But Doc, the Dog's Already Dead!

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Berserkershootfighter
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But Doc, the Dog's Already Dead!

Postby Berserkershootfighter » Mon Jun 08, 2009 9:44 am

This is good!

But Doc, the Dog's Already Dead!

How to say no to your vet.

By Emily Yoffe


Recently, my friend A's vigorous 10-year-old laika (a Russian breed whose name means "barker") woke up wheezing. She seemed fine the next morning when he went to work, but that afternoon he got a call from his mother, who had come over to let the dog out, telling him the dog seemed disoriented. He left work, arriving home about an hour later, to discover his pet on the floor of the bedroom, eyes open and fixed, body stiff. He picked the dog up, put her in the car, and drove to the vet. He ran in with the rigid dog over his shoulder and announced, "I think my dog is dead!" Everything stopped in the waiting room as the techs whisked the dog away.

Soon an employee emerged to explain it looked as if the dog had suffered a cardiac arrest. He also had a question: "Do you want us to do CPR?" All eyes turned to A, including those of the woman who had begun weeping in sympathy when A announced his dog had died. He realized he couldn't bring himself to say what he was thinking: "How much are you going to charge me to do CPR on my dead dog?" Instead, he told them to go ahead, and took a seat. Techs came out with periodic reports—neither heart massage nor drug infusion was generating any vital signs. "I wanted to say, 'That's because she's been dead for an hour,' " says A. Finally, they suggested the treatments should stop, and A agreed. They presented him with the bill. It turns out it costs $250 to try to revive a dead dog.

Two trends are making a visit to your veterinarian an opportunity for endless guilt. One is the increasing acceptance of the notion that pets are family members (thus the movement to change the word owner to guardian). The other is the convergence of veterinary and human medicine—pets can get chemotherapy, dialysis, organ transplants, hip replacement, and braces for their teeth. In 2004, Americans spent $18 billion to treat the country's 164 million dogs and cats. Sure, you may have a health-care directive that begs your loved one to pull the plug. Grandpa's hospital bed may have a flashing "Do Not Resuscitate" order. But how can anyone be heartless enough to refuse to treat their dead dog?


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In Sicko, Michael Moore indicts America's human health care, painting a portrait of a system so callous that the loss of life and limb is a matter of simple economic calculation. But in my experience, it's almost impossible to find a callous vet when you need one. Take what happened with my cat Sabra. At age 21—the equivalent of a 100-year-old human—Sabra was fading. She had stopped grooming and was barely eating. She spent her days curled in a chair, hissing occasionally like a deflating whoopee cushion. Instead of letting her go gently, of course I took her to the vet. The vet shook her head at Sabra's condition. She likely had cancer, kidney disease, multiple organ failure. All this would have to be sorted out through several days of rigorous testing. Instead of saying, "I'm going to take her home and let her deflate in peace," I handed her over.

As I left, I thought of my dear, departed grandmother. When she was 90, still lucid but in the hospital and facing the end, the doctors thought perhaps she had an undetected cancer. To confirm, the biopsy would have required anesthesia and a painful recovery. Everyone agreed to let it go. Sabra had no such luck. Two days and $800 worth of tests later, the vet couldn't find out what was wrong (besides the fact that she was 21) and said she was arranging a transport to a facility where Sabra could get an MRI. When I said I was coming to pick her up, the vet became hostile. "She might have a cancer we haven't found! She's not in good health!" said the vet. I returned Sabra to her chair, and she died a few months later.

I was left feeling the whole exercise was a way of shaming me into covering the overhead. But when I described what happened to Dr. Gerald Snyder, a Charlotte-based veterinary practice management consultant, he clarified the miscommunication for me. "The veterinarian is on the cat's side, not yours," he explained.

Dr. James Busby, a 67-year-old veterinarian in Bemidji, Minn., sees things differently. He's the kind of curmudgeonly realist of a vet you don't find in the hyper-attentive yuppie neighborhood where I live. Busby has become so fed up with his profession the he has self-published a book, How To Afford Veterinary Care Without Mortgaging the Kids. He writes that he has had a satisfying 40-year career, "but sadly, I would never enter the profession today, if I had to practice the way things are currently done." He sees too many vets who try to "push as many procedures and services … as the pet owner will tolerate, in order to generate as large a cash return as possible."

He cites the case of an elderly man who came to him for a second opinion about the lump that had been below the anus of his elderly terrier for a year. The previous vet had pressured the man into paying for $700 worth of tests to see if the lump was a sign of metastatic kidney cancer. It wasn't, which didn't stop the vet from recommending more tests. Busby concluded the lump was just one of those lumpy things that wasn't bothering the dog. But his larger issue is that before a vet goes off on a $700 search for metastatic kidney cancer in a 15-year-old dog, the vet should inform the owner that treating this disease would be a "quagmire"—an ordeal of pain and expense almost certain to end with a dead pet.

Busby also rails against the useless procedures foisted on healthy animals. Take yearly vaccinations. He writes, "[A]lmost all veterinarians insist on repeating these vaccinations over and over again throughout the life of the pet. Never forget how often they need to be given to you or your kids. ONCE!!!" Busby says that after the essential shots and boosters for puppies and kittens are completed, pets enjoy the same lifelong immunity humans do. (Legal requirements force more frequent rabies shots.) He points out unnecessary treatments are not necessarily benign because the treatments themselves can cause side effects. I know. My wonderful cat Shlomo died at age 16 because I followed the yearly vaccination recommendations. A component of the feline leukemia vaccine caused an injection-site cancer. (For a thorough discussion of the problem with pet overvaccination, see Index.)

At a continuing-education seminar Busby attended, he listened to a lecture by a vet on testing dogs for Lyme disease. He says routine use of the blood test is a waste of money because many healthy dogs, not in need of treatment, will be positive for Lyme exposure. Busby told me that at the lecture, the veterinarian started by saying there had been no confirmed cases of Lyme disease affecting a dog's kidneys. But when she got a positive Lyme test back, she went on to run a kidney-function test. "She was using a worthless test and then using it to treat for something that's never been diagnosed," he told me. "This is an Academy Award-winning way to gyp a client out of money!" He said one young vet told him she worked for a doctor who brought in $150,000 a year running Lyme tests. "That's one vet," he said. "It's a total rip-off!" (The effect of Lyme disease on dogs and their kidneys is an unsettled area of veterinary medicine, according to this report.)


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He also thinks "wellness exams" are all about improving the financial wellness of the provider. Busby says the best guideline for when to take your pet to the vet is when you can tell there's something wrong. But, with the same fervor displayed by the salesperson at the electronics store who encouraged me to buy the extended warranty on the clock radio, my local pet hospital has pushed me to sign up for its $440-a-year wellness plan, which will provide a full panoply of unnecessary vaccines, as well as dental cleaning, and twice yearly neurological, cardiac, pulmonary, blood, and fecal exams. Even in France, they don't do this for people.

At this point I should add that, in general, I hold the veterinary profession in high regard. Vets spend years and fortunes on their medical training, work like dogs, and end up getting groused at by clients and bitten by patients. I am grateful to the vets who saved the life of my beagle, Sasha, when she was hit by a car, and I quietly handed over my credit card when the bill for $2,000 came due (although I did manage to decline the offer of the special "orthopedic quality" fix of her injured ligament for an additional $1,500).

It's just that if we're coming to the point that we think of our pet's health in the same way we do our own, I wish the vets I see would treat my pets more the way our doctors treat us. For example, over the years the pediatrician has heard a mild heart murmur when she has examined my daughter. But since my daughter is obviously in excellent health, the pediatrician has reassured me it's nothing to worry about. But when the veterinarian detected a mild heart murmur in one of my cats, she immediately recommended I make an appointment with the veterinary cardiologist. What would happen to the cat if I didn't do that? I asked. She had to acknowledge: probably nothing, but the echocardiogram only cost $300, and since my cat was a member of my family, surely I would want to do everything.





After so many years I've come to the conclussion that most vets are thieves and con-men and because of this I've learned to take care and deal with most of my dogs ailments. Case in point,,,many years back a pup was brought into my Kennel and she was in early stages of Parvo as I later learned. I took the pup to the Vet,,,as I suspected the pup had parvo and that it would cost 800.+ dollars to "cure" this pup. I said no, just put the pup down and I would pay for that. They were appalled with my suggestion, I said I don't have that kind of money and the dogs not mine anyway. They tried and tried to get me to sign a payment agreement but I held my ground. I left there with the intention of putting the pup down myself but the owner started crying so hyterically,,well I didn't do. Against better judgement I brought the pup back home and isolated her, I started SQ fluids and I forced pedialyte and amoxicillin down the pups throat. Well, guess what,,,3 days later the pup was back to normal. Now, the treatment was the easy part,,,the pup had to be isolated for 3-4 weeks which was no easy feat,,,considering I had a litter on the ground at this same time. Well, now I know,,you can not cure parvo,just prevent dehydration, parvo is extremty contagious but if you can keep the pup hydrated and fight off possible infections you have a good chance of saving the pup. So, what did I learn,,never, never bring and unknown dog into your kennel, you never know what they are carring. Spray your kennel with 30:1 consentration of bleach and water monthly beginning in spring and most importantly I tell new puppy owners that vacinations are no guarenty the the pups will be protected. The best protection is leaving the pups on mothers milk for as long as possible. I've read lately that giving pups shot's to early is a waste of of money especially if your vet is charging 30-40 dollars per shot,,I pay about 1.50 per shot so I afford to waste a shot here and there. The best thing to do is keep your pup away from other dogs and try to walk where other dogs havn't been that is if you have to walk your dog. If you can manage to protect you dog for about 6 months,,they should be alright.

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Postby Brina Baby » Mon Jun 08, 2009 10:14 am

Great post. Makes you think doesn't it?

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Re:

Postby InBearsMemory » Mon Jun 08, 2009 10:47 am

Brina Baby wrote:Great post. Makes you think doesn't it?


x2
:bowdown:

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Re: But Doc, the Dog's Already Dead!

Postby Sailboat » Mon Jun 08, 2009 11:30 am

I guess I don't understand this part.

Berserkershootfighter wrote:Case in point,,,many years back a pup was brought into my Kennel and she was in early stages of Parvo as I later learned. I took the pup to the Vet,,,as I suspected the pup had parvo and that it would cost 800.+ dollars to "cure" this pup. I said no, just put the pup down and I would pay for that. They were appalled with my suggestion, I said I don't have that kind of money and the dogs not mine anyway. They tried and tried to get me to sign a payment agreement but I held my ground. I left there with the intention of putting the pup down myself but the owner started crying so hyterically,,well I didn't do. Against better judgement I brought the pup back home and isolated her, I started SQ fluids and I forced pedialyte and amoxicillin down the pups throat. Well, guess what,,,3 days later the pup was back to normal.


So the author doesn't own a puppy but tells the vet to put the puppy down over the objections of the owner? Then decides to do it herself over the objections of the owner? The relents, treats the pup, and discovers that the pup is all better in 3 days -- and uses this as an example of how the author is a better judge of dog illness than the vet, despite the apparent fact that the author was completely wrong?

Yeah, it's making me think.

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Postby 1lila1 » Mon Jun 08, 2009 12:14 pm

Sorry, but I don't think vets are all con men who try to take advantage of people. They are highly educated animal doctors who spend a lot of time and a lot of money to educate themselves enough to care for our pets. I know that if it wasn't for vets Lila wouldn't be with me today. They saved her life when she came down with a mysterious auto immune disease and started bleeding through the pores of her skin. They saved my old kitties life on two occasions. The even flew a specialist in from the University Vet school at no extra charge to me to help put his shattered jaw back together. I enjoyed many more years with him because of the work of vets.

Of course, there are good vets and not so good vets. As the dog's owner it is your responsibility to find a good vet whom you trust to take care of your animal and who you feel sets reasonable prices, not cheap, but reasonable. Medical treatments are expensive and it's not the vet alone who determines their prices. If you disagree with a decision or a recommendation, so be it. I have myself. But don't trash all vets and call them money grubbing con artists. That's just unreasonable. I'm glad there are veterinarians who I can rush to at a moments notice should one of my pets need them. Think of the alternative!

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Re: But Doc, the Dog's Already Dead!

Postby Berserkershootfighter » Mon Jun 08, 2009 12:25 pm

Sailboat wrote:I guess I don't understand this part.

Berserkershootfighter wrote:Case in point,,,many years back a pup was brought into my Kennel and she was in early stages of Parvo as I later learned. I took the pup to the Vet,,,as I suspected the pup had parvo and that it would cost 800.+ dollars to "cure" this pup. I said no, just put the pup down and I would pay for that. They were appalled with my suggestion, I said I don't have that kind of money and the dogs not mine anyway. They tried and tried to get me to sign a payment agreement but I held my ground. I left there with the intention of putting the pup down myself but the owner started crying so hyterically,,well I didn't do. Against better judgement I brought the pup back home and isolated her, I started SQ fluids and I forced pedialyte and amoxicillin down the pups throat. Well, guess what,,,3 days later the pup was back to normal.


So the author doesn't own a puppy but tells the vet to put the puppy down over the objections of the owner? Then decides to do it herself over the objections of the owner? The relents, treats the pup, and discovers that the pup is all better in 3 days -- and uses this as an example of how the author is a better judge of dog illness than the vet, despite the apparent fact that the author was completely wrong?

Yeah, it's making me think.

No I don't feel the author was wrong at all, She states against her better judgment she brought the pup back home , She states she had a litter on the ground. Parvo is unbelievably contagious, and deadly! she risked the lives of the other litter to save one, I'll say again ONE pup! She got extremely lucky and so did the pup, parvo has a high mortality rate! pretty much if a pup gets parvo its the beginning of the end, It cant be cured it has to run its coarse! Even with the vet doing God only knows for 800$ the pups chance is still slim to none! If you've ever experienced parvo and witnessed the suffering that go's along with it, I dont think you would be thinking like you do at the present time!
Also the author knew before she went to the vet that the pup had parvo all the vet did was confirm it and try to make 800$ off a sick and dying pup. In my opinion she was right on the money with the diagnosis(judgement) and treatment of the pup! The vet wouldn't have done any better of a job!

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Re:

Postby InBearsMemory » Mon Jun 08, 2009 12:44 pm

1lila1 wrote:Sorry, but I don't think vets are all con men who try to take advantage of people. They are highly educated animal doctors who spend a lot of time and a lot of money to educate themselves enough to care for our pets. I know that if it wasn't for vets Lila wouldn't be with me today. They saved her life when she came down with a mysterious auto immune disease and started bleeding through the pores of her skin. They saved my old kitties life on two occasions. The even flew a specialist in from the University Vet school at no extra charge to me to help put his shattered jaw back together. I enjoyed many more years with him because of the work of vets.

Of course, there are good vets and not so good vets. As the dog's owner it is your responsibility to find a good vet whom you trust to take care of your animal and who you feel sets reasonable prices, not cheap, but reasonable. Medical treatments are expensive and it's not the vet alone who determines their prices. If you disagree with a decision or a recommendation, so be it. I have myself. But don't trash all vets and call them money grubbing con artists. That's just unreasonable. I'm glad there are veterinarians who I can rush to at a moments notice should one of my pets need them. Think of the alternative!


You are absolutely right. There are good vets and bad vets but the first category can be very difficult to find! Since I have owned dogs I have encountered a good dozen vets but out of those only 1 was what I would call good. Hands down, most vets are there to make the most amount of money of you because they know most people will pay it. When was the last time your vet gave you a prescription for your dog/cat and told you to go buy it from a wholesaler such as KVVetsupply because it was 50 bucks cheaper?
It's not so bad if you are in a large city with a bunch of vets to choose from but if you are in a smaller town such as where I am currently located with a single vet you will quickly find out how stressful it can be dealing with a bad vet.

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Postby Brina Baby » Mon Jun 08, 2009 12:48 pm

I do think that some vet expenses can become very outrageous.

We go in for our yearly appointments and we treat the dogs monthly for fleas/ticks, heartworm, etc. We understand the expenses of that - however some of the stuff that vets "require" do start to get a little ridiculous.

In the situation of the pup with Parvo - I've experienced one time a pup with Parvo and the pup didn't make it. It was a horrible thing to see - I don't know if I would make a much more different call from the author about putting a pup with Parvo down.

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Postby Berserkershootfighter » Mon Jun 08, 2009 12:57 pm

1lila1 wrote:Sorry, but I don't think vets are all con men who try to take advantage of people.

You are right, not all vets are like that, but through my experience MOST are! Especially where there's competition for business usually in an urban environment! When ever I was asked as a kid, What ya gonna be when you grow up my answer was always a veterinarian! I didn't know what I was gonna turn out to be was a FELON on parole! Id be a vet by now if I didnt take my dog back from the animal control 10 years ago (Actually I kinda am with no licence tho) lol For real, Its somethin that captured my imagination since I was just a little thug!
I'll tell ya what tho I would have been the cheapest most none money makin vet ever! livin in a trailer drivin a pinto, a pets and people first kinda animal doctor!
I know theres vets out there like that , ones that bend over backwards for a sick or injured animal, but there few and far between!

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Postby Berserkershootfighter » Mon Jun 08, 2009 1:12 pm

I knew I should have previewed my post
Correction- ESPECIALLY WHERE THERE'S NO COMPETITION USUALLY IN A RURAL ENVIRONMENT
I wish there where an edit button.

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Re:

Postby 1lila1 » Mon Jun 08, 2009 1:52 pm

InBearsMemory wrote: You are absolutely right. There are good vets and bad vets but the first category can be very difficult to find! Since I have owned dogs I have encountered a good dozen vets but out of those only 1 was what I would call good. Hands down, most vets are there to make the most amount of money of you because they know most people will pay it. When was the last time your vet gave you a prescription for your dog/cat and told you to go buy it from a wholesaler such as KVVetsupply because it was 50 bucks cheaper?
It's not so bad if you are in a large city with a bunch of vets to choose from but if you are in a smaller town such as where I am currently located with a single vet you will quickly find out how stressful it can be dealing with a bad vet.


I can understand the frustration with a particular vet but the article seemed to paint all vets with a very broad brush. I've had experience with many vets and only one was what I would consider a bad one. At my current vet they actually told me I didn't need heartworm preventative, told me my indoor cats didn't really need a rabies vac (still mulling this one over!), told me to buy my glucosamine from Costco instead of an Rx, helped me set up a home nebulizer for my rats at a fraction of the cost of treating them at the clinic, and are not at all what I would call "money grubbing". And they are not a cheap practice.

Just because there is only one vet for miles around and it happens to be a bad one doesn't mean that they are all like that. Maybe the article was more of a rant than anything else but I just didn't find it reasonable at all.

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Postby tiva » Mon Jun 08, 2009 3:43 pm

Please give the full citation when you post another author's article, and please make it clear what is your writing and what is the author's.

The Emily Yoffe article is from Slate Magazine, Oct 25 2007 (http://www.slate.com/id/2176521). The last paragraph of the first post (the paragraph filled with grammatical errors, concerning parvo) is NOT from Yoffe's article.

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Postby Berserkershootfighter » Mon Jun 08, 2009 5:46 pm

Your absolutly right The last paragraph isnt from Emily Yoffe it was a cross post, my bad! I just copied and pasted, the last part is not from me tho! Anyways Its still food for thought and a pretty good topic if ya ask me.

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Postby Berserkershootfighter » Mon Jun 08, 2009 5:49 pm

Maybe a mod can fix it so there's no more misunderstanding

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Postby PitFriend » Mon Jun 08, 2009 6:21 pm

tiva wrote:Please give the full citation when you post another author's article, and please make it clear what is your writing and what is the author's.

The Emily Yoffe article is from Slate Magazine, Oct 25 2007 (http://www.slate.com/id/2176521). The last paragraph of the first post (the paragraph filled with grammatical errors, concerning parvo) is NOT from Yoffe's article.


Thanks for clearing that up, I knew she was a better writer than that. lol


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