|Posted by petemergencyclinic on August 23, 2014 at 8:00 PM|
Dear Fellow Pet Lovers,
Recently, I treated a pet that had been seen by DVM's for illness 4 times in the previous week. The symptoms were vague, but included some vomiting, some diarrhea, and some intermittent weakness. I had a suspicion, and convinced the owners to allow me to run fresh blood testing inluding electrolytes a long with a new X-ray.
To make a long story short, the blood testing was highly suspicious of a disease called Addison's disease, in which the body does not produce enough natural cortisone. These animals tend to have vague symptoms and to "wax and wane." The electrolytes collected at the time of weakness gave me the answer.
The very nice pet did well with IV fluids and a small amount of cortisone. Incidentally, natural cortisone is required by the body as an answer to stress. The body may do well without it until stress occurs, at which point the body gets very weak.
I mention this not to extol my virtues as a diagnostician, but to point out that TIMELY testing when the symptoms are present is very valuable.
I had another case in which a six month old puppy presented for tremors after the owner had treated it with an OTC flea product that often causes tremors. I recommended some simple lab testing, which the owner declined, and I treated the symptoms the best I could.
Several days later, the owner called, angry because several days later, the dog broke with Parvo virus, which he felt should have been diagnosed at the ER. I explained to the owner that, in the absence of laboratory testing, a doctor is truly "flying blind," treating based on history, physical exam, and symptoms only. (I also reminded him that HE had chosen to not vaccinate the pet and to not tell me that.)
So, what is the point of all of this? There are a few....
1) Allow the ER doctor (or any doctor) to perform the needed testing, and treatment so he or she may properly diagnose and treat your pet. That is usually the cheapest route in the long run.
2) Fresh testing collected near the time of the symptoms is the best chance to see what is really happening.
3) If you know something in the history that may be important, TELL the doctor, even if it may seem embarrassing. The doctor uses all available information to determine the diagnosis and the correct treatment. Your data is part of that information.
Working together as a team, you, your DVM, and the ER doctors provide a great chance of keeping your good friend running!
That is all.
Dr. John Emerson