Does Your Vet Give You Options?

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I was attracted to this story of a charity donating money for sick dogs’ treatment. But as I kept reading, I began to wonder whether the dog owners in the story were getting dishonest advice:

“Two weeks ago, a growth was found on the chest of Sara Polcari’s 6-year-old dog, Charlie.
Given Charlie’s history with cancer — he had one of his hind legs amputated in March to get rid of a tumor — the veterinarian recommended immediate surgery.
The timing couldn’t have been worse. Polcari had just been laid off from her job, and now she and her husband were looking at an $850 bill. She was also six months pregnant.
“It’s like, ‘What are we going to do? Now? Really? Of all times?’ ” Polcari said. “It’s really tough to meet our bills and to have this large amount of cost for Charlie coming up, it was just really unexpected.”

Just because Charlie had a history of cancer doesn’t mean that removing the growth was the only option. A simple sampling procedure ( fine needle aspirate) can often provide more information and distinguish between a cancer and a benign growth. And it costs under $100.

I don’t know the details of the case so my assumption may be wrong. But there is a very important point to be made here. The most expensive treatment option is usually not the only option and sometimes not even the best option. A veterinarian’s job is not to make the decisions for the owners but to provide options to help the owners make the decisions themselves, even if the Vet may think differently. After all, it’s not his/her dog!

Ask yourself, does your Vet give you options? Does he explain the pros and the cons of each option and then let’s you decide? If not, maybe you should be looking for a different Vet.

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About Dr Vadim Chelom

Dr Vadim Chelom is a Registered Veterinarian, a writer and an educator

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