites as well as the American Humane Society site. On the other hand, Bad Vet only did in-house testing. Results? The new vet discovered two nasty parasites for which he had to make two special medications in order to kill them. Bad Vet spotted NEITHER.
You’d think that Bad Vet would have a failing practice, but you’d be wrong. He’s part of a group practice that I discovered is a chain (like the McDonald’s of vet practices) – another thing the AHS and vet sites warned against. Why are they flooded with patients? Because they’re CHEAP – half the cost of private practice vets.
Moral of the story – when it comes to veterinarians, you get what you pay for.