Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Deciding It's Time to Switch Vets...

I like to think I've had great luck with vets. I've had some wonderful ones that were extremely thorough, kind, willing to answer my millions of questions, competent and affordable - these vets have come into my life for dogs, cats, iguanas and horses. Not only have I always had great vets, but I've also never felt any of my vets were pushing any unnecessary procedures on me.

That luck changed when I moved to the Washington, DC area. The first vet was horrible. Absolutely terrible. I then found another vet practice very near my house where I went for quite some time. At this vet they said I needed all sorts of unnecessary procedures, including putting Milly (a senior Golden) under for a teeth cleaning (and she has very mild tartar on one tooth)! Yes, tartar on only one tooth! Her teeth are pretty great for an 11 year old dog (I give credit to the weekly raw marrow bones she gets), and the vet wanted to put her under for a cleaning. I also wasn't sure about the way this vet was treating a mild urine crystal problem. I could not walk out of this vet without spending over $400 (even for just vaccines). I decided it was time for a second opinion and began asking around. I did a lot of research, and settled on a vet a little further from my home than the current one.

On Friday I took Milly and all of her records (vaccines, bloodwork, urinalysis, etc.) to Dr. Amy Poole at the Columbia Pike Animal Hospital. It was by far the best vet experience I have ever had. Dr. Poole sat with me and went over all of Milly's latest bloodwork (taken at our old vet), and explained what each results meant. Turns out some things they saw as problems (moderate urine crystals) were most likely caused by Milly not drinking much water. I had a gut feeling that was causing these crystals, and have been adding more water to her food at meals. Dr. Poole thought that was a great idea, and said we'll monitor these in the future, but this is not something that warrants complete bloodwork every 2-3 months like the last vet had said. Dr. Poole explained line by line what all of the results meant, and we noticed Milly's thyroid was a bit a low, and this is something we'll monitor in the future. We went ahead and did the vaccines Milly needed, after a long conversation about over vaccination and limited vaccines. The last vet had said Milly should be put under for a teeth cleaning, but Dr. Poole said her teeth looked great, and she would probably never need a cleaning in her life. She said if the weekly raw bones are working than I should keep feeding them. When it came to the physical exam she went over every inch of Milly's body and showed me where Milly is developing some mild arthritis (in her back), and explained the skeletal structure of the dog and why this is happening. I loved our visit! Dr. Poole drew diagrams for me, she explained everything, she answered all of my questions and was so welcoming and friendly.

Towards the end of our visit I said Milly might need her anal glands expressed, and Dr. Poole offered to show me how to do them myself! I was thrilled to learn, I know it's gross, and it smells terrible, but it will save me money, and it really isn't any worse than cleaning a horse's sheath (which I've done too many times to count).

It is a nice feeling to seek a second opinion, and find your gut was right. I am so happy with my decision to change vets. Not only are all of my questions now answered in total detail, but I also feel like I have a vet I can trust, and am no longer taking my dog to a clinic where I feel like they are doing unnecessary procedures to make money. I'm happy I followed my gut. I knew something was not right with the situation at our last vet, and I'm thrilled the second opinion verified my gut feeling.

I want to be an active dog owner and an active participant in my dog's life, and I feel with our new vet this is going to be so much easier.

On one final bonus, they happily price matched all medication (Frontline and Interceptor in Milly's case) with 1-800-PET-MEDS, though this is not an advertised service. Dr. Poole even told me I should ask for a price match!


  1. Hi,
    You know that was interesting. I never thought of asking for a price match at my vet. I have to admit I love my vet, so I'm lucky with that!
    Thanks, have a nice day!

  2. Sounds like a really good decision. We have heard some horror stories about vets in our area. We now really like our vet for Sierra Rose, but did not have such a good experience in the past with a different clinic.
    Best wishes!

    Hugs and snaggle-tooth kisses,
    Sierra Rose and mom

  3. You always MUST go with your gut when it comes to health - yours or your dog's. Sounds like you found a good match.

  4. I LOVE your opinion here. Mike spent about $250 at our first vet appt last week and I raked him over the coals because he over-spent on her Advantix by about $25!! Yikes!

    This post was great, BFF. XO

  5. Thanks for sharing your experience with veterinarians. It goes to show that it's good to get a second opinion, especially if something feels off. I think that's a good rule of thumb to have.