I’m pretty good with making sure that my dogs see the vet annually for general checks and to make sure their up to date with necessary vaccinations. I was due to go back towards the end of 2018, but it completely slipped my mind.
My 9.5 year old American Bulldog mix has 1 front bowed leg. He’s always had it and he walks and runs fine (he looks gimpy when walking, but it’s how he’s always been and it causes no discomfort). He’s also had issues with food and the environment around him, although we’ve never been able to pinpoint his exact sensitivities. I’m sure you can go back and see my many posts and responses related to his “excessive drooling” and allergies posts.
So I noticed the other day when he was laying on his side (with the bowed leg up) that there appeared to be a large lump behind the leg. I never noticed it or just attributed it to the structure of his frame with the odd leg. So I went back to some old pictures I had, and I didn’t see the lump.
Concerned, I contacted the vet’s office on Saturday to make an appointment to look at the leg, as well as have his annual exam. The receptionist asked what doctor I deal with there. I told her the name of the practice’s owner (Dr. B), who also was the one who I discussed his allergies with (which was something I wanted to ask him about while I was there since the drooling episodes persist at irregular intervals). The earliest appointment was Monday 5:30. I rushed out of work that afternoon, let my dogs out, put the one in the car (I left the other home alone for like the 2nd time ever in the 4 years that I’ve had her)
When I arrived at the vet, I could see other dogs in the lobby. My big guy is loud and disruptive when he sees other dogs that he wants to meet. So I called and told them I was outside to call me when the room was ready. Nearly 30 minutes pass (we walked laps around the building) before we’re ushered into the hottest room ever. The vet tech asks me why we’re here. I explain about the lump and that I want to have his annual exam, etc.
So then we wait even longer and my poor dog, recognizing where he is is now panting and barking and crying. So the door opens and this women walks in. Never met her before, but she certainly wasn’t the vet I booked the appointment with. One of her arms wasn’t through the armhole of her cardigan and instead stuck out of the bottom. So something was up with her. She introduced herself, asked what I was here for.
Now, I understand my dog can be intimidating at first glance. He’s 119 pounds and has a giant pit head. But I never interacted with a vet who wouldn’t approach my dog. Even after telling her he’s 1000% friendly (and mind you I was holding him next to me), she made sure to keep the metal exam table between her and us.
So a vet tech comes in to ‘hold the dog’. The doctor looks at the lump and tells me, without touching it, that it’s a lipoma. I say “are you sure”, then she hesitantly approaches and feels the lump for about 10 seconds and says yes. Then says it’s obviously hampering his movements. I tell her he’s always had the bowed leg and cued up a video on my phone from him running, jumping and playing with my other dog the day before. So she then says it’s not hampering him, but it should be removed. And unfortunately it’s so big that they probably shouldn’t do the surgery and should have a specialist come in to do it. Then she did said that he’s young enough to warrant doing it (like I was automatically going to say no because of the expense). I she knew me like the other vet did, then she would know the well being of my dog is my priority. I ask her to get me an estimate.
I then ask if we can do a needle aspiration to make sure it’s not cancer. Why would I put my dog through a surgery, only to find out it may be cancerous and then make him go through treatments? If it’s cancer, he might still have to have surgery, but maybe they could try other methods to shrink it or kill it first. She says we can “for peace of mind”. And then tells me 30 seconds later that needle aspirations on lumps are highly inaccurate. The sample they take might not have cancer, but it can still be there.
Peace of mind, indeed.
Then she tries to dissuade me from the procedure by saying it will be expensive (but specialized surgery isn’t?)
I tell her to go ahead and do it.
While they try to formulate the price, she sells me on their “wellness package” which includes standard blood labs, urine and stool labs and heartworm test. Other than her 10 seconds spent feeling the lump and listening to his heart with a stethoscope, she didn’t touch my dog. The vet tech felt my dog’s body for lumps. Found a hard one in his chest. Doctor edges closes and feels for 1 second…”not concerned”. I tell them he has a lot of little lumps on his belly along with a bunch of skin tags of various size and color. She wasn’t interested in seeing them.
I’ve had wellness exams every year. The vet normally checks my dog’s ears, mouth, teeth, runs his hands over the dog to looks for lumps or abnormalities, checks over his legs and makes sure his joints are ok, listens to his heart, listen to his lungs/respiration, asks me what he eats, asks about his energy level, talks about any sort of supplements he takes, sometimes takes his temperature and checks the anal glands.
But this lady had her tech do the most cursory exam feeling for lumps on his back and sides and that’s it.
So she leaves the room to get started with prepping for the needle aspiration. Time passes (so much time) and she pops her head in and says that Dr. B (the practice owner) has to be the one who does it because she just had shoulder surgery (thanks for finally telling me) and unfortunately he still has two other patients to see, so can I come back another time? I turn around and tell her that I work every day and I switched my schedule around to be there that day and not for nothing but my appointment was supposed to be with Dr. B in the first place. So she says that she hopes that I wasn’t disappointed in having her treat my dog (I should have said something, but I didn’t). But I made the point that had I had Dr. B like originally scheduled, I wouldn’t have had to wait for him to finish with other people in order to do this test because he would have done the exam and the test and finish with me before seeing anyone else.
I wound up waiting. My poor dog, already traumatized by the blood test puncture was panting and crying and barking. At first, I kept shushing him. But then I just let him bark it out, because maybe they’d be so sick of hearing him that they’d hurry up. Dr. B finally came in, did the needle aspiration and left. In and out in less than 5 minutes.
I had hoped that he was going to come in alone so I could give him a tell him how disappointed I was with the exam and the doctor. But she had come in with him and with the vet techs in the room holding the dog down, I didn’t want to speak in front of them.
It’s been 3 days and I’m still annoyed. I didn’t get to discuss the drooling episodes (she was not interested at all in discussing it since it happens so randomly and the Benedryl and Pepcid help manage it). Who knows if the other lumps are lipomas or something else? I wanted to discuss senior nutrition (but not with her at this point).
I didn’t want to say anything until all the lab tests were in. Everything was good (Cholesterol and Total Protein levels a bit high, but she wasn’t concerned) and the biopsy came back likely to be fatty deposit lipoma.
Anyone else have inadequate vet exams?
And yes, I could have made a separate appointment to do the wellness exam and focus this one on the lump. But my vet knows these visits aren’t cheap and always makes a point of asking if there’s anything else I want to address while I’m there so I don’t have to pay for another visit. This new vet couldn’t be bothered…how do you expect to go to work to thoroughly examine a pet when you only have the use of 1 arm?
Sorry that you had an unpleasant experience. In the future when you make a vet appointment, request the vet that you trust, only.
I know what you are talking about regarding the vet techs, they are being given more and more responsibility.
It is concerning, I don’t like it either.
But it is what it is. Depending on the procedure I often insist that my vet does it, NOT the vet tech.
I only let the vet give the rabies shot (for example).
Don’t be afraid to speak up, after all you are the consumer, you are the one paying the bill.
anon, I did specifically ask for the vet I trusted. I was completely surprised when a different vet walked in the door. Had they told me that they were switching me when they called to confirm the appointment, I would have rescheduled.
If the doctor wanted to come to work so badly after having shoulder surgery then they should have made sure to stick her with smaller, easier to manage animals.
I thought about emailing the vet I wanted, so I could relay all of my concerns that weren’t addressed. Maybe he’ll do the right thing and do another exam himself.
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