The Other Side of the Coin

As a veterinarian, I take care of my own pets, otherwise known as my fur kids. Exceptions include surgery. I really hate to do surgery on my own pets. I’ve done it, but would prefer not to. The other exception is when I feel they need the care of a specialist. Twice this year, I have sought out the opinions of colleagues that are specialists.

The first time was with Jubilee, my now 2 year old Labrador that had a vague intermittent lameness. It was a recurrent problem that was affecting her competition career.  I took enough radiographs to make her glow in the dark and could find nothing. First, I took her to an orthopedic surgeon, one I truly respect and trust. Of course, she was not sore on the day of her appointment.  Nothing significant was found on exam or review of her radiographs. We discussed rest, medication, and perhaps a consultation with a sports medicine veterinarian.

I did end up going to a sports medicine specialist in Maryland. He diagnosed a pulled groin muscle and mapped out a plan for recovery that included more medication, rest, physical therapy, laser therapy and chiropractic adjustment. Jubilee then saw a veterinarian that specializes in physical therapy and was adjusted by a veterinary chiropractor. I continued her physical therapy and laser therapy. She also received several more chiropractic adjustments. She is doing well at this point, but muscle injuries are a tough recovery.

The second, more recent, time I sought out specialty care for one of my animals was far more dramatic. My litter of healthy puppies had just turned five weeks old. I brought them in from their puppy pen and all was fine. I went out to dinner and returned home to find a female lying on her side in pain. She was unable to bear weight on her right rear leg. It was terrible seeing her in an inordinate amount of pain. I took her to my hospital and performed bloodwork and radiographs. Results were normal. But, clearly, the puppy was NOT normal. I decided to treat her aggressively for pain overnight. The next morning, there was no improvement. I returned her to my hospital for more radiographs which were normal. I decided she needed specialty care as I was worried about a septic joint. This condition could kill her. I drove to the referral hospital, calling ahead to ensure both a surgeon and an internist were on duty.

I got to the referral hospital and checked in through the emergency desk. My puppy was moaning in pain. She saw an emergency veterinarian first. I stated my concerns and insisted my puppy see the specialists. To make a long story short, I became my pet’s ADVOCATE. I knew she was dying and knew she needed expedited care.  The internist recognized her critical condition and began the treatment she needed. Yes, her joint tap revealed a sepsis. I left my puppy there for the intensive treatment she needed. My puppy got well, thank goodness, and returned home in less than three days. I am so glad there was a happy ending. This was a stressful event. I was upset and very worried.

So when my Schuylkill County clients wonder if I know what they are going through when their pets have problems. The answer is a resounding   YES!