Archive for Thursday, January 18, 2007

Pet talk

January 18, 2007

On Sunday, my son and I were taking a break from the Kansas University-South Carolina game and decided to run to the nearby mall for a Kansas State shirt. We were in Leawood at my in-laws and had that luxury.

Driving through a tree-lined neighborhood, I spied a small Bichon Frise enjoying the remains of a day-old pizza behind its master's back.

I remarked to my son, "Jon, that pooch is going to wake up with a big belly ache in the morning. The problem is the owner will never figure out why."

On the way back, master, dog and pizza box were gone. I wonder if the little dickens fooled his master and got away with the snack.

The point is it seems half the challenge of a diagnostician in my field is having a good history from which to figure out the chain of events. So many times, the challenge is figuring out what the heck happened when a client brings in a pet for examination. One thing I truly detest is prying into someone's personal life. But if one little pearl is found, it may be the difference in resolving the dilemma or diagnosis and could point the way to a successful treatment.

Without supportive history -- what the owner can relate about the day or two before the pet's sickness or malady -- the doctor is forced to do one of two things: Give a shotgun treatment or shoot in the dark. That means giving medicines on a gut feeling or common sense or giving a battery of tests, X-rays and work ups to lead to a diagnosis or eliminate possible problems. The latter tends to be expensive for the master, but immensely helpful to the doctor.

My father used to tell a story about a farmer who came to him for treatment of a health problem. My dad was a physician in a small town and took care of many so-called characters like this "John Deere." When the gentleman asked my dad to tell him what was wrong with just one look, my Dad said, "You know, John, you need to see my son. He's a veterinarian. He's the only one I know who can look a horse in the mouth and tell what's wrong with it."

Once again, my point is if you are considering a visit to the vet's office because your pet's health is going south quickly, gather up all the "history" you can before going. Little pearls of information can make the difference in the success of treatment. Ultimately, you and your pet can return to a happy home.

I recall a frantic mother who brought in a vomiting Yorkshire one morning for an exam. After gathering Poopsy's history, which was of almost no help, I examined the dog thoroughly. Upon palpation of the pup's belly, I could feel a small spherical object stuck in its small intestine. I related my finding to the mom and suggested X-rays for confirmation and surgery for removal. As she fretted about the cost, her 5-year-old son provided one of those little pearls, "Mommy, I've been trying to tell you Poopsy ate my best cat-eye marble two days ago. You just didn't believe me."

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