I am strongly considering ending my 20-year relationship with my vet over this issue, but before I pull the plug, I wanted to poll all of you “smarter than me” folks.
So, I have used this vet for quite a long time. He owns the practice and is the sole vet there, but it’s a full-scale practice, with full surgery capabilities, in-house testing, etc. I like him because he’s obviously very knowledgeable, thorough, and he takes his own calls after hours; you pretty much have 24/7 access to him if needed. However, he seems quite expensive. If I take my animals in for anything other than annual checkups/vaccs, he ends up wanting to do every diagnostic test imaginable, including x-rays, and the next thing I know, I have a huge bill for what seems like overkill for the original presenting problem.
Case in point (and the visit which put me over the edge): A few weeks ago, my 8-month old lab mix came down with a case of diarrhea. It started on a Monday night, 6-8 liquid-stool events a day. I immediately switched her off dog food to bland meals of boiled chicken and white rice plus a Tbsp of pumpkin, 2x/day, and started her on some wormer. I observed each and every stool, they were never bloody or oddly colored. Her behavior remained completely normal all week, same (high) energy level, never lost her appetite, continued drinking normally, no pain anywhere (and I palpated her all over a few times). When it didn’t clear up after 4 days, I finally made an appointment to have her checked.
I was very clear with the vet tech when I scheduled the appointment, reporting her normal behaviors, no pain, etc.; literally the only thing “off” about her was this persistent, non-bloody diarrhea. So the vet took her inside for an exam and handed me an estimate bill for everything he wanted to do to rule out all possible causes. Full blood workup (including thyroid), x-rays, anti-nausea meds, injection antibiotic + take-home meds, two courses of wormer, pro-biotics to add to her food for the next month, plus a week’s worth of prescription canned food.
His proposed bill was just under $1200. For a case of diarrhea in an otherwise-healthy dog. :eek::eek::eek:
I told him no, there was no way I could do that. (I mean I COULD have, I do maintain emergency funds for this sort of thing, but I was not willing to deplete a big chunk of that for what did not feel like an emergency of that magnitude quite yet.) So he ended up just giving me the meds, with advice that we would have to do all the diagnostics if she wasn’t better within a week. I opted out of the canned food (which would have been $75 alone) to continue with the chicken and rice diet; the bill still ended up being over $400.
So I ended up withholding food from her entirely for 24 hours (on vet’s advice). I skipped the wormer (since I had already given her wormer earlier in the week), I did give the antibiotics. I gave her 2 small meals on Saturday (with added pro-biotics), and Sunday morning she pooped-- a normal, formed stool. And she has been normal ever since. That was a month ago.
I appreciate that the vet is thorough, but at what point is it overkill?? I feel like there were a lot of options that could have been explored before immediately going to $$$$ diagnostics, which is ALWAYS this vet’s first-line plan of action.
So I am genuinely asking-- am I nuts here? I feel enormously guilty considering dumping this vet, and part of me feels like a bad dog owner to place limits on my dogs’ medical needs. And maybe this is true of all good vets, in which case I may need to just suck it up.