Thursday, January 31, 2008

Hidden value

It's been slow around the office. Weird, because it was really busy the first two weeks of January, when you think people would stay at home to ponder their big Christmas bills. It was feast then, famine now.

We have started a senior pet program at least. We sent clients letters telling them of the offer - an exam, bloodwork, chest Xrays, and urinalysis at a discounted price for January and February. A few days after collecting the samples, we sit down with the owners and present them with a folder of the results of our findings.

Business-wise, its a good time to run a promotion like this. But we honestly don't do it just for the income. The workup at least gives us a baseline for aging pets. For a lot of them, it's a good preanesthetic work-up, as most of them need to return for a professional dental cleaning.

I also have uncovered serious hidden problems. Its common to find early kidney failure in a geriatric cat. We can recommend a simple diet change that will significantly extend their life.

Once, I worked up a old golden retriever who had no complaints. His bloodwork came back normal except for a screaming high thyroid level. This is really bizarre - dogs often get hypothyroidism (too low of thyroid level), but almost never high thyroid level.

I asked the owners to bring the dog back. On re-examination, I felt a mass in his right thyroid gland, in the neck just next to the larynx. I had missed it on my first exam because of his thick, exuberant golden coat. The bloodtest helped me locate the tumor.

I removed the entire tumorous gland surgically. The pathology report was a carcinoma, a really aggressive tumor. With the labwork I caught it early before it had spread.

We often treat sick patients, and help them get better. Often I really feel like I am just aiding the body in the healing process. The immune system itself often does the real work. However, I know I saved this dog's life. It's a marvelous feeling, especially since the dog is awesome, beautiful, and as devoted to his owners as they are to him. All this happened a few months after I lost my own beautiful golden, Montana, to a brain tumor.

Guess who came to see me today for a senior workup? Yep, that same gorgeous dog. His owners know the value of testing a normal-looking senior pet. Seeing him still looking so good gives me that happy feeling all over again.


peevish said...

Hidden value, indeed!

Anthony said...

I really miss Montana...

Get2Eric said...

Bet the owners think you set the moon?
You did for this dog.
Good work.

Anonymous said...

Great Vet Work, as usual! You can tell you really enjoy your profession and your clients and patients are appreciative, too.
Love, M

mainlyclearskies said...

That made me tear-up. It's so hard to lose a pet. Knowing there are people like you who care enough about a pet's life that you're being pro-active about it is awesome.

Emily said...

What a great story!

ColeBugsmommy said...

Some of the techs don't like the senior wellness appts. I do. I like knowing exactly what the client is coming in for, getting right to business, not rushing through x-rays. It would be great for the doctors to share in the Feb. staff meeting, some of their findings.

sallyneary said...

Hi vetmommy this is actually a question about your post from a year ago that I found on google--you discussed stimulating a cat in heat and I have a question that is too embarrassing to ask my vet lest she think I am a weirdo. I had read years ago that cat breeders did this between breedings to make the cat go out of heat. You don't forget this sort of factoid. I have a young stray who was a sweet 4 month old kitten one day and the next a wanton hussy. It was distressing her and my elderly cats. I looked around for something about the size of the cat penises I have actually seen, since I don't have any special cat stimulating glass rods, and I decided on the smallest size of electrical connector--those little plastic things that hold wires. It's about the size of a q-tip, and I put lots of lube on it, and gingerly attempted to probe a couple times. She was annoyed, but they get annoyed when the male cats do it too. She didn't go out of heat early--I suspect that it wasn't enough to make a difference, or it wasn't long enough (1 inch)--but now that she is out of heat, I had hoped she would revert to liking me. She is still running from me. Do you think she thinks I assaulted her? I was really just trying to relieve her suffering.
I know you don't run a Q&A site but I haven't found anyone else who has addressed this sensitive topic, so I hope you can respond. I feel very guilty right now, and it would be nice to be able to touch her, especially since I need to bring her in for spaying before the next fun cycle begins!