Seven hundred and eight dollars later. . .
Yes. That’s over seven hundred bucks. So much for the Month of Extreme Frugality. How laughable.
Yesterday I took the dog to a new veterinarian, not feeling at all satisfied with what I got for $430 from my regular vet. When I took her to the the latter vet late last month because she stank so violently you couldn’t stay in the same room with her, he said she had a vaginal infection and gave me a bottle of antibiotic pills and a tube of antibiotic ointment, with instructions to smear it on her nether parts (at great risk to life and limb, we might add). This was a week after he saw her for restlessness and hyperventilation and gave her a cortisone shot to quiet her down. Shortly after I got her home, I found a large lesion on her leg. He-or rather, one of his staff-said he had seen it, it was a pressure sore, and I should put the ointment on that, too.
The sore didn’t get any better, and neither did the stink, to speak of. They charged me another fifty bucks for a second round of antibiotics. On my own, I tried myconozale, which helped a little; the problem was, I couldn’t get the stuff on the dog because she threatens to bite me every time I try to apply anything to the affected area. She has to be muzzled, wrestled down, held down, and medicated. It’s no small trick to do that once, much less several times a day, and I am not of an age to be wrestling on the floor with a ninety-pound dog!
Meanwhile, when I called back about the leg sore, the same unhelpful and vaguely rude staff lady proposed, with a straight face, that I lock her in “a small room” where the floor is padded with several layers of comforters. Well, the only such room in this house is the bathroom where the only truly functional toilet resides. The door opens inward. You can’t pad the floor where the door swings. So I had to drag the dog into the bathroom and then barricade the entrance to the bathroom with a couple of dining room chairs. A German shepherd has no problem moving a couple of chairs out of its way. So I had literally to barricade the door with several dining room chairs, jamming them into the hallway so she couldn’t budge them. As you can imagine, this was not very good for the chairs, my back, or the dog. The only other way to keep her on a padded floor is to tie her to a doorknob and spread the comforters, several layers deep, over an area too large for her to escape.
Neither of these strategies was any too practical.
I also very much doubted that the sore was a pressure sore, because the dog is too active for such a thing to have developed. She’s in motion much of the time and never lies still longer than about four or five hours. I know: that’s about as long as she will allow me to sleep for any given stretch. It’s the wee hours right now, and we’re up.
So I decided to try a friend’s vet.
Well, the place was very impressive-and much, much closer to home. It’s clean, with absolutely no typical veterinary odor. Very spacious and shiny, with several vets and at least a half-dozen staffers that I could see. Meaning, of course, that the practice is cranking the bucks.
Lots of brochures laying around detailing all the expensive things you can do to/for your dog. The basic “senior well dog” checkup is $275, and that’s a fishing expedition that looks for chronic ailments to treat for the rest of the animal’s life. Onward.
The vet was a young woman, very smart. I overwhelmed her with two pages of the dog’s symptoms and four questions:
- What is the sore on her leg?
- What can be done about the vaginitis?
- Why does she pant and hyperventilate constantly?
- Can she be treated in a reasonable way that does not drive me to wacky behavior like tying the dog to doorknobs and barricading the bathroom with the dining-room furniture?
She examined the dog, shaved the hair off around the irritated rear end, and, having learned to her surprise that the other vet had not done a culture on the diseased area, swabbed up a sample for culturing in a lab. After this, she opined that the lesion is not a pressure sore, because it’s not in an area where a bony prominence comes in contact with the floor and it does not look like a pressure sore. She thinks it’s a hot spot, probably brought on by an insect or spider bite. About the infection, she thinks the dog is in a great deal of pain.
About the heavy breathing, she noted the dog’s nasal secretions are bloody and said she may have a tumor, an expensive item to diagnose and treat. To find out whether she does have nasal cancer, which as it develops is pretty likely, will require a $300 X-ray. If that is positive, the dog will have to be put down.
(As I write this, ominously enough, no air is flowing through the dog’s nose and she’s breathing, loudly, through her mouth.)
The vet then gave me four different medications: a spray, fistfuls of medicated wipes, goop for her rear end, and goop for the sore. She recommended I continue the antibiotics I have until she can get the results of the lab test back, at which time she probably will recommend some other $50 antibiotic. So at this time, the dog is supposed to get FOURTEEN DOSES OF MEDS A DAY. She did, at least, say it is unnecessary to try to force the dog to stay on pads, so I can leave off that aspect of the wacky behavior. IMHO, medicating a dog 14 times a day is quite wacky enough.
At any rate, she charged $278 for all this.
Compared with the other vet’s bill, it seemed like a bargain. Consider:
Vet 1: $430
Services and products:
cortisone shot for agitation
2 bottles of antibiotics
1 tube of ear ointment
not so much as a clue about the leg sore
absurd recommendation for management of leg sore
Vet 2: $278
Services and products:
shaved hair from affected area, allowing access for medicating
lab culture and test
ointment for leg sore
pain-killer for vaginal infection
spray-on antifungal for vaginal infection
antifungal, antiseptic wipes for vaginal infection
consulted at length and made more or less rational recommendations
I said I suspected the dog really does not need Soloxine, because at the time the other vet put her on it, she had no visible symptoms of thyroid dysfunction and because I had learned that hypothyroidism is the most overdiagnosed ailment in veterinary medicine. She said the only way to tell is more bloodwork: $125. To test for thyroid function in the presence of Soloxine, you have to test about 5 hours after the drug has been administered. Since I dose Anna at 6:00 a.m. and it was by then after 3:00 p.m., that scheme was obviated. I’ll have to bring her back another time to find out if she really needs thyroid pills. But first we probably should find out if she has a tumor in her nose, a situation that would do some more obviating.
When I got the dog home, I could not get her out of the car. She couldn’t stand up. She’d jammed herself up against the driver’s seat so that she couldn’t get enough purchase to pull her weakened hindquarters off the floor, and she threatened to bite me when I tried to help her get upright. It looked for a while like I was going to have to drive her back to the vet and have them put her down, right then and there. Finally I pulled the car into the garage and just left her there with the door open and the lights merrily running the battery down. After a half-hour or forty minutes, she managed to get herself up and out of the vehicle.
The four Benadryl I walloped her with an hour ago have finally taken effect. She’s out cold on the floor. On a positive note, she’s now breathing through her nose (more or less), which she was unable to do when she woke me with the steam-engine sound effects. So maybe the nasal problem is just allergies. Probably not, though. You don’t get a bloody discharge from allergies.
My head hurts, my neck hurts, my back aches, my iced tea has gone warm, and even our pet house fly is asleep. Now that it’s quiet, I’m going back to bed.
Month of Extreme Frugality, indeed!
2Commentsleft on iWeb site:
Gasp!Have you asked the veterinarians to treat your pooch “pro bono?”I watched a Hollywood TV show, All Things Large and Small, that portrayed veterinarians as compassionate, caring, green-minded people, generous with their time and money.
Thursday, May 15, 2008 – 07:15 AM
Isn’t that the loveliest program? You know, it’s based on a series of semiautobiographical books whose author was an English veterinarian. Each of them is equally delightful.
Veterinarians are compassionate and caring people. But compassionate and caring people have to eat, too. Veterinary school is said to be more difficult to get into than medical school, and the course of studies is extremely challenging. After one of these very bright young people graduates, she or he goes into the business of veterinary care, which IS a business, not a hobby or a charity.
Veterinarians are not in business to give away their skills. They’re in business to make a living. Given how hard they have to work to acquire their skills, they rightly expect to make a good living. Many vets, however, earn only a middle-class income; it’s a lot less profitable than you would think.
Compared to what Vet #1 charged, I felt Vet #2’s fee was pretty reasonable: she devoted a lot of time to examining the dog and talking with me in detail, she provided more medications, and those medications appear to be more specific to the ailments at hand. And she did not leave me in the dark, wondering what is wrong and whether it can be treated at all.
Am I willing to pay $300 to have a 13-year-old German shepherd’s skull X-rayed? The jury is still out on that one. Since I’ve already spent more than half (!!) of this month’s disposable income on the dog, it will have to wait until another couple of paychecks come in, so there’s plenty of time to make a decision.
And at the rate the poor old gal is going, she may not last that long. She has a tough time dragging her crippled hindquarters off the floor, and so frankly, I suspect the end is in sight.
Thursday, May 15, 2008 – 09:06 AM