How to Talk to Your Vet

Listen to “How to Talk to Your Vet” on Spreaker.

First and foremost I think it is our responsibility as pet parents to be advocates for our pet’s wellbeing and to be the leader of their healthcare team. But, this can be a very scary thing, especially when you are just starting out on your journey of natural pet care. Having a vet disagree with you and tell you that you are wrong or even that you are harming your pet can make people second guess themselves and even give up raw feeding or alternative medicines altogether.

Unfortunately, many people do not have access to integrative or holistic veterinary practitioners, so today I am going to help you figure out how to find the best vet you can in your area, and how to be an effective advocate for your pet’s wellbeing.

How to be an Advocate for Your Pet

1. Find a veterinarian who is open-minded and is willing to be a part of your pet’s healthcare team. I stress the word team here because you want a veterinarian who understands that you are also a part of that team and that you will ultimately make the decisions on what is best for you pet.

  • Know that, in reality, you are paying your veterinarian for a service. If you are not happy with their service you have the right to take your pet elsewheres.
  • Call around to vet clinics and ask them what their policy on raw feeding, titer testing, and alternative medicine is. If they have no idea what you are talking about they may not be the best option… If they are your only option, come to your visits prepared with research and articles that you can leave with your vet.
  • If you have a few options on clinics you think might be a good fit, go and have interview appointments!
    • Book an appointment (you will likely have to pay an exam fee for this) and do not even bring your dog… Go prepared with confidence and research and talk to the vets.
      • Bring them coffee, set up a positive relationship with them and show them that you are not a crazy person! You are a concerned and educated pet parent who wants the best for their pet and you intend to take a leadership role in their health care.

Note: If you have NO options in your area for supportive or even open-minded veterinarians, know that many holistic veterinarians will do phone or Skype consultations.

  • If/when you do need to bring your pet into the vet’s office be prepared and be on guard (while still be pleasant). Later on, I’m going to give you my real life examples of how I was pleasant but still firm in my beliefs when bringing my pet’s into a conventional vet clinic during medical emergencies.

2. Establish clear guidelines for your vet and veterinary staff.

Have your wishes stapled to the front of your file. The following are examples of some of the things I have written in my pet’s medical files and in their care book (that travels with them if they are not with me). 

  • “ No vaccines, drugs, or procedures without owner’s written consent”
  • If anesthesia must be given to my pet it will be propofol or equivalent and never ketamine
  • Before antibiotics are given a culture and sensitivity test must be done

*Also, have these guidelines left with any pet sitters or daycare facilities that you leave your pet with when you go on vacation and make sure they are comfortable being advocates for your pet. I also find it helpful to have a designated emergency contact of someone who is available to go to the vet in case of an emergency and be with your pet and oversee their care.

3. Stand Your Ground & Be Prepared

Even at an integrative veterinary clinic, there may be something that is recommended for your pet that you do not agree with. That is okay. You know your pet best.

If you don’t agree with a treatment being suggested, ask for alternatives, if there are no alternatives -which is rarely the case- ask for the procedure to be explained fully to you with the full list of risks and potential side effects. If you are not at peace with that recommendation (and it is not a life threatening situation),  get a second opinion!

  • If it is an emergency, start researching (or ideally, be prepared with) what holistic modalities you can use to support your pet in conjunction with conventional treatment.
    • Eg. Homeopathy, acupuncture, chiropractics, back flower remedies, and herbs.

My Experience Advocating for My Pets 
I have two examples to show you how I have advocated for my pets in the past when I haven’t been able to get them in to see our regular integrative veterinarian. This is why I think being prepared to advocate for your pet’s is so important because injuries and emergencies happen (and at least for me they always seem to happen late at night or on the weekend).

  • PS If you are in the Edmonton area I highly recommend the Edmonton Holistic Veterinary Clinic. However, even if you do go there you still want to remain the leader of your pet’s healthcare team.

Allie’s Story

  • Late Friday night Allie stops weight bearing on her left rear leg
  • I wait until Saturday morning, giving homeopathics & herbs for pain relief
  • Still not weight bearing by Saturday afternoon
  • Take her to conventional vet to have the leg checked for breaks, dislocation, or CCL ruptures.
  • Exam is clear. Vet recommends NSAIDs. I politely decline. Vet is confused.
  • I take Allie to our regular holistic vet on Monday morning and her says her pelvis has shifted slightly, gives her a chiropractic adjustment and does some acupuncture and she walks out of the clinic on all four legs good as new!

Bob’s Story

  • Bob our neutered male cat starts starts dribbling pee & blood early Sunday morning
  • I give homeopathics & herbs for pain but he is not improving
  • In a few hours he is not peeing at all when he strains
  • Knowing blockages in male cats can be life threatening I take him to the nearest emergency vet
  • They recommend catheterizing him overnight. I ask that they catheterize him for a few hours and then remove the catheter so I can take him home overnight (the longer a catheter is in the more scar tissue it can create).
  • They recommend starting him on a urinary diet immediately. I decline and ask for a urinalysis.
  • It comes back at 6 on the pH scale (aka perfect) and with no signs of stones or crystals
  • I have a discussion with the discharging vet about my plan of actions (ie take Bob to our regular holistic vet in the morning, homeopathics, herbs, and acupuncture & chiropractors). He very honestly tells me that ⅔ cats that he sees re-block within a year and that he cannot stop this from happening. He wishes me luck with our holistic approach.
  • I take Bob to the holistic vet in the morning, the vet manually expresses his bladder which was about ½  full and then starts his acupuncture. He realizes that Bob’s back muscles are spasming (likely from being stepped on by the very jumpy foster dog we had at the time) and prescribes a Saw Palmetto tincture and sends us home with instructions to come back if Bob continues to have problems peeing. Bob beings to use his litter box again (he had been dribbling on the floor previously) and returns to normal within a few days.
    • He also noticed that Bob (who is a small cat at only 6 lbs) has an extremely small urethra *likely from being neutered very young- I adopted him when he was 1.5 years old. 
  • This happened almost 3 years ago and he has had no blockage issues since.

 

Hopefully you found this helpful and feel more confident about being your pet’s healthcare advocate!

 _____
Disclaimer:
The contents of this blog, such as text, graphics, images, and other material contained on this site (“Content”) are for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. Never disregard professional advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website!
If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately. Reliance on any information appearing on this website is entirely at your own risk. If you have medical concerns or need advice, please seek out your closest holistic or integrative veterinarian. Not sure where to find one? Check here: http://www.ahvma.org

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