Friday, June 11, 2010

Veterinarians

I'm totally sick of today's vets running up the bill, and proposing needless tests. I will hesitate to get a dog again simply because of this behaviour. Is it even ethical?

I took our two dogs in for their annual check-up. Hero is 13, Jack may be 17, we can't be sure. I report that Jack is showing his years, slowing a bit, etc. He has always had more incidents of growling stomach, skipping breakfast, sometimes throwing up than Hero. I mention all this while saying I'm not sure it's really getting worse. The vet 1. tries to sell me diet supplements for Jack, such as I take as a runner, for arthritis symptoms--I haven't noticed any arthritis symptoms in either Jack or me; 2. recommends a blood test which I go for; 3. follows up on the blood test by saying there is some decrease in values having to do with kidney function; combined with vomiting, this may indicate a very early stage of kidney failure, cancer or leptosporosis. She recommends testing for all of these things, I talk to Laura and we opt for testing for none of them.

A 17-year-old dog? This is what all vets are like now. When Jack recently had his skin tag removed (something he'd had all his life), two different vets starting thinking out loud about sending it out for biopsy. One said: but I guess he had it all his life, so it's not likely to be malignant. The other said: even if it's something that's going to grow again, we'll just remove it again. So: there was no earthly reason to even consider a biopsy, they're just in the habit of recommending expensive stuff to see if owners will go for it. We went to a different set of vets that time partly to find more conservative/cheaper vets. Fat chance.

I looked an article on this from a few years ago in Slate.

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