Q: My vet says my dog needs surgery on her leg. I am not convinced that is the problem. What do I do?


In this video we discuss what to do if you don't agree with what your vet says, when to get a second opinion, and when you should get a referral to a specialist. We discuss how important it is to be your pet's advocate.


Q: (DONNY): I took my dog Chani to the vet because she was not able to get up or go on a walk she is six years old and until recently has been very athletic. The vet recommends surgery on her wrist because she believes there are micro fractures. This will cost thousands and I don't believe there's anything wrong with her wrist. What should I do?

ANWER: 1) always trust your instinct 2) when seeking a second opinion, get a referral to a specialist. 3) don't put yourself in a situation where you're going to have to choose between optimal medical care and cost by protecting yourself and getting good medical insurance for your pet (ideally when they're young and healthy and not after they've developed a lot of medical problems).

TRANSCRIPT: This question comes from Donnie and his dog Chani.

Q) I took my dog Chani to the vet because she was not able to get up or go on a walk she is six years old and until recently has been very athletic. The vet recommends surgery on her wrist because she believes there are micro fractures. This will cost thousands and I don't believe there's anything wrong with her wrist. What should I do?

A) OK Donnie this is a great question it's filled with lots of pieces that I think it could really benefit other owners. First thing is always trust your instinct you know your dog best when you take your dog to the vet they're going to be evaluating them for 15 maybe 20 minutes and you live with her you see her every day. So if you have a really strong gut instinct that if the vet's assessment is wrong, follow that instinct, get a second opinion.

When it comes to second opinions ALWAYS GO UP (get a referral to a specialist). You know, if your vet is recommending surgery on the wrist and you're not fully convinced, get a referral to a specialist. There our Veterinary Specialists- they are like veterinarians they went to vet school, but then after that they did five sometimes six additional years of very specialized training in one specific field. And specialists often work in large hospitals where they have access to higher levels of diagnostic imaging like CT and MRI, so they can really get you a little bit more information about what's going on .

The other concerns I'm hearing- it sounds like there's a little bit more to the story than just the wrist. Most of the time if a dog has an orthopedic injury involving just one joint they probably aren't going to be lethargic, not wanting to get up, not wanting to do their normal activities. They'll be limping and maybe impeded but I think you're right there probably is something more to the picture going on. I would say before getting tunnel vision on the wrist, get a full diagnostic workup to make sure that she's otherwise healthy. General blood work and basic diagnostics can help rule out things like problems with other organ systems -even low thyroid (hypothyroidism) and that kind of stuff. One thing I want to mention is sometimes spinal pain like pinched nerves and herniated discs can show up with the lameness in a front leg especially in the neck area- it's called a root signature and those dogs are usually quite a lot more uncomfortable than a dog with just a sprain or a strain, so you know you wouldn't want to get tunnel vision on a wrist if there's something going on with the neck right.

The second point that you bring up is cost and here's the thing. A lot of times surgery is the only route to fix a problem, no matter how you spend the dice no matter who you see if there's something major going on with your dog or if surgery is needed, it's going to cost you a lot of money usually thousands of dollars. Never put yourself in a situation where you're having to make decisions based on cost. As a veterinarian, I can tell you our biggest obstacle between providing optimal medical care to our patients is usually cost. Especially in Canada where I live, people have no idea the financial reality of medical care. When they go to the emergency room, when they have knee surgery, everything is paid for by the government and most people will never actually see their medical bills. Owners really have no idea a lot of times that diagnostics, treatments, hospitalization and emergency care is thousands of dollars even for pets. A lot of our technology, our machines. our medications /drugs are all coming from the human medical field and they're extremely costly. If your dog needs an MRI it's gonna cost you a couple thousand dollars- an MRI machine costs the veterinarians that have it you know millions to have that machine so everybody has to pay to use these machines. Everybody has to pay to use the equipment.

So don't ever put yourself in a situation where you have to choose between providing optimal medical care to your dog. The best way to protect yourself from this is by getting good medical insurance for your pet. This is very controversial-people are very opinionated about this especially pet owners. Vets don't really like to talk about it because it makes people upset. I like to talk about it because in my experience having good medical insurance saves lives--specially in situations of catastrophic illness and injury. If it's a major medical problem, at the end of the day ,if they don't have medical insurance they're not going to get the best care. They might end up not surviving if the owners can't afford the treatment. Most owners do not have several thousand (in a serious situation upwards of ten thousand dollars) just lying around for this type of thing. You can avoid it if you just protect yourself by getting good medical insurance. I have another post on our website regarding this I hope that helps.

Just to sum it up: 1) always trust your instinct 2) if you want a a second opinion, get a referral to a specialist. 3) don't put yourself in a situation where you're going to have to choose between optimal medical care and cost by protecting yourself and getting good medical insurance for your pet (ideally when they're young and healthy and not after they've developed a lot of medical problems).

Let me know how that goes and we'd love to hear any updates I'm very appreciative that you have shared this with us and all of the best Donnie and Chani.

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