How do you break up with your vet?

Have you ever broken up with your vet? If so, why? Care to share your experiences?

“The Veterinarian,” Norman Rockwell.

I’ve not totally made up my mind to do this, but I’ve been thinking lately about finding another vet. It’s not for any serious disputes, though. In general, they’ve been great, and they’re always very responsive when we have issues. We were in their office every week in April, for various issues, and they were supportive and kind.

So, why am I thinking about breaking up?

Cons

  • Distance. It takes us about an hour by car, round trip, to get to them. This exhausts me. And it’s an added expense.
  • Sometimes I question their knowledge base. Naturally, I do not have a vet degree, and so I trust them… but with all of our health issues lately, sometimes I felt like I was the one pointing things out or suggesting tests or treatments. That made me feel uneasy.

But maybe I’m crazy, because:

Pros

  • Seem to be cheaper than most local vets, who cater to the rich pups (our town is wealthier than we are).
  • Really sweet, all-female staff.
  • Have worked with lots of shepherds from the girls’ rescue, so they are very familiar with shy German shepherds.

I don’t want to break up with them, because they are so nice, but Guion wants to. He’d prefer to go somewhere nearby, and he also feels like their advice sometimes doesn’t make sense. What do you think? Am I crazy for even considering it?

Eden’s first vet visit (with us)

Waiting for the vet
Skinny puppy waiting for the vet.

So, I feel like a bad dog guardian again. (What’s new these days?)

Yesterday morning, we took her for her first check-up with us. (She had recently had a full vet visit/annual/all the vaccinations when we adopted her in January, so that’s why we waited until now.)

And it turns out that Eden is 15 lbs. underweight. Whoa. I’ve always known she was skinny, but I chalked it up to her being a gangly, gawky adolescent and how much energy she expends every day. I figured she would catch up soon enough. We feed her 4 cups of kibble a day (a cup more than Pyrrha; 375 kcal/cup), so I wasn’t that concerned. But, apparently, I ought to be, because she needs to bulk up. A LOT. She currently weights 44.4 lbs., and at 8 months, she should probably weigh 57–60 lbs. She just isn’t building muscle or seemingly maintaining any of the protein that she should be from her food.

She’s been having off-and-on loose stool issues (gross, but what’s dog blogging if not gross?). The vacillating nature of this problem didn’t cause me greater concern; some days it would be pretty normal; some days, soup. We got the results of her fecal sample this morning, and she’s clear for all worms and parasites, which is good. The fact that she’s been on Heartgard since we’ve had her also makes whipworms* rather unlikely. (*Whipworms were the leading guess at the vet’s office.) So, now I’m wondering if she has giardia, which would explain the vacillating poop-firmness situation and her inability to gain weight.

The vet put her on a week’s worth of the antibiotic Flagyl, along with the probiotic FortiFlora to help even things out. (Flagyl is also a common treatment for giardia.) I’m hoping this helps! Poor little skinny girl. I feel bad for not being more concerned about it earlier, but I’m glad she went in when she did.

Otherwise, though, she seems totally happy, normal, and energetic. The vet asked me, “Is she lethargic?” And I chortled. “Ha! God, no. I wish she were lethargic.” Joking, of course…

Sigh. I feel negligent. Hoping that this pair of meds will turn things around for her quickly! I’m ready to see a fatter puppy!

Have you dealt with these GI/underweight issues with your dogs before? What has helped?

First vet visit

OK, it wasn’t her first vet visit, because she went when the rescue brought her in, but this was our first vet visit together.

A few weeks ago, I noticed a spot on her left flank that she was chewing at and the skin beneath looked rather pink. I tried Bitter Apple spray; we tried deterring her whenever we noticed her biting the spot; but nothing worked. She hadn’t broken the skin, but I felt like it was going to approach that point unless we took some more serious action.

So, we went to the vet together.

We chose this vet based on a number of very enthusiastic recommendations, even though the practice is quite far from our house and there are multiple closer veterinarians. But I think it we made a good choice, based on this first, quick visit.

Waiting for the doc.
Waiting for the doc.

The good news: The front-desk staff, the vet techs, and the vet herself (Dr. Powell) were SO great with Pyrrha. They could clearly see that Pyrrha was nervous about everything that was going on, and so they moved slowly, spoke in dulcet tones, and let her sniff everything and everyone before trying to touch her. Pyrrha wasn’t happy about being stuck in a little room with all of us, and she certainly didn’t like having her spot poked and prodded, but chewy liver treats helped a lot by way of distraction and she never growled or put up any kind of fight (which was my great fear). Instead, I could tell she was anxious, from the wide whites of her eyes, and her body language, but she was so brave. She even performed her new trick* for everyone, after the exam was over. (*”Be pretty!” Which means: Sit back on your haunches and wave your front paws in the air. It is killer-adorable.) I was proud of her. As always, this shy dog is constantly exceeding my often low expectations. I need to stop selling her short.

The bad news: Dr. Powell wasn’t sure what the spot was. She ruled out mites, mange, and ringworm, and thought any other skin condition would be unusual, because the rest of her skin and coat is so healthy. She’s running a culture on some samples now and we should hopefully hear soon what’s going on. In the meantime, we need to keep trying to keep Pyrrha away from it, which is difficult. Thankfully, she’s not obsessed with chewing the spot and only seems to nibble at it from time to time. More vigilance on our part!

Anyway. I think *I* was more nervous than Pyrrha was about this visit, but it went very smoothly, all things considered. I’m so grateful for gentle vets and their staff, who really understand shy dogs! What a blessing.

Choosing a vet

Boy in Veterinarian's Office
Boy in Veterinarian's Office, Norman Rockwell.

Next on my list of things to do before bringing a dog home: Finding a local veterinarian. This one is also somewhat intimidating to me. I’m planning on asking friends with dogs who they’d recommend in the area, but beyond that, I’m curious what you think about how to go about this process.

What kinds of questions should I ask a prospective vet? What are some things to watch out for? How will I know to evaluate them if I don’t have a dog yet? Does anyone go to a vet who practices holistic or homeopathic medicine?

Still so many questions! And I’m, as always, grateful for your advice!