Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Good Vets, Bad Vets

Do you have a good relationship with your vet? Do you trust them to take good care of your furry family member? Too many times I’ve heard from people ready to give up because their vet has prematurely given up on their pet. One person told me that their vet felt just because her kitty was elderly and had IBD, she should be put to sleep. Without trying any treatments or proper diagnostics, this vet felt the cat should be euthanized. Luckily the parent didn’t listen and the kitty is now getting the proper treatment for her condition. But this didn’t stop her in the meantime from thinking that it may be the end!

Another person I know lost her kitty because the vet out and out refused to try a different medication with her and there were no other vets around for over 100 miles. The medication is used frequently for cats with IBD and could have potentially saved her life. Maybe not, but it’s always worth trying if there's still a possible chance of recovery. He wouldn’t even consider it and there was no good explanation given as to why. This poor woman eventually lost her best friend. There are more stories like these unfortunately. But thankfully there are plenty of stories of good and even great vets as well.

I know many people with vets that truly care about them and their pets. Some have more experience with IBD and certain medications than others. But here’s the kicker; the ones who don’t…are willing to learn! They take their oaths as healers seriously and put aside any egos to actually listen to the pet parents and possibly even try new things. If you have a vet like this, you’ve won half the IBD battle. You need a vet that will be on the same side of the battle-lines with you and your sick little baby and do what it takes…together.

If you are unhappy with your current vet or you need to find another one for whatever reason, here are some things to look for:

Find a vet that has experience with IBD (or any other disease that may apply) and is willing to learn more about it. They can always do consultations with other vets and/or hospitals and consult with you in the process. They can also take a look at my website and view the case studies to see what’s working and what isn’t for different kitties.

Make sure your vet listens to your concerns about medication side effects, long term dosing and different medication options. Arm yourself with knowledge so you know what questions to ask.

Keep a diary for yourself and your vet so they know exactly what’s happening with your pet and what they’re looking for. Mention any vomiting, soft stools, diarrhea, blood in stools, inappetance and so on. It’s much easier to remember everything that’s happening and give the vet what they need to make a diagnosis. 

Make sure your vet has flexible hours and can squeeze you and your pet in if you feel something is not right. You know your pet better than anyone. If you feel something is very off or they’re sick, don’t wait to call for an appointment. Otherwise you may end up taking your kitty to the emergency.

Ask your vet’s office for a copy of your pet’s records or at the very least, an itemized receipt. This way you know exactly what they gave your pet, how much, what tests were done, etc. If you do have to take kitty to the ER for something like an adverse drug reaction, you’ll know exactly what was given to them.

Just as in your own medical care or that of your human child, be involved and ask questions. It’s you’re right as a pet parent. Any good vet won’t have a problem with that as long as you aren’t bombarding and overwhelming them.


Marty said...

Thank you! Great post. I've loved my vet since 1976. Unfortunately I'm moving, twice this next 9 mos., first to a remote area of ID, then NC., its very stressful the thought of finding a new vet. Tho I'm pretty good of asking questions and stating from my experience what I feel woks best for my cats (12), when I know.

IBDKitties said...

Thanks Marty! Good luck on that move. you have quite an adventure in front of you and the kitties. Hope you can find a great new vet too.

Brenda said...

Excellent information! After leaving the clinic that I worked at for ten years, I've been to three other clinics. I've often felt rushed in appointments. If they are on a lot of medications, it's good to bring a list, especially if it changes often.

I finally found a clinic that is cat friendly - we get put in a room upon arrival. Nothing worse for a scared, sick cat than waiting in a room of barking dogs. My cats have been traumatized by that too many times.

The new technology is great - having blood work and ultrasound results done in your appointment.

IBDKitties said...

oh yes, barking dogs can really send a cat into a tizzy! Glad you found a great clinic Brenda.

A. E. Irvin said...

I dont know that I believe in "bad vets" as much as I believe medical science itself and how it is taught it deeply flawed.

The problem I keep coming up against is that they tend to just be poor thinkers, in general. They are great MEMORIZERS of what their books say, but they cannot go off the beaten path and think well, critically, and analytically, on their own.

(Im a philosopher, critical and analytical thinking is what I specialize in, so I feel qualified to make that criticism.)

Attentional blindness is when you are so focused on one thing, you miss the gorilla in the room purely because you are not looking for it. And that is what I keep running up against with my vets.

They have focused so intently on possible diagnosis' of IBD (which is a dumping ground of symptoms, and should not be considered a "disease" as there is no cause and effect link described) and Lymphoma, that they missed the fact that my Smith has had pancreatitis. At least twice, and it is possible that chronic pancreatitis has been going on for the last four years.

Now, what is driving the pancreatitis remains to be discovered. I suspect a bacterial cause, as it seem to respond at least partially to antibiotics, although it never resolves.

And diet is somehow linked as well, although that may be because different bacteria thrive with different foods.

I sent you a long email with a link to a round table discussion at Columbia University on feline Pancreatitis. I really hope you read it, as some of the information on your page should probably be updated in light of it.

PAIN CONTROL is job one. Fluids, still, but they no longer recommend withholding food. Controlling my cats pain has done amazing things for his appetite and quality of life while he is suffering from pancreatitis, and, it is buying him precious time while we look for a cure.

I discovered that controlling his pain alone completely resolved his nausea and vomiting and anorexia. Completely. It has not cured the underlying cause, but as you know, keeping the kitty fed helps to prevent the liver failure and wasting associate with the condition.

Buprenorphine is a miracle drug for dealing with the symptoms of pancreatitis in my Smith, and I had to insist on it, not ONE VET ever thought to prescribe pain medication in the whole now five years my poor boy has been suffering and wasting away.