Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Pooches: How Do You Know When a Vet Visit is Necessary? And When is it Over-reacting?

When I first adopted Miss M, I was always so afraid that I was going to do something to accidentally 'break her'. Sure she was a solid, 70 lb pooch who survived the 'mean streets of Chicago',  but any slight scratch, over-sneezing, or scraped paw pads had me scurrying her over to the vet. And shuffling out with a huge vet bill. Which in the city will be at least $150+ after the exam fee plus any testing and/or medication.
Since then, I've realized our pooches aren't that fragile. They won't shatter. Most of our little scrapes can be healed with simple Neosporin. Miss M has sneezed for the past six years I've owned her...and she's still ok. And we've just gone to being preventative and using Musher's Paw on her feet when she'll be running on asphalt.
While we have reduced our vet visits to a degree, I still do find myself heading back to the vet for symptoms that may just be in my head. The time Miss M kept pawing at her face and I thought she might have glaucoma just because she's so bug-eyed. Taking our pooches in for bi-annual elderbull bloodwork. And checking out a lump we just discovered on Miss M"s tush (totally fine!).
Maybe it is just piece-of-mind. But it has become a very expensive piece-of-mind. 
How do you determine when it is necessary to visit the vet?

Also: The healthy diet we discovered that reduced even more vet visits.
Our take on pet health insurance.

14 comments:

Kerri said...

It's a fine line, to be sure. I'd hate to deny my furry friend the best treatment just because I'm low on cash. I've take my dog in for unexplained lameness (his kneecap popped out!) and for swollen eyes. I've avoided taking him to the vet to address itchiness, since a quick conversation with my dog food dealer helped me out - she said it was just ragweed season, since it always happens in August and goes away in the fall.

I don't have pet insurance, but I do stash away money each month in a dog fund, just in case.

Taylor G said...

Oh man. The first year with Mugsy sure was an expensive one. We call Mugsy our "bubble boy" and rightfully so. There was a span on 5 months where we went every month. The vet tech had the phone number memorized and just pick up and ask "what's wrong with Mugsy"?

Though we were justified in a lot of ou visits, some were reactionary and unnecessary. Now we stick to Bynodryl and neosporane to solve most of our issues. He is still ticking and if something doesn't seem to bother him we hold off on going to vet.

Rebelwerewolf said...

For small issues, we try to wait a couple of days to see if it gets better or worse. We still end up going to the vet pretty often, but after comparing vet bills with human doctor bills, we always walk out of the vet thankful that we don't have kids.

Sam said...

You know, after years of owning all kinds of animals (horses, goats, dogs, cats etc) I've developed a gut feeling about it all. I don't worry until my gut feeling worries - and sometimes, I get the bad feeling before any symptoms show up. Our vet is used to it - we haven't had any false alarms!

Sam

ohmelvin.com said...

Balancing this line is not easy and I liken it to having children. I'm perfectly comfortable saying I'll be fine, even when I know I have pneumonia however being responsible for another living creature, and keeping them living, often makes us (me) go to the vet to be sure it's ok. It's the validation that helps me sleep at night! Also, not sure if you were joking about the glaucoma part but I have thought the same aobut Melvin several times! Of course for him, it's always just allergies. Or so the vet says.

mayziegal said...

MayzieMom here. Man, this is tough! When we first got Ranger, our "first born" dog, it seems he was in the vet for one thing after another. We've gotten a little better but I probably still tend to overreact. It's just hard because they can't tell you how bad it is so you have to guess.

I was proud of myself last week, though. Took the dogs for a walk and about halfway through, something happened to Mayzie's foot. She sat down and started licking and biting at it. I thought it was a sticker but she wouldn't let me near it. She was seriously freaking and I ended up carrying her 40 pound self about 1/4 of a mile back to the car because she wouldn't walk. Got home and she wasn't putting any pressure on it, still biting at it, etc. I made the VERY difficult decision for me to wait and see what happened. Luckily, within a few hours, she was back to normal. Whew!

Now, I've learned that Mayzie is a very "delicate" dog who tends to be a bit of a drama queen when the slightest little thing happens. So we try to wait a bit with her. On the other hand, Ranger is TOUGH. So if he acts like he's in the tiniest bit of pain or discomfort, off to the vet we go because it's possible he's bleeding internally or has a broken bone. ;-)

Luv My Rosie said...

Rosie has a high pain tolerance and she obviously can't tell me when something is wrong. So, I usually let her "heal" herself first. If that doesn't work, a trip to the vet is in order just to make sure its nothing more serious.

Sarah said...

I discuss my concerns with the Hubster. He's much more level-headed than I am and when I'm over-reacting, he's usually right in saying so. There have been a few times where I made an appt anyway and he was right - I was over-reacting. :)

Usually we just tell each other to watch one of the dogs for whatever it is and if it doesn't go away in 48-72 hours, then we talk vet visit. The worst is when one of the dogs wheezes - it's a horrifying sound and I think allergies have been bad this season because all 3 have done it at one point or another. Makes my heart stop!

adorabully said...

My other half is my voice of reason. I would be at the vet every week with the 3 of mine if I didn't have him. I know we need to go when he says we need to go. When I first adopted Buddy he was a stick little baby. Worms, food allergies, skin issues. I almost went broke. The first time the boys got in a little fight I brought Buddy to the vet only to kick myself for paying $250 for them to say nothing is wrong, it's only a scrape. From then I've really taken a step back and tried home cures first. I have my doggie first aid kit at the ready. Pepto, anti-bacterial cream, benedryl, gauze, etc. I usually give myself 2 days of home cures before considering going to the vet. 99% of the time it works. When Devo wouldn't stop limping we took him in. He ended up having a torn CCL and needing surgery. When Bella snagged her tooth on Buddy's collar we took her in and she ended up needing it pulled. Besides that we just do regular well checks and a very limited ingredient diet.

Annie & Pauls Mom said...

We usually do our yearly vet visits, and not much else. (We're very lucky!). After the first time Paul had a very upset tummy, I found out about bland diet and just start feeding A&P bland as soon as they start showing signs of upset stomach. Otherwise, I try to get by some basic experiments like switching out the dog food Annie's allergic to and feeding a slightly more expensive type that doesn't have as many allergens. (She' not nearly as itchy). We use preventatives, like a heart worm pill and flea and tick repellent and getting their teeth cleaned. Otherwise, we tend to wait for lumps, bumps, and blood for vet visits.

Two French Bulldogs said...

You want to talk expensive, mom is up to $15,000 for my Lily. But we are like the kids of the house right
Benny & Lily

Kitty+Coco said...

Such a tough one. I tend to freak out over minor issues and the husband always wants to wait a day or two. After seeing my first dog go through a seizure disorder I have a hard time waiting. I will say that I had a gut feeling about Kitty having Glaucoma and insisted we go. She did have it and the Vet said it is virtually undetectable but somehow I just knew. All I know is that it is worth the bill to have peace of mind for my girls when I really think there is an issue. The last round of hives scared me because her eyes swelled shut. Yikes.

Life_With_Alfred said...

Working at a vet clinic for 8 years certainly helps my judgement of whether or not to make the trip (which is all the way to the burbs for us, so really takes some consideration). Definite causes for an immediate visit include vomiting AND diarrhea (not one or the other, unless it's excessive), or if they won't eat or drink for over 24 hours. Any other issues we usually wait up to a week to see if it clears up on its own, but if we don't see improvement or the problem gets worse we try to get them in ASAP. When in doubt, if you give your vet a call they can usually give you an idea of what needs immediate attention, and what might pass if you wait it out. Glad to hear the bump on Ms M's tush was nothing serious!

PoochesForPeace said...

Hmmm.. it's always tough to decide. Lumps that dont seem like just a bug bite make me feel like a vet trip is necessary. Cuts...not usually for us unless it seems like high risk for infection. Allergies always warrant a vet trip... it always just depends on the situation! I have found that I want to go more often than Chad feels the need to go. Maybe the motherly instinct?

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