Trust Is Relative
A client was referred for an abdominal ultrasound on her dog, which we shall call India. Our colleague was concerned about kidney disease.
A board-certified internist thought that the kidneys were within normal limits, but that the small intestine and bladder had a thickened wall. He therefore suggested GI and bladder biopsies. The client called her general practitioner.
The goal of the discussion was to confirm the need for biopsies. The dilemma was whether to perform GI endoscopy and cystoscopy, or a laparotomy. It seemed that laparotomy would be more affordable for this client.
So let’s think about it. The family vet went to vet school for eight years and has been in practice for 26 years. The internist went to vet school for eight years, did a one-year internship and a three-year internal medicine residency. He has been a vet for 23 years, and has been a diplomate for 14 years.
That’s almost 50 years of combined experience. That’s a lot of brain power, right? And the person doing the laparotomy would be yours truly, adding a few humble years’ worth of experience.
So what did the owner do next? Call to set up a consult with a board-certified surgeon?
Nope. She called her groomer.
I am perfectly aware that this blog may be considered very politically incorrect. I mean no disrespect to groomers, but I simply question the logic.
If your family physician and one (or two) specialists recommend a medical procedure, would you ask your hairdresser for advice? Oops, sorry! Again, I mean no disrespect to hairdressers.
We all have experienced completely irrational decisions made by pet owners:
“My neighbor said I could give Tylenol to my cat.”
“My brother-in-law told me he has given chocolate to his dog for years.”
“My husband doesn’t believe in leashes.”
“My breeder told me to feed this diet.”
“My wife thinks vaccines are the devil.”
And here’s my favorite one, which happened a few weeks ago. A referring vet had scheduled a TPLO on a large dog with a complete ACL tear. It was scheduled on a Monday. But over the weekend before that, the owner met “a guy” at a barbecue.
He told her that dogs don’t need their ACLs fixed. Since we always should trust complete strangers met at a barbecues, the owner canceled the TPLO.
But back to India. The rest of the story is actually a happy one. Turns out, the groomer actually knew me. I had performed surgery on her dog (incidentally, a TPLO) and she was pleased with the results.
India eventually had a laparotomy, thanks to her groomer’s advice.