The Doggie Diaries: Pippi’s Vexing Vet Visit


I'm one of those people who doesn't like doctors or pills. I am skeptical of MDs who reach for the prescription pad first and ask questions later. So far, it's worked out for me; I've found that most ailments clear up on their own.

I take the same approach with Pippi, our 10-month-old dalmatian mix. When Ben and I returned from our recent honeymoon, a vet visit was in order, as Pippi had somehow punctured her right front paw near one of her nails. We wanted our new vet -- whom we'd never visited, but who came recommended -- to check it out, and we also needed a fresh stash of heartworm pills and flea-and-tick preventative. I was hoping for the bedside manner of my childhood vet in Alabama.

I have never been made to feel so neglectful of my dog. Further, I was assaulted with unfounded recommendations for blood tests, prescriptions and medical-grade OTC products. And all this before the physical check-up even began! The vet acted as though a frightened Pippi had "behavioral issues," rather than recognizing how stressed out she was from the car ride, weighing, poking and prodding. This vet pointedly implied that we were not taking proper care of Pippi, since we clean her ears with a vinegar solution rather than the pharmacy-bought variety. (On inspection, however, she admitted that Pippi's ears were healthy and clear.)

This vet -- who will go unnamed -- proceeded to order up a blood test and a round of "preventive" lyme-disease treatment, until I successfully argued that Pippi had a 3-month-old, negative lyme-disease test, and no symptoms. We also butted heads when she insisted on an antibiotic for Pippi's paw puncture, which in truth was a little swollen. Still, her nail was intact and she was not limping, and so I put my foot down. We would bring Pippi back for an antibiotic if the wound began exhibiting symptoms of an infection, i.e. severe swelling, redness or fluid discharge, for instance. But antibiotics just for the heck of it? No, thanks.

Pippi and I emerged in one piece, but I was incensed at the vet's methods and her approach to me as a dog owner and new client. I question whether to take Pippi there again, considering how trying I found the experience. (One advantage: It's close.)

How about all you other dog owners out there? How are you treated by your vet? Have you found yourself advocating for less invasive veterinary care, or do you trust that the vet will gauge your concerns and what is best for your pet appropriately?


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