Should You Seek a Second Veterinary Opinion?
|With increasing numbers of veterinarians, and the development of specialization, the opportunity for second opinions has greatly increased. As a veterinarian who has answered people’s questions for 1-800-PetMeds over several years, I am often recommending second opinions, especially when there are repeat veterinary visits for the same clinical complaints.|
By far the greatest number of questions I get is with respect to chronic skin and/or ear infection complaints. While medications such as topical antibiotic/steroid creams and systemic cortisone and antibiotics are frequently prescribed, I find that many veterinarians fail to educate animal guardians and address underlying causes of these problems, which subsequently leads to increased patient suffering and client expense.
Flea bite allergies, inhalant/contact allergies and food allergies are potential underlying factors, and need to be addressed in order to control patient scratching and secondary infections. If dietary trials and symptomatic medications don’t help, I will frequently offer referrals for blood or skin allergy testing with a veterinary dermatologist. With early diagnosis and treatment, long term expense and frustrating patient relapse can be avoided.
Second opinions should also be used with other relapsing or persistent clinical signs, including non-resolving lameness, chronic digestive symptoms, and respiratory symptoms. Referrals to orthopedic specialists, internists, veterinary gastroenterologists and cardiologists may help with proper diagnosis and treatment. With increasing incidence of cancer in pets, there are also more veterinary oncologists now available to help with long term management of these difficult cases as well.
If in doubt about your pet, there is never a wrong time for a second opinion. Your animal companion’s health is certainly worth it.