It is common for humans to seek second opinions for their serious health diagnosis, and the same consideration should be extended to dogs when a difficult diagnosis is determined. Many clients are uncomfortable sharing their desire to get a second opinion with their primary vet, but if the nature of the problem is dangerous or serious many veterinarians will become an ally in suggesting or helping an owner identify and choose another veterinarian for a second opinion depending on the dog’s situation or condition. The decision to seek a second opinion is stressful and creates more anxiety but the best interest of the dog should be kept at the forefront of this decision. One of the most important influences in making the decision to seek another opinion is to listen to your internal instinct. If a treatment or diagnosis doesn’t feel right, listen to your instinct and seek a second professional diagnosis.
When a diagnosis is severe, such as cancer, seek a second opinion from a veterinarian who specializes in oncology. It’s also possible if the dog is initially diagnosed is cancer, your primary vet may automatically refer you to a specialist. Serious diagnosis may require equipment that’s not available at the primary vet’s office or a condition may require treatment from a veterinarian with more advanced expertise in treating this condition. Keeping the lines of communication open with your primary vet helps insure all of the pet’s history, medical information, test results and initial diagnosis are made available to the vet providing a second opinion. It’s important to seek a second opinion as soon as possible; similar to human specialists schedules are full so it may take longer to secure an appointment than it does with your primary vet. Also, by discussing the need for a second opinion, both doctors can work together to discuss the problem if necessary.
Human medicine has made a shift to accepting and embracing complementary treatments and the same is trending in veterinarian medicine. Ask friends, family members or your veterinarian if there are holistic options available to treat a specific diagnosis. The truth is some conditions are severe and there are limited or minimal options, but when there are alternatives research options for your dog’s condition. If a radical plan is the only option, it’s best to accept the diagnosis after seeking a second opinion and determine what’s in the best interest for the dog’s health and long-term life, then decide from this perspective.
Generally, specialists are more expensive than primary veterinarians. Be sure to inquire about estimated costs when making an appointment. Some offices offer a consultation fee; x-rays, testing, and additional lab work typically are not covered in the consultation fee. If the dog is covered by an insurance plan, research if a specialist is covered in the plan.
Being a dog owner is a big responsibility. A dog’s life is at the mercy of its owner. The health and well-being of a dog can be expensive, financially and emotionally. As a means to help decide when additional information is necessary, consider how you would handle your own treatment and care if diagnosed with a serious condition. It’s often second nature to seek a second opinion for human conditions, and a dog deserves the same consideration. Vets do their best to provide accurate, concise diagnosis, but using two-sets of eyes to evaluate a situation may identify a misdiagnosis and alleviate severe, costly and unnecessary treatment regiments.
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