It's that Time of year to make resolutions for what we'd like to do better. Now that you've had a couple of weeks to get past the holidays, What do you want to do better for your best friend? Do you want to be your pet's ally?
I use the phrase "Your Pet's Ally" to describe myself, and often this conjures images of wartime allies. It can feel like a war with your vet, but the word Ally is used in a shamanic sense as well.
An Ally offers support and understanding of a situation to those who are in it. An Ally can be your own body, an animal sent to teach you, or an angel/ spirit being.
So how can you be your pet's Ally? How can I be your pet's Ally?
The best thing I can tell you is to trust your gut! Sometimes we are in the position of having to make a snap decision about our pet's life, and in that instant we are afraid.
We are afraid that we will lose our beloved companion, we are afraid that we will make the wrong decision. We are afraid the doctor will yell at us for choosing an action they do not agree with. Trust yourself. Trust that you are making the right choice.
If you are facing a less serious situation, do your research, but don’t get overwhelmed. I talk to so many people that have researched themselves into a whirling dervish, and the information becomes so contradictory, they don’t know what the right path to take is.
The Merck Veterinary Manual can be a good place to start. It may not be 100% up to date, but you can get an understanding of what your pet has been diagnosed with, and start making decisions from there. Often I find people have not been given enough info by their veterinarian to understand what is going on with their pet, and this resource can help.
If your doctor starts talking about there being only one way to treat the condition, take a jaundiced view. Sometimes that is true, but often there are many other options. One of the most frustrating things I dealt with in practice was clients that had been to the ER clinic because their pet had Intervertebral disk disease, and was unable to walk.
They were given the option of an MRI and surgery to the tune of $5000, or euthanasia as the only options. This would infuriate me because we managed similar patients with conservative therapy for decades, with adequate results. What was worse is if the client refused these 2 options, and wanted to talk to their regular vet in the morning, their pets were rarely given adequate pain control, creating so much needless suffering for the pet.
If your doc starts talking about Evidenced-based medicine being the reason for their recommendations, realize that approx 12% of the recommendations are backed by Double-blind studies. The rest are provided by industry, or are empirical - meaning “we’ve done this for 20 years and it seems to work”. This is what Evidence-Based Medicine claims to not be, but truly, this is why the practice of medicine is considered an art. As you practice, you learn how to improve your patient’s outcome.
Likewise, if you find an expert online that is saying that their way is the only way, be skeptical. I had a colleague that offered chiropractic manipulation and acupuncture but would not work with clients unless they agreed to take their pets off of all western medicines. For an elderly dog that is profoundly arthritic, this would be instantly debilitating. Lastly, find someone who can give you a second opinion. When I was in practice and had seen a patient for so long, it was sometimes hard to see what else to do, and this is where a fresh pair of eyes could provide real help. Whether it’s me, or someone else near you, get another opinion so you can make sure everything possible has been done for your pets.