Neuse River Golden Retiever Rescue
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Neuse River Golden Retiever Rescue

It's OK to Ask Questions

by User Not Found | Mar 17, 2012

Although I like to keep our annual trips to the vet uneventful, my dogs sometimes have other ideas.  This past weekend was one of those times.  I had planned to do some routine blood work on my 9 year old Gus.  Senior wellness is offered by most vets and it’s a good way to assess your dog’s overall health.  Thankfully Gus’s blood work was all within normal range, however his urinalysis indicated that he had an infection.  Now either Gus has a high pain tolerance or I had been missing the big signs...drinking extra water, peeing in the house.  Most likely, it’s the fact that most dogs don’t show symptoms of urinary tract infection.  Typically they are diagnosed in the winter, when you can actually see their yellow snow and other times when they pee in your house!  The good news is, this is all easily fixable.  Put said dog on antibiotic and poof, UTI disappears.  That all sounds simple enough, but I bet you didn’t know that the vet goes thru quite a quandary selecting an antibiotic for your particular dog.  They don’t pick the most expensive one just for fun…at least they shouldn’t.  It matters what kind of UTI they have, do they have crystals? Bacteria? Round bacteria or rod-shaped bacteria? White blood cells? Red blood cells? And so on.  Different kinds of bacteria respond to different kinds of antibiotics.  This little pill also has to make it all the way thru the system before it gets to the bladder, so we have to make sure that the medicine will be at ideal strength once it gets there.  It’s a lot to think about, but that’s why your vet went to vet school and that’s why he/she makes the big bucks.  In my case, it was also complicated by the fact that I have an 80lb dog.  Antibiotics at the right concentration are based on weight and the bigger the dog, the more you need.  My choices…..$100 or $70.  Ouch.   Luckily for me, in my day job I work with people who have no immune systems, which means they get all kinds weird bugs or bacterial or fungal infections.  In other words, microbiology is sort of a fun hobby for me.  And since I’m a scientist and in the medical field, I love to debate said issues….like $100 antibiotics.  My point is, its ok to ask questions.  Just because your vet tells you, hey this antibiotic is going to cost $100 bucks, doesn’t mean you don’t get to ask questions.  They are going to recommend the best medicine, that’s their job and that’s why you chose them, you want what’s best for your dog.  But it is ok and I strongly encourage you to be more active in your dog’s care.  I questioned the $100 antibiotic and the $70 antibiotic because number one, I thought it was an awfully expensive and number two, thought there might be a better alternative for a big dog.  And you know what, I was right.  You know what’s even better,  I got 14 days of an antibiotic for free. 

Potentially little known fact that can save you big bucks: Many human drugs are also used for our canine counterparts.  Not that you should ever go using these sorts of drugs on your dog without consulting a vet, but Gus is now on a human antibiotic to treat his UTI and it was free.  The great part about human drugs is that you can get them on many $4 prescription plans and most pharmacies will give you a discount if you aren’t using insurance to pay for your drugs.   In my case, this particular antibiotic was on a list of drugs that this pharmacy was offering a 14 day supply for free.  So there you have it.  To think I would have been paying $100 for something I got for free.   Trust me when I say that I spent a huge amount of money at the vet anyway, but at least I saved a bit of money in the end and of course Gus will get the treatment he needs.  Be involved, ask questions, it’s your job and you have a right to know what’s going on with your dog.  And if you feel like you don’t get your questions answered or they don’t have time to answer them, find another vet, someone you are comfortable with and that will give you that time. 

Now don’t go crazy with “Google” and diagnose your dog before you ever arrive at your appointment.   Read many articles, not just one and write down your questions for the vet because the internet can be a scary place.  Best idea, ask your friends.  You know they are all dog people anyway, so just ask and you might just be surprised about someone who knows someone whose  dog that happened to.  Real life experience can never be undervalued and dog people are always willing to help out.  Ask me!  I love this stuff.  I know my people at NRGRR are a bit like a cult (oh come on you know it’s true), you see another Golden, you just have to go over and pet him and then you end up talking to the owners and then the next time you see them, you have no idea what their names are, but you sure as heck remember the dog’s name.  Ask those people, I bet they know someone. =) 




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