My dog is injured. Before I got into the long version of this, let me preface it with the happy ending: she seems to have had an allergic reaction to an insect bite, which caused her muzzle to swell up and itch badly, and she scratched herself so hard she ripped the skin off her nose. A decent vet - the **second ** one I saw today - gave her an antibiotic and some Benadryl and says she will be fine, but wants to see her again in a week to follow up. I’m to call if anything seems to worsen or if the swelling doesn’t go down considerably by tomorrow morning.
But the first vet I took her to… OY. My husband had taken her there last fall for a yearly checkup, because it’s within walking distance to our house. I liked our old vet, only a mile or two away, but technically, it’s his dog, so I went to his vet with her.
My dog is a Mastiff. She’s small (only 98 pounds) but still considerably larger than the average suburban dog. And she’s a dark brindle color, which makes her look vaguely dangerous. Plus, one should never ever take any kind of chances with either a strange dog, or an injured dog, and to this vet, she was both. I’m on board with that. So though I was dismayed, I did not object to the vet muzzling her for the exam.
Then he asked me to lift her onto the table. This is a five-year-old dog who has been to the vet routinely, and has NEVER been placed on a table. Let’s go back for a sec to the fact that this is a 98-pound dog. I’m 5’2" and weigh 107 pounds. Fortunately, my brother was with me, and he helped me lift her onto the table. "It’s easier for me this way, " the vet said. Easier to muzzle her and get me and my brother to lift her onto a table than to, oh, I dunno, bend over and look at her? She’s almost at eye level as it is! But, hey, you’re the vet. Whatever.
He gave her the most distracted, interrupted, WEIRD examination ever. It included rubbing a glass slide across the wound, poking her repeatedly in the nose, shaving her muzzle so he could look at the wound (this was after he’d rubbed a slide across it), spraying the wound with what I suppose was betadyne or something similar, and taking her temperature. All the while, he was babbling to me. Seriously, BABBLING. Like, he never completed a sentence, just threw out vague phrases. He asked me nothing about her. He did say “hmmm, this is hard, it’s been like this a long time.” I said, “No, this just happened today.” “No,” he said, “this is an older wound.” Um, no, this dog had her head in my lap at 2:30 today and it wasn’t there, and it’s 3:30 now and it is. It’s not an old wound.
“Well, maybe you just didn’t see it before.”
He suggested it was cancerous. Maybe necrotic. “You know,” he said, “Dead. It’ll get more swollen and then it will sort of… yes, Um. Do you have cats? Oh, maybe it’s a cat scratch” (my cats don’t have claws) “But yeah. Then the, you know, um, granulating tissue will come up from under. If it’s dead. I could do a CBC and a culture to find out.” I asked if it could be an insect bite or sting (some of you may recall that I mentioned in MPSIMS the other day that I have what appears to be a mosquito bite right now.) He said, “At this time of year? There are no insects.” I told him I have an insect bite. He suggested that “the circumstances in your house, I don’t know, you might have a brown recluse or something. So yeah, if it’s dead, then the skin will slough off…”
THEN he delievered this one: “I could give her amoxycillin, but that’s a really cheap antibiotic and she’s a really big dog. I need an idea of your budget here before I do anything, I don’t want you to end up with a $400 bill and not know it’s coming. You know, to do tests and everything, sometimes it ends up costing a lot. Or if you don’t want to spend the money I can just give her an antibiotic and then you have to bring her back every couple days, you know when the dead skin starts to fall off and the hair follicles will come off, too, you know?” I shit you not, every question I asked him about what might be wrong with my dog was answered with, “Well, I don’t know what kind of budget you’re on, I can’t really do anything until I know…”
REALLY long story made a lot shorter though not by any means actually short, I had a small tantrum, demanded the bill for the “services” thus far “rendered” and told him I was taking my dog to a vet with an actual clue. I managed with my brother’s help to get my poor dog off the table and the muzzle off her (which my brother threw on the floor. The vet is probably lucky my brother didn’t muzzle HIM.) I endured argument from the vet and from his assistant (who I think may have been his wife), both of whom repeatedly told me “We’ve been in this business for 33 years” and “well, it’s just that we don’t want you to get stuck with a big bill unless you know ahead of time,” and neither of whom would/could answer the simplest question about the dog! I paid the $98 bill, shaking from trying NOT lose my temper, and took the dog across town to the vet I take my cats to.
MY vet got down on the floor and cuddled the dog as she examined her. She looked at the wound, peeked into her ears, listened to her heart, felt her lymph glands and gave her treats all the while talking nicely, quietly and reassuringly to the dog and answering my questions. Ten minutes later I was out the door with a bottle of antibiotics, instructions to buy generic Benadryl (“it’s cheaper than what I can give you here and it’s the same thing”) a much-less-frightened dog (and a much-less-frightened ME) and the reassuring knowledge that it’s NOT necrotic or cancerous or otherwise dangerous.
NOW - I believe the bad vet is self-employed. I need to ask you Dopers: is there any kind of governing body or professional association that regulates/watchdogs (ha) veteranarians? I want to write a letter. (Well, I WANT to burn the bad vet’s office down, but that is just a violent, unproductive emotional urge that will pass.)