Pet Peeves… from a Vets’ perspective! by Dr. Sarah Martin

This may be a recurring topic for me. A forum to rant about some of the misconceptions held in veterinary medicine that have, I think, been propagated by well-meaning vets. Yes, us. How you ask? Well, we give you our clinical impression, we play the odds, we don’t like to charge you more money (really, we don’t!) and we don’t like to push.  Keep these points in mind. Here are my top 2 points:

During some of my wellness healthy pet appointments:

  1. Well, I was told the lump was nothing. We will just watch it. First of all, NO ONE can tell what a lump is by just feeling it! Yes, it may be a fatty lump or a sebaceous cyst but a fatty lump can feel just like a mast cell tumour- which is a cancer. Our clinical impression counts for a lot when evaluating common lumps and bumps, but more often than not we need to find out what cells are in the lump to tell you what it is exactly. And then whether or not it has to be removed and how aggressive the surgery needs to be. Playing the odds often works out, but not always. Ask yourself if you are ok with playing the odds. As a vet I try to treat every pet as I would my own, I would never hesitate to put a needle into a lump to know for sure!
  2. Yes doctor, his teeth are really bad but he/she is too old now to get them fixed. If you were 50, 60 or 70 years old and you had a rotten mouth and sore teeth would you want them fixed? True, there are some instances where we want to avoid an anesthesia but really, these instances are very, very few! 14 year old dogs, 17 year old cats – they benefit from good dental health! This is my final point: we (vets) don’t actually like to push. This is to the detriment of the health and comfort of many of our loved pets and family members. Maybe these older pets should have had 2 or 3 or 4 dental cleanings before they were 12. Maybe we should give every puppy an estimate for a lifetime of dental interventions, some of these pets may get their teeth brushed more regularly and some may have more dental procedures performed to keep them comfortable and pain-free. Just ask yourself: if I was an active 70 year old (medium sized dog = 12 yrs old or a 13 yr old cat) and I had a sore tooth, pus in my mouth, bad breath and a bleeding mouth, would I want it fixed?