Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pet Owners Beware--Pennypinching For "Free Advice" Will Only Break Your Heart Later

We all are guilty of it at some point......trying to get something for nothing. We try to do everything possible to avoid paying for something, when sometimes we really should.....And, where are pets are concerned you will only end up with a broken heart later....asking yourself "What could I have done to help my pet? Why didn't I do more for my pet"....Unfortunately, the main reason we don't is money.

But, even in these hard economic times--ask yourself is it that you really can't afford it or are choosing NOT TO afford it. I ask this because in the history of our holistic care business, we have never received more emails/phone calls/blog questions for free advice and then what's worse, is that most people don't even follow up on the advice.

No matter what way you analyze it...there is no substitute for the advice of a veterinary professional. When you pay for professional advice, that is what you get--someone who carefully assesses your individual situation and makes a determination about what is best for your pet. So, while it may be emotionally helpful to send emails, participate in pet health forums---they in no way should be confused with an office visit with a veterinarian and/or pet health care provider. And using a diet that a fellow forum member used for your pet or using supplements that helped the neighbor's pet can actually do more harm than good.

Why? Because most of the time, you are GUESSING based on your pet's symptoms about what is wrong and there is a very high likelihood you are incorrect. And....what's worse, is that the symptoms could be masking or disguising a serious health condition that only lab tests can reveal.

Here are just a few examples:

1) Owner emails us about a cat having IBD for 9 months.......the cat suffers while the owner tries to figure out how she can change the diet on her own. Finally comes in for a combination appt with me and Dr. Gordon and turns out the cat has severe infections in the gums/teeth so much so that several had to be removed which was explaining why the poor kitty was losing weight and not eating. Only then, after the surgery, could I address how to help her kitty's immune system and dietary needs--not before. It wasn't about food allergies--it was about having a severe infection.

2) Owner emails that her 9 year old dog is inappetant--what foods can she try? The dog comes in for an appointment and we unfortunately have to put her to sleep because she has a huge cancerous mass on her abdomen

3) Owner emails saying dog has pancreatitis and wants to know what else to add to the chicken/rice mixture and turns out dog has food allergies and is allergic to both chicken and rice!

What can we learn from this? The old adage "you get what you pay for" has never been more true. There are many reasons why a pet may display certain symptoms and trying to self-medicate and/or treat the pet based on emails, forums and exchanging ideas with friends is helpful--but please only do this AFTER you have spoken with a veterinary professional and obtained laboratory results.