Would you go back to this Veterinarian?

I took my pooch to the vet yesterday for his annual check-up and to get his heartworm medication refilled. He also had developed a “hot spot” on his shoulder, apparently where he got a minor cut when he was groomed two days prior (my dog is a long-hair breed that has to be clipped regularly or else his hair mats and gets really gross). He was licking “hot spot” constantly, causing the hair to fall out and inflaming the surrounding skin.

As we recently moved from out-of-state (US), I had his complete vet records from the old vet. These records showed that had been vaccinated against rabies in August 2013 (due in August 2016) and DHLPP (commonly known as Distemper vaccine) in August 2014, due in 2017.

Well, the vet proceeded to explain to me that they recommend rabies and distemper vaccines to be administered annually. I told him that I thought that since these vaccines had been shown to be effective for 3 years that the laws had changed and now only required vaccination every 3 years. The vet told me that the laws had been changed in several states (not mentioning any specifically, particularly not mentioning the laws of the state he was licensed to practice in), but he felt that annual vaccines were best, since it was easier (?) to keep up with the vaccination schedule that way. I ended up saying go ahead, since the rabies was nearly two years gone anyway.

I asked him about the heartworm meds and he told me I could get them on the way out. He examined the “hot spot”, furnished me with tablets and medication for it. I mentioned during the exam that it looked like the pooch would have to be wearing the “Cone of Shame” for a while, but surprisingly, the vet did not say one should be used nor did he try and sell me one.

When I checked out, I asked about the heartworm meds and the lady at the desk told me my options. Now, my wife is very particular about just about anything that goes in this dog’s mouth, and heartworm medication is no exception. She will only accept one kind (it seems there are two major types on the market and she will not use one of them as the other type has been known to make dogs sick(?)). Well, the type approved by wife was not sold by the Vet’s office. I then asked if I could get a prescription and was told that there would be a $10 prescription fee! I understand the vet has many reasons to want his clients to buy their meds from him (and they may not all be just to bleed them for as much money as they can), but charging a $10 fee to write a prescription after examining the animal seems to me to be out of line.

After returning home, I surfed the web and found that in this state, all dogs must have a current vaccination for rabies and dogs from out of state must be vaccinated within 6 months of arriving in the state. I also found out that the state only requires rabies vaccine at 3 months, one year, and every three years after that (same as the state we moved from). I could not find out what the state requirements are for distemper, but I was satisfied that this vet was not knowledgeable on what the requirements actually were, or, if he was, he did not speak straight about the requirements.

So, as I mentioned in my title, for those who have dogs, would you return to this vet for a second visit? Secondarily, would the $10 prescription fee seem right?

The prescription fee seems OK, and it wouldn’t be my main issue. The fact that the doctor was pushing for vaccines when he (if he had been a recent-ish graduate) should know better than to do that, would worry me more, as a veterinarian. As well, if he was interested in a thorough vaccination status, he should check his state to see the regional vaccine recommendations (Lyme disease, leptospirosis), and talk to you about the dog’s lifestyle (boards frequently, perhaps a Bordatella vaccine).

Seriously, the talk about vaccination bothers me the most. If the practitioner wants to keep having an annual exam (which the dog should have!!!), pushing vaccinations is not the way to go about it.

If you aren’t comfortable, as you seem to be, why would you? There are many vets in any given city. Find another.

Show and other valuable dogs are often vaccinated by titration - the actual antibody levels in the blood are measured, and then a calibrated vaccination is given if needed. (And the lab/vet certify that the animal is adequately vaccinated rather than just sign off on a shot form.) Some dogs can go years without needing additional vaccinations. I don’t go to that level, but I do trust that the 3-year vax is good for that period.

I should add that none of my dogs has ever come up autistic. :slight_smile:

I’m not doubting you, but what’s the point of doing that? Even people aren’t vaccinated like that.

Maybe I’m misreading this (emphasis added) - but if you just moved from out-of-state, it sounds like you were required to do the rabies vaccination? Or does your state accept proof of vaccination from an OOS vet?

Avoids overdosing and possible problems from too-frequent vaxes. Very few people are vaccinated every year the way animals are, so there’s more potential for reactions and other issues. When you’re talking about a high-end show or breeding dog, it’s a small caution to take.

Yes, according to how I interpreted what read. That is what bothers me, a bit. The vet did not tell me that I needed the rabies vaccine because I was from out of state, but that it had been over a year since my pooch had had his a rabies vaccine. A state law that requires a rabies vaccine within 6 months of arrival I can accept (that is within the state’s responsibility to its residents, I guess), but I think the vet should have told me about that.

He did mention titration to determine the effectiveness of the vaccine, but that it was cheaper to just give the dog a rabies shot every year. I truly believe in vaccination, but I really am against over-vaccination.

And, yes my pooch also gets Bordetella vaccine every 6 months (if he gets boarded) and the regional Distemper cocktail, which I believe includes leptospirosis.

I must admit, though, making a charge for writing a prescription puts me off. I mean, I understand the need for the government to control the distribution of drugs though prescriptions, and the need for an examination by a doctor to make sure the prescription is appropriate, but shouldn’t the cost of the exam be enough?

I would be slightly put off by the pettiness of the fee and the rabies vaccination situation. Since you don’t yet have an established relationship with the vet and compelling reason not to shop around, I’d start asking other locals for recommendations.

I would not personally care about a vet’s knowledge of regulations which are seldom enforced and are of little health consequence – there is basically no risk your vaccinated dog will get rabies without yearly boosters. I’d be more concerned about them not going over potential need for other more important vaccinations.

I do get titrations done for my dog (he has had some seizures and is elderly, so I prefer not to stress his immune system unnecessarily) and it is quite expensive compared to just vaccinating. At least he did not try to steer you toward the expensive and unnecessary option, but did acknowledge that you could do it, so that is a big point in his favor.

Again, as a veterinarian, who graduated recent(-ish), I can tell you that, barring cats and dogs getting a specific type of one-year vaccine, dogs do not need yearly vaccines of rabies and DHLPP. If they need the rabies vaccine earlier, it may be due to travel/state regulations, not because of vaccine effectiveness. Now, vaccines such as those against Bordatella and Leptospira do need to be given more frequently. Seriously, dogs and cats do not need to be vaccinated yearly after the initial series. This is the current “how veterinary students are trained” way.

The fact that the veterinarian pushed for yearly vaccines to me reflects two things: either the veterinarian is trying to promote yearly check ups with vaccines as a way to boost income, which is also not what is being currently taught, or it keeps up with the old (over ten years old) mantra of “vaccinate yearly”, in which case, I wonder in what else is the vet keeping with old techniques instead of those of a more modern practice.

I like to feel comfortable talking frankly with my doctors, and expect them to respond similarly. You clearly did not feel any rapport with this vet. Unless he is much more convenient than other vets, I would shop around.

We have three nearby vets. One is a large, convenient practice that routinely recommends excessive treatment (for example, exploratory surgery for an elderly cat who probably had lymphoma). Another has extremely limited hours. The third is a one-man shop with so-so hours, but the vet has a lot of insight into the social lives of cats, and seems very concerned about their happiness and well-being. Guess which one we take the cats to?

Our cats get rabies vaccine every three years.