I had a negative experience when I took my dog to the vet. Am I overreacting? Should I give the vet another chance?
I recently moved to a new town, and needed to find a new vet for my GSD-mix, Thunderdog. I asked around my work, and went with a vet that was recommended by a few of my staff members.
I suppose that Thunderdog and I were lucky in that, in our old town, we had a really great vet. Thunderdog had some problems early on with food (super picky eater, didn't care if she practically starved!), but the vet helped us find food that she would eat and got her all of her required nutrients - and was all-natural and based on a dogs natural diet, to boot. (For the curious - it's Orijen
). Thunderdog also has had ongoing problems with her anal glands. She needs them expressed every three months or so, or she'll start doing the butt-scoot thing and will be kind of stinky. It was about 3 months since her last vet trip, so I figured that'd be a good way to meet the new vet and introduce him to Thunderdog (and her butt).
Things did not go as planned.
The new vet was very friendly, but when trying to get at Thunderdogs anal glands he and his vet tech gave it one little half-assed (ha) attempt to hold her steady. He then said, "I'm going to give her something to calm her down". "Okay," I said, not thinking much about it. A needle appeared out of nowhere, and he gave her a shot in the leg. Almost immediately, Thunderdog began to stagger around the room, whining, and bumping into things. "What did you give her?" I asked, alarmed. "Just something to calm her down," he said. Then Thunderdog stumbled, fell to the floor, her legs shook, and then she was still: eyes open, tongue hanging out on the floor.
To say that "I lost my shit" would be an understatement. "Holy fuck, what did you do to my dog??"
I shouted, then burst into tears. I had no idea
he was going to knock her out.
He then was very apologetic, and explained that with larger dogs he would often use the drug (forgot the name of it) to "calm them down" so that they would be more relaxed. Since Thunderdog was already out for the count, he and the vet tech expressed her anal glands, clipped her nails, and then gave her another shot to wake her up. I was on the floor with her, petting her and trying to pull myself together.
In the awkward time between the second shot and when she actually came back to life, the vet asked me what kind of food I fed her. I told him about her early food trouble and that we were happy with Orijen. He then gave me a lengthy pitch for Science Diet, which - as far as I know - is the dog food equivalent of McDonalds. Lots of fillers, grain and corn, not much in the way of meat (mostly meat by-products).
And then - then he started telling me about how great invisible fences were. he got out a brochure and explained how they work. I asked if it was a shock-collar sort of thing, he said yes, "But that's the way they learn". He seemed to have forgotten that I live in an apartment at the moment and don't even have a yard. Not only that - but I know a lot of dogs (I'm one of those annoying Dog Park People) and very few have shock collars. It's not something I'd ever considered. I think they're kind of cruel and it's also just not in the cards right now (hello, apartment). I'd like a house with a fence, of course. Maybe next year. Anyway.
When Thunderdog came to and was able to walk, we paid up and got the hell out of there. Thunderdog was a zombie the rest of the day. She just sat in her chair and looked out the window, kind of like a person who isn't all there. She was like this for about 8 hours (the rest of the day). I called my previous vet and asked how they had handled her anal gland expressing in the past. She said that she and a vet tech would just hold her and another vet tech would do the dirty work. No drugs! She was surprised that the vet had given Thunderdog something that knocked her out.
A few days later I got a letter in the mail from the vet: handwritten, on a card. He was very apologetic and said that he would like it if we would give him another chance. Thunderdog has been fine since the visit, but we're coming up on another three months and I think I saw her do the butt-scoot across the floor. One other thing of note: I do live out in the sticks, so there aren't a lot of vet options.
I can't decide if what the new vet did to Thunderdog was appropriate. I'm second guessing this because, well, maybe my old vet was just the most awesome vet in the world and not every vet can stick their fingers in a German Shepherd's butt without help. Is it normal to knock a dog out before doing that?
And, perhaps he was just trying to fill the awkward silence with chatter. Just because he's a social doofus doesn't mean he's a bad vet. He did seem apologetic when I freaked out, and the apology letter he wrote was really nice. Also, I live in a rural area where the majority of large dogs are working/hunting dogs...the vet may have not known that she's my Sweetheart, not my Hunting Accessory.
What the new vet did - knock Thunderdog out, give me sales pitches while I was obviously upset - appropriate?
So maybe he's a social doofus, and I don't have a lot of choices for vet care. Do I go back to him and lay out some ground rules for Thunderdog's care, or do I find someone else?
Thank you all, from Thunderdog and myself.