After the fifth time someone forwarded me “The Shocking Truth Your Vet Is Hiding” type articles in the past week, I had to take a stop from my scheduled 12 Days of Clinics to address it. I debated on a few clickbait titles for this post:
alt: “Why Magazines are Getting Away With Murder”
alt: “The Shocking Truth These Publishers Are Hiding”
It doesn’t really matter what the title is or if it related to the content anyway, but I imagine you already know that. But let’s step back a moment, and go back for a breath to 2011.
The most singularly amazing experience of my life took place in a forest in Tanzania. I had waited my whole life to visit the chimpanzees of Mahale, an experience I had anticipated with baited breath. Good, gentle, kind chimps.
And this is what I actually learned: chimps can be asses. Petty, sneaky, grumpy asses. Most everyone kind of knew that, though, right? They’re allowed bad days just like everyone else.
But I learned something else, which was also an eye opener not only for me but for the rest of the people there, for researchers who have spent their whole careers in the M community (by convention these communities are all lettered). Chimps, under pressure, can be vindictive.
The events I witnessed in my time, a Machiavellian soap opera of alliance forming, led to the never before witnessed assassination of the alpha chimp by his own community, an event so unexpected and rare it was written up in multiple journals. Pimu was a jerk, no doubt about it. He ruled with an iron fist. But no one expected the other males in his own community to kill him.
I was there. I saw it. I saw the way the pot-stirring chimp, third in line from the top, systematically groomed all the other males in the group, waiting for just the right moment to take advantage of their fears and frustrations with Pimu. Then- triggered by some small infraction that in other circumstances would have passed without comment, he lit off the powderkeg that resulted in an alpha getting his head smashed in by a rock.
The instigator didn’t even have to get his hands dirty. He was the Petyr Baelish of Mahale, climbing the ladder of the chaos he sowed.
The argument can be made that we are hard-wired for a black and white view of the world, to see people as friend or foe, with us or against us. Once someone’s a foe, there is nothing valuable, worthy, or meaningful in anything they say or do, ever, marinating in their evil fortress of pain or whatever it is enemies do.
It takes work to suppress that natural inclination and try to genuinely understand the actual truth of things- that most people, even those on the other side of the fence, usually have good intentions and may actually have a point about some things. But you can’t start a conversation when the guns are firing.
There’s always one person who benefits when two factions are fighting, and it’s rarely the ones out there actually getting bloodied.
Skull Smashing in Modern Veterinary Medicine
I am part of the V community of pet lovers: the veterinarians. This informs how I view the world and my place in it: as a pet lover, trusted advisor, someone who cares enough about the health of our companions that I chose this as my life’s work. I believe in the value of our work and our research and use that to make recommendations for my clients.
I am also part of the larger O community of pet lovers: the owners. I understand knowledge evolves. I attend hundreds of hours of continuing education, became certified in acupuncture, and I’m not afraid to change my advice based on evolving knowledge. I came out the gates of vet school ready to challenge old assumptions about vaccines, pain management, and nutrition, and over the last decade we have changed the way we practice medicine as a community.
I kind of assumed it was ok to be on both teams. So do you understand why it drives so many of us crazy to see this sort of thing?
These are Dogs Naturally Magazine’s most popular articles. Half the time the articles don’t even really correlate with the tone of the headline, but the damage is done. Clickbait is the equivalent of the pot stirring chimp sticking a rock in your hand and then shrugging and saying, “What? I didn’t tell you to hit anyone with it.”
I promise I never once looked a dog straight in the face with maniacal glee as I prime a syringe in front of their face, imagining the piles of money I get to roll in after work after wiping the blood of a thousand sickened pets of the floor with the research showing all these medications I recommend are actually totally unnecessary.
I’m not holding the V community blameless here. I understand there are vets who dig in their heels and refuse to admit that you have a valid interest in researching things and asking questions. There are those who look at everyone with a concern about DOI studies like this:
And they really wish you would just stop looking things up and just do what they tell you, no questions asked.
But that’s not most of us. If these types of publications (I’m picking on Dogs Naturally but that’s only because they’ve published about 10 pieces like this in the last month) really cared about the overall wellbeing of pets, they would be advocating for better ways to communicate with your veterinarian instead of just telling you we all want to kill your dog with Drano injections, euthanized horsemeat kibble and drugs we are prescribing solely because we were given a free pen, so you should just stay home and feed them coconut oil and canned pumpkin and whatever else their advertisers are selling you.
(I aced “Making Little Kids Cry in Terror”, which I took the same semester as “Why Sick Pets are Better for Business than Healthy Ones so Make Sure To Keep them Sick Through Recommended Shots and Foods.”)
So yes I’m irritated, not because the content in articles like “Why Vets Are Getting Away With Murder” has no merit despite the misleading headline, but because those clickbait pieces really just serve themselves. Information is good. Using it to sow discontent instead of discourse? Not so much.
Communication, not Coconut Oil: The True Key to Health
Concerns about vaccinations, sarcomas, immune system function, and nutrition are all perfectly valid. This should be able to be part of a discussion with a good veterinarian without bloodshed or Yelp. You are all smart people. A nice, polite, rational approach to collaboration may not sell magazines, but it does create better outcomes. I will talk to you about anything, even coconut oil, delayed neutering, titers, and raw food.
I understand the difference between your pet and the community as a whole, and if you ask why we have the recommendations we do, I’d be happy to go into all the boring public health theory and discussion of cell mediated immunity and why titers don’t prove definitive immunity and all those other things a drug rep with a burrito did not teach me in a one week course. This is communication, and it’s what two people who don’t want to kill each other do.
The Truth I Don’t Want You To Know
Is there one? I don’t know, maybe this:
- the times I went home crying because I couldn’t save a pet.
- The times I vomited in the parking lot because of the stress of the day or the person who threatened my receptionist with a gun.
- The fact that on some days, I said to myself had I known the physical and emotional cost of this job, I might have chosen a different path. Especially on the days people tell me I’m only doing it for the money, or the glory, or the free pens.
- I understand there are crummy vets out there. There are crummy whatever it is you do for a living, too. Just try not to be one of them.
You know what I’d really be doing if I was in this for the money? Looking for a pet with a genetic problem to exploit for fame and fortune. Alas.
I find it ironic that people are willing to believe, without question, the word of a person selling magazines, conference tickets and, I assume, advertising, and that this is done solely out of their benevolent desire to tell you the truth about the crapfest that is my profession and nothing else. There’s no room for nuanced discussion and benefit of the doubt when you’re trying to grow a brand in a world that thrives on conflict. I’d have a much larger site if I were willing to throw a few thousand colleagues under the bus for fun and clicks, but sadly, I’m plum out of rocks today.
You and I want the same thing, long and happy life for your pet. Bananas for everyone.
I am sorry that you have to deal with this so often… We had to make a No Vet Bashing rule at the forum because that type of pet person inevitably launched into those kinds of attacks and diatribes.
Dr. V says
A forum with a no vet bashing rule! I’m amazed! It’s usually such a free for all. 🙂
We <3 our vet (& we We think you are pretty amazing too)!
Dr. V says
Aw, thank you! I am always so happy to hear when people have a great relationship with their vet!
Our vet is our angel. Also there are really great holistic vets and clinics out there that still won’t reccomemnd pumpkin and coconut oil. 🙂 going holistic is always an option but people that have these views on vets will have the same views no matter the practice. also I am a social worker so I am accused of keeping services away so we don’t spend government money.
Dr. V says
Absolutely. I have a lot of respect for veterinarians who take an integrative approach, and I incorporate many aspects of that into my own work. I also own both pumpkin and coconut oil. 😉 And I vaccinate. It can be done!
Love this post for so many reasons. Open dialog and discussion with your vet is so important. I’m sure my vet at times gets frustrated with my questions and discussing literature- but she is ALWAYS open to discussion and willing to discuss pros and cons for vaccinations, medications, etc. She ALWAYS has my beloved pets best interest in mind whether we agree on things or not. She doesn’t get paid enough to deal with what she has to deal with- so I also have an issue with claims that vets are out for the money. the vast majority of vets don’t get paid enough to put up with what they have to.
Thanks for speaking up. My daughter, the vet who sent me your link, agrees with your comments. Sensational headlines are not good for human relations. Honesty and sensitivity are.
Elizabeth Hille Cribbs says
Adding to the voices of people who love their vet. Ours is amazing, and part of why we chose her (and switched our pets to her for the first time in our lives) was the care she showed both our kitties and us as the caretakers. I know vets work incredibly hard and make huge sacrifices to do what they do, and I’m so grateful.
Working Dog Doc says
I love it! I feel like I could have written this myself. Love love love it!
Elizabeth Andrews says
Very well said!
Thank you. My husband and I work in vaccine development, at a University. I get furious when people post about the evil vaccine industry and how it’s better for your dog to just get kennel cough… Or how the preventatives are ‘poison’ (because apparently getting Lyme disease is a better option). We need more people like you, talking about the other side of the story.
Lynette Friel says
I would love to hear your opinion about all of this alternative vaccine schedule & auto immune disease from vaccination stuff. My rudimentary knowledge of the immune system wants to cry “malarkey” as I was taught living things are exposed to hundreds/thousands of antigens every day, so the relatively few exposures from vaccinations is dwarfed by what we are exposed to in our daily environment .
Jen Gabbard says
Thank you for sharing this; I’ve seen so many of those click bait articles and it drives me nuts. I don’t know people have such misconceptions about veterinarians – I’ve always had a great relationship with mine and love knowing that they’re available when I need them. Our pets health is so important how can we as pet owners not appreciate those who give them the care and dedication? I don’t get it. I love my vet and I’m sad to see that the already stressful field is taking the brunt of such ridiculous articles.
It's Dog Or Nothing says
Thank you so much for posting this. I’ve seen a lot of these click-bait articles and it’s infuriating. The anti vaccine movement (in animals and humans) is just plain crazy to me. So many preventable diseases are popping up these days. I love our vet and I know that he cares about the well-being of Mauja and Atka.
Vets are partially to blame for the public’s negative perception of the profession. They should provide estimates for treatment, even just vaccinations, prior to doing the work so that the final bill isn’t a surprise. For example, during one visit my vet administered an injectable long-acting antibiotic for my dog’s bladder infection. She didn’t mention that it alone would cost $150. (Oral medication was a fraction of that price.) That was in addition to the office visit charge of $80. I was shocked at the amount of the bill when I checked out! Further, I accidentally learned that vets charge a $20 dispensing fee for medication in addition to the office visit charge. I have a tight budget and all of these extra charges really add up. Vets need to be up front about anything in addition to the consultation fee before meds are prescribed or a service such as toe nail clipping is performed.
Dr. V says
Those are excellent points. I absolutely agree that owners should expect to see and approve of an estimate before any work is done or medications administered! Ideally it should be signed and a copy offered as well.
Hmmm – my vet always provides, or at least asks me if I want a written estimate. Sometimes I do, sometimes it’s fine if he just says “it will be around $X, is that OK?”
You are able to request estimate of charges prior to treatment which is done rarely in human medicine. If you think of all the times you went to doctor or hospital and had numerous treatments for this or that….were you made aware of all charges prior to? Assumption is you were surprised to see bill total as well. You may have health insurance to help cover costs… pet health insurance is offered as well. Pets are family…their health is #1 concern, not increasing a bill. Just food for thought…….
And see, I’m total opposite. I would be offended if someone handed me an estimate for something routine such as vaccnations. I’ve had pets for 10 years. I know the ballpark of what vaccines are going to cost me. In that exam, if they find something of concern and recommend something else, such as bloodwork, I would ask how much extra that it. It’s just as much our responsibility as pet owners to ask prices. If you’re on a budget, say something. Open your mouth and ask questions. Don’t place blame about your lack of questions on other people.
If you have a tight budget, it’s your responsibility to communicate that to people. Don’t assume they know.
Ashley, CVT says
It sounds like you need a new vet or to be upfront about your budget in the beginning of the appt. I am a nurse at two different animal hospitals. I always go over potential costs of the appt prior to the doctor coming in. I feel this is very common issue in the vet field. I have been thanked numerous times for letting the o know the potential cost or near exact cost of the appt. It also helps to know if you have a budget of a certain amount. That way the doctor can prioritize diagnostic tests. For example, my one doctor really wanted this dog to go for an ultrasound but we do not perform them at our hospital. When o asked about an xray, she told them she rather them put the extra money towards ultrasound (which she makes nothing off of) than using it to do a xray for this pet’s health issue. Majority of the vets and staff are not in it for the money. The mark up on prices such as meds, nail trims , ear cleaning etc. Is what help keeps the business afloat. If I were a human nurse I would make 3x as much and do 5x less with my patients( my bestie has her BSN, so I hear about her day constantly). Unfortunately, humans are gross and I love my furry friends. Again, I am like most people in America. I work for a little more than minimum wage, I am in college to further my education/career, I have a child and bills. I understand budgets because I have one, too.
I have worked at a vet for 5yrs and if asked we ALWAYS guve an estimated cost for anything done. We however are not as expensive as your vet office but not all clinics charge dispenseing fees either. The vet cannot do any procedures or administer medications without your permission. Therefore the ball is in your court to ask questions about cost and above all of you are under financial constrains like so many are these days let them know! I cannot tell you how many times when we know from the star of the appointment how we go about discussing what or what not to do before anything is done. they are just like your healthcare provider if you don’t communicate they can’t properly assist you how you want to be.
Veterinary Student says
You should probably look for a different vet then. I’m in veterinary school and I’m learning that it is NOT okay to do any treatments prior to telling the client how much it will all cost. Typically we don’t need to with vaccinations, but with any kind of treatments, we are required (and I was required when I was a vet tech for 4 years at the clinic) to tell the owner every price and the total of their visit in the room and then compromise if it’s too high. We do the best care such as an injection because it doesn’t require you to have to pill your dog, but sometimes with a high cost like that, it’s better to pill your dog if it’s too much for the budget. It’s the same argument; not all vets do this. In fact, students in schools are learning that this is not okay and that you need to make sure you get all the consent you need!
Maybe you should look into changing vets. The clinic I work at offers estimates for everything we do. Yet we still have people who sign the estimates then come back after we have done what they oked and they have refused to pay. They claim we are ripping them off. I have had to call police to have people removed from our clinic because they were becoming aggressive towards the staff. Anytime anything is preformed there will be a charge. Just like you don’t expect to do things for people for free where you work.
When you are on a tight budget, it is always wise to state that up front and also to not hold that against the vet. IE: if your pet needs $500 in care and you don’t have $500, it’s not the vet’s fault nor responsibility. The vet may have some suggestions for you for less expensive options or be able to arrange credit, but again, this is best done in advance.
A dispensing fee is one way to structure charges that might otherwise just be wrapped up in the medication cost or the visit. It costs money to buy the syringes and to stock the medication and to dispose of the syringes, not to mention the time to inject it.
Some vets have different costs than others based on cost of living in their area, how long they’ve been out of vet school and had their equipment, etc. An individual vet may not have pricing that works for you, but IME they’re not getting rich.
Katherine Kingsbury says
Vets DO estimates…sometimes all you have to do is ask, or my vet does them anyway on bigger treatments (surgeries, hospital stays, etc. So don’t solely blame all vets, when you didn’t do your part to stay informed.
i have different vets for my different animals, and i’ve never been to an appointment in which the potential cost was not discussed upfront. every time my pets have been in for something aside from their annual checkup/vaccinations, the appointment goes like this: weigh in, assessment, quote, then we ask questions and make decisions.
you as owners need to take part of the blame……when the vet mentioned the injectable antibiotic, you could have asked the cost. And you could have asked for an estimate……Vets, treat according to what is best for the pet…..owners can be non-compliant….not give the antibiotic correctly, or even not give them the entire amount prescribed…..1 injection takes care of that. And, I bet most people that choose the take home antibiotic and don’t follow through with the treatment will blame the vet for it not working…Estimates are never a problem to provide, just ask! Pets are a luxury to own, not a right, and owners should be aware of the cost of vet care.
Ghezal Tarek says
I’m a vet, well Jess has right, you have just to never stop asking questions, other people just intimidate their customers….Well for me i make a such a consultation with an antibiotic injection LA for about 5$, and a basic surgical op with anesthesia for about 30$ ! i hate that situation, i’m living in the third world, i live in Algeria.
Thank you France
That sounds like a problem with your vet more than anything else. As a vet student, I’ve been advised to be upfront regarding costs, as your client’s budget is obviously going to impact on what treatment you recommend. In veterinary medicine there are often multiple potential approaches to a problem and that means multiple possible costs. Consequently we need to talk it over with the client to find out the compromise that will provide the best care that they are able to afford.
I’ve never been to a vet that HASN’T shown me estimates prior to doing anything, including vaccinations. I have always greatly appreciated.
Thank you so much Dr V.
I recently wrote my own blog post about one of their vet-bashing articles. I wasn’t as polite as you, as I made the mistake of hitting publish while still in the grip of frustration. I can’t understand why some people would take the word of a magazine over that of someone who has dedicated their life to the health and wellbeing of animals. I received such vicious backlash from DNM followers that it’s made me question whether standing up for what I believe in is worth the cyberbullying that follows. Like you, I believe in doing the best for every patient with what I know, and continuing to learn every day. The people who write these headlines must just get a bigger response from using shock tactics and therefore more clicks on their ads etc I guess..
Dr. V says
Absolutely. Shock works, even if it’s at the expense of truth. I’m sorry you had such a rough experience- anyone who’s been blogging for a while has one of those stories of the thing they wish they didn’t publish. If we ever meet I’ll tell you about the two I regret. 🙂 It blows over and it’s worth it to let the people who support you to know they’re not alone.
I wish we had local vets that were willing to have a polite discussion about my choices to do single vaccinations on a delayed schedule, or raw food or home cooked food, or even about the proper form and function when exercising. Sadly we don’t have that here. We have the vets that get that angry glaze in their eyes when you say your opinion is different from theirs, and then they refuse to discuss your choices, and indeed ignore entirely important facts (diet plays a role!), etc. I wish I shared the opinion that “But that’s not most of us.”. Where we live, it is in fact, most of the vets here. Your article shares an important truth about misleading and inflammatory articles, of which there are many for each side of the argument, but I’m left thinking I’m in the middle of the pot-stirring monkeys with no other tribes to join.
I agree with this vet wholeheartedly=
Thank you! First let me say I love my veterinarians. The blogosphere today is full of writers who treat the veterinarian-pet owner interaction as if was an adversarial relationship. “Medicine vs. Mom”, “How to say NO to your vet”, “Vaccines will kill your dog”. This saddens me greatly. Before she moved to North Carolina, I had the great fortune to have Dr. Nancy Kay take care of two of my pets when they were diagnosed with cancer, and what I learned from her was how to be the absolutely best advocate for my dogs in all of their healthcare decisions. The internet is an amazing resource and articles abound that empower us to learn as much as we can and work in partnership with our veterinarians to achieve the best possible outcomes for our pups. Dr. Kay’s book, Speaking for Spot, is a manual on advocating for our pets health. Fear mongering and telling you what NOT to do will never empower us. We owe our pet’s lives to you and the many dedicated veterinarians who care for them. Thank you!
M. Fitzgerald says
As always, you are articulate, passionate, rational and truthful. Thank you for putting into words what so many of us (veterinary technicians) wish we could say.
Sadly many inexperienced pet owners are victimized by bad vets and, yes, bad vets do exist. Realizing you have taken your pet to a bad vet isn’t like realizing you took your family to a lousy restaurant, very often the poor animal pays dearly for their ineptitude! My neighbor bought their 7 mos old perfectly healthy German Shepherd puppy from a veterinarian who also happens to breed top-quality GSDs that compete in schutzhund, and are highly sought after by police departments. At 7 months of age this puppy was fully vaccinated. The seller suggested the new owner take the puppy to their vet for a (perfunctory) wellness exam ONLY. Their vet never so much as glanced at the puppy’s health records! Instead she gave him a 7-way, flu, lyme and bordetella vaccines all at once! Then she told the new owners the raw diet the dog was on would give him salmonella and he should be on Science Diet. She then sold them hundreds of dollars worth of food, heartworm pills and Frontline. Their bill was nearly $1000. Within 24 hours the puppy was deathly ill with nonstop vomiting & diarrhea and hives broke out all over his body. The owners then took him to a 24 hr ER where they spent another $800. Yes, these people were dumb to allow the vet to give their puppy all those vaccines but they said they thought the vet was only acting in the best interests of their dog. Ya right! And how often does this scenario repeat itself on a daily basis around this country?
I really don’t understand why more people aren’t downright offended that publications and “news sources” would resort to fear mongering and emotional manipulation for ratings. It’s incredibly insulting to the intelligence of the general public and yet it’s a tactic that seems to work really well. These types of poorly researched, incendiary articles are not only dangerous, but contributing to the general public’s increasingly poor critical thinking skills. It’s sad and as a critical care veterinary technician, it’s also scary, and very exhausting. I’m all for discussing treatment options with owners, to include alternative medicine, but if we, the professionals you paid to give you their opinion based on countless education hours, give you medical advice based on scientific principles and you refute that advice because of an article you read online one time….well, there’s only so many times you can have the same circular arguments with people before you give up and realize that they are going to do what they are going to do. I am ashamed to say that I try a lot less hard to change people’s minds than I used to. It’s next to impossible.
Teresa Duncan says
While I do worry about over-vaccination and damages it can cause to some dogs, (not all), I wouldn’t dream of NOT having my puppies vaccinated for certain things. I also think that “less is more” and that the less stress we put on the immune system, the better off we are. (Humans as well as animals.) Now, that’s my humble opinion…
I have had vets tell me that my dogs “MUST” get a flu vaccine. Nope. I have had vets tell me that the puppies “MUST” have ALL of their shots at the same time. Nope. I wouldn’t give my child six immunizations at the same time, either. I would rather pay more vet visit fees than get them all at once. I have seen some dogs react horribly to things like Trifexis, and I have seen some dogs tolerate it very well. It all depends on the dog, the breed, and the vet.
I want to raise my puppies as naturally as possible, with as few chemicals added to their system as possible, and for this, I need/want a vet who will take time to TALK to me about what’s best for my dog and not just dictate to me what I should do. I DO have some serious concerns about vaccine-related illnesses such as ITP. (It seems to be a real problem for my breed, the Kuvasz.) What are your thoughts on Jean Dodd’s Vaccine Protocols?
This is simply a result of mass marketing of fear instead of reality. Chemicals are everywhere. Everything is a chemical. It’s impossible to live a chemical free life. You breathe, eat, drink…live chemicals. Vaccines are a teeeeeny tiny tiny percentage of antigen we are exposed to daily. The risks of vaccines are teeny tiny, less than the risk of driving your pet to the vet. Or your child. You are being lied to by sheisters and hucksters and charlatans out for your hard earned money, and that was the entire point of this article. A vet and a Dr would not do something to make your or your family or your pets sick. For many many reasons.
I disagree that “everything is chemical”. True, there’s no escaping it, but why add more? By that logic, what the heck, let’s put Roundup all over the grass, and flea bomb the house? It is possible to reduce exposure to harmful chemicals, for us and our pets.
I feed raw, and have for 15 years, I do vaccinate, but very conservatively, and like above, not all the same time. My current pup wasn’t vaxed til 12 weeks old, then one more at 16 weeks, and just Parvo/Distemper. Rabies at 18 months. And that’s all I’ll do. I lost my last dog, my heart dog, to hemangiosarcoma, and cancer is so so high in our dogs. I’m also not neutering.
Not everything is some ploy to pull the wool over our eyes. My mom has been quite effectively fighting cancer, the second round no less, for some years, through avoiding chemicals, extremely healthful eating, and some “alternative” treatments, as well as listening to decent doctors. But they do push chemo and harmful treatments often, because that’s what’s done, and I don’t think that in either case, vet or human doctors, that they’re always absolutely right. The key is to not fall prey to sensationalism like detailed in the post, but use our brains, and educate ourselves. I appreciated this article, because people can go to such extremes, either way.
Communication is key! Owners need to find a vet with whom u share mutual respect. U know your dog better than any vet possibly could, & a good vet knows this & uses it to combine w their extensive knowledge for the best outcome. Bananas for everyone!
I understand that for many people, price is the issue and veterinary services can be very expensive. In my case, it has nothing to do with price, I can afford and am willing to spend whatever it takes to keep my pets healthy. My issue is that I have been recommended on multiple occasions to allow my dog to receive drugs, treatments and even surgeries that were not in his best interests. I have heard from vets that there is pressure to push unnecessary procedures however my experience has also been that some vets (like some doctors) just don’t know. I have been told that my dog needs annual vaccinations and when I mention that I have him titre tested, the vets don’t even know what that is. I was told my dog needed to be placed under a GA for x-rays to check something that we could determine from the dog without x-rays (whether his cruciate ligament was still attached) and the vet actually told me the x-rays wouldn’t show anymore than whether or not it was still attached.
Luckily I sought a second opinion, this vet explained that if the ligament detached, we’d know it and if it hadn’t, the x-rays wouldn’t show anything. My dog was prescribed anti-inflammatories and made a complete recovery – the ligament never did detach. Now had I gone ahead with the recommendations from the first vet, yes I would have been $1000 poorer but more importantly, my dog would have been put through an unnecessary procedure with potentially serious side-effects.
I compete in sports with my dogs and through this, I am lucky enough to have found a fantastic vet that I can trust and who I know has the intelligence and commitment to be able to best help me look after my pets. Unfortunately, most vets do not.
Most vets probably do. You’ve just been unlucky. I would also ask whether the first vet you saw was part of a chain of veterinary practice or if he/she was independent. I’ve heard from one of my lecturers that with increased commercialisation of the profession, the businessmen/women who now own practices push the vets to perform somewhat unnecessary procedures 1. To cover their own asses regarding insurance etc. (i.e. being able to say the vets did everything they possibly could) and 2. To earn back the money they invested in the practice.
A Small town vet says
Radiographs are actually the best way to show if a CCL has ruptured or not, and they should be done under sedation. While you cannot see the actual ligament, you can see changes around the stifle and patella that would indicate the ligament has been damaged. The first vet was telling you the truth. Just because someone offers a cheaper alternative that happens to work, it does not necessarily mean it was correct. Taking a wait and see approach instead of radiographs is also fine, but you run the risk of injury the other knee while you wait. It is also possible your dog has a partial tear, that may rupture fully in the future.
Vet assistant says
I have been on both sides here. As an animal owner/lover/rescuer and as a vet assistant at a few different clinics. At all of the clinics, we go over cost. When YOU call for an appointment we go over the approximate cost of what you want your pet to be seen for. If something else is found that should be treated, we go over cost and or alternatives. When I started my very first vet job it was because I had a sick animal. I was so impressed by the drs and staff, I started volunteering at that clinic. Then they hired me. I have learned a lot about what goes on behind the scenes. I have held a baby basset hound in my arms while his lungs filled with blood from eating Decon. This happened while his owners went to “lunch” to decide on what they wanted to do. I have answered the phone and the woman on the other end asked me how she could kill her dog. I was horrified!! I told her I could not help her. Yes, there are some bad vets out there. I left my last job because I would not work for her. It comes down to this, a pet is for its life time. If you have an animal you are responsible for its care and well being. If you cant afford that, dont get a pet.
Deborah Cottrell says
The only addition I would make to your excellent article is to point out that veterinarians have the highest suicide rate of any profession in the world. That’s not because we make tons of money. It’s because most of us have such compassion fatigue that it’s often not compatible with life.
A Ford says
Back in the day, I wanted to be a vet. Until I took a look at how some people treat their animals. I couldn’t do it. Could. not. do it. So thank you.
Lynette Friel says
I work in a human ED. Been an RN for almost 30 years. I trust the judgment & education of my vet 100%. If my vet doesn’t have an answer, they’re comfortable to say so & get back to me. My dogs are vaccinated on schedule. I am vaccinated as much as my dogs to protect me in my work environment. There is a lot of dangerous misinformation on the internet about human & animal medical treatment & vaccinations. A lot of poor judgment on the part of patients results from the internet. It’s about reliable resources, & my confidence is in the professional with DVM after their name & their eyes & hands on my pet. PERIOD.