Am I overreacting to my dog's bad vet visit?
December 12, 2011 1:33 PM   Subscribe

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.

So, tl;dr:

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.
posted by Elly Vortex to Pets & Animals (51 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Uh no, no I would not be taking my dog back to that vet who injected your dog with a sedative and then tried to sell you garbage food and shock collars. Nope, that vet clearly doesn't need any of your money.
posted by fenriq at 1:39 PM on December 12, 2011 [22 favorites]

I feel like that what he did was somewhat inappropriate (the sales pitch as well as giving your dog an injection without telling you exactly what was in it first), but that sending you a handwritten apology card makes up for it a lot. I'd probably give the vet another chance (although if you decide you'd really rather not, I couldn't fault you for it).
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:39 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

I would not take my dog back, regardless of what happened if I personally did not feel comfortable with him/her. It's your dog and you don't need a great, or even good reason to somewhere else if you want to!
posted by 2legit2quit at 1:42 PM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

I'm a vet, but this isn't medical advice.

GET A NEW VET. Like, right now. There is so much wrong with your account that it makes my head want to implode. Look for an AAHA accredited vet, that will go a long way.

A couple other quick things. The topic of nutrition is just as prickly for animals as it is for people. Just like there are Atkins and Raw Vegan humans, there are vets who are going to try to convince you only to feed your dog food made of unicorn tears preserved in gold dust. Try different things, and when you figure out what works stick with it. Science Diet is not the McDonalds of dog food, but it isn't the best, either.

Try to get your next vet to teach you how to do the anal glad expression. Its not too difficult to master, and will save you money in the long run.

As to your question about it being normal to knock a dog out for that kind of procedure, it totally depends on the situation. While your dog may seem perfect to you, it is possible that the vet didn't feel comfortable. Regardless, you should have known what was about to happen (and signed something!) and you didn't. What you want from your vet and this guy don't match up.

If you want, email me your location and I'll check VIN to see if there is anyone in your area that might be a better fit.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 1:42 PM on December 12, 2011 [35 favorites]

If you aren't happy with the vet, go to another vet. I would not be happy with that vet.

A sedative that will render your dog unconscious is a thing that needs to be done carefully and not just randomly then you let the dog stumble around until it collapses. That's grossly unprofessional, obviously made you freak out and not safe.

The card is interesting so maybe I'd go again. Is it a single vet practice? Maybe people recommended one of the other vets at the place...

Also, I'm surprised good vet didn't show you how to do the expressing yourself. Or maybe you just want to pay someone to do that... I totally get that. I'd be the same way.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 1:43 PM on December 12, 2011

This vet sounds awful. Seriously. Don't go back. A note of apology does not excuse their ACTIONS.

If you can't get a personal recommendation for a different vet, just pick one out of the yellow pages or from google, call them up ahead of time and ask them their policy for expressing anal glands. If you're comfortable with that, then take Thunderdog in to meet the staff and get a treat before an actual appointment. Any good vet's office will be thrilled you brought the dog in on a meet-the-office visit. If you're still happy, tadah!
posted by warble at 1:46 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

I would not return to a vet whose primary form of patient rapport is sedation.
posted by jamaro at 1:46 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

I also think that all of this was borderline inappropriate, but a handwritten apology does sound like he really is invested to some extent in making amends. I still would probably take my dog to another vet, but I understand that your options may be limited by geography.

At any rate, if I visited again in your situation, I would be sure to say something like, "Hey, I really appreciate the apology and I realize we have different styles when it comes to working with animals. Please make sure you describe to me in detail what you are about to do to my dog before you do it, even for small things you don't think are important but which might be important to me-- like mild sedatives or any other medications. Also I am very uninterested in switching up my dog's routine or living situation now, so please do not attempt to persuade me to do so unless I am actively harming him." If this vet violates those new ground rules, even once, collect your dog as soon as it is safe to do so and go.
posted by WidgetAlley at 1:47 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

I would have been very angry as well. If there were lots of options for vets in your area I would say don't bother with this guy again. But since that is not the case, I think it might be worth one more try. The fact that he sent a nice apology note shows that he's sensitive to customer needs and wants to make you happy. I would take that note as "permission" to be very explicit about your wishes-- tell him right out that you are very happy with the products you use for you dog and that you do not want to hear about any other products.

Good luck!
posted by imalaowai at 1:49 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

The vet was probably trying to sell you on a more cereal based diet because of his anal gland problem (which can be due to diet), although I agree pushing any particular brand seems inappropriate and the invisible fence thing just seems bizarre... was there any lead up to that or was it just out of the blue?

You say you don't have a lot of options for vets, not no other options. I see no harm in trying a different one. A sales pitch during treatment would be a dealbreaker for me, especially one that is completely unrelated to the treatment. If the new vet is also no good, give the old one another chance.

Also want to nth that you don't need a vet to express his glands, you can do it yourself at home. (although I would at least consider trying to increase the 'bulk' in your dog's diet - if you can and see if that resolves the problem because having that done 4 times a year can't be fun for anyone and I would expect, quite costly)
posted by missmagenta at 1:58 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Does "not many options" mean "only one or two other vets in town" or "no one within a half hour drive?" Because hell, I'd drop that guy in a heartbeat if there was any possible way I could find anybody else.
posted by restless_nomad at 1:59 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

While I think everyone is giving good advice, I find it difficult to weigh in without a pic!
posted by jbenben at 1:59 PM on December 12, 2011 [13 favorites]

Lots of vets are social doofuses (I work with them) but most wouldn't do the whole sedation business without a full heads-up to you. Plus, it costs money to do that and I'm guessing you paid for it as well
All those reccomendations, too. Wierd ..
Lots of the rules between vets and clients are up to the laws of individual states, but hey, around these parts we'd have to explain what we wanted to do and its cost and side effects, if not a full-blown signed consent form ...
It's not unheard-of to need sedation for such a procedure but it is unusual. Proper restraint and it just takes a few seconds to do it, unless they are painful or abscessed, they don't usually need sedation
I say find the other guy in town. Unless this is a REALLY small town there will be a colleague of his more to your liking
posted by bebrave! at 1:59 PM on December 12, 2011

Even with limited options I'd at least try another vet. I'd call and explaining that you need the glands expressed and tell them about what breed your dog is. See if they might want to give it a try without sedation. The pitching for products would bother me too. I don't know why a vet would want to switch food on a picky animal that is doing well.
posted by oneear at 2:04 PM on December 12, 2011

Oh hell no.

I have had and fostered big dogs. 80, 90, 120, 180 pounds (though that one was mostly deaf and blind and had 2 teeth). I have a 55# doberbeagle who does not like being messed with and would probably carry a switchblade if she had thumbs. She gets to wear a muzzle sometimes (which an old vet called "time to put on your party hat!").

No vet has ever offered, threatened, or even remarked upon the possibility of sedating one of my dogs for an exam. Without my consent? I would have lost my shit. I would still be losing my shit right now.

And then the hard sell on some crap you didn't need? That alone would send me to another vet. I know vet care has shit margins, I realize they have to sell some stuff, but any hard sell would send me to another vet.

If you're really in a corner and would have to choose a vet very far away, I guess you could have a conversation with him about the problems you had and find out whether you get a reasonable response and go from there. But he better be really sincerely sorry.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:05 PM on December 12, 2011 [4 favorites]

Under no circumstances return to that vet.

I'd bet he's on commission for everything he tried to sell you, and that, in fact, he's been to some kind of seminar that tells vets how to better monetize their practices.

The handwritten follow-up is probably just one of the bullet points of the seminar.
posted by jamjam at 2:09 PM on December 12, 2011 [10 favorites]

I don't think his treatment was appropriate; you did say "okay" when he said he was going to give her something to calm her down, but a good vet would have given you a little more to go on, e.g. "I'd like to give her X to calm her down. It will make her pretty woozy, and it will cost $$$" and give you a chance to ask whether it was really necessary, think about it, and say yes or no. I'd be pissed if a vet jabbed a needle into my dog without telling me exactly what was in it beforehand and giving me enough details to make an informed decision.

The sales pitches are super tacky, too.
posted by usonian at 2:11 PM on December 12, 2011

Not overreacting. That sounds horrible and pretty inappropriate - appreciate the apology, but you have different approaches and I don't think he's your guy.
posted by mrs. taters at 2:13 PM on December 12, 2011

My Corgi freaks the f*ck out when anyone tries to clip her nails - she turns into a snarling, slobbering, snapping beast. My vet puts a little muzzle on her so that she can't do any damage, and neither he nor the tech ever seem phased. My point being that there are levels of restraint in-between "nothing" and "heavy sedation," and your vet should have tried other options before stabbing her with a sedative.

Come to think of it, I am pretty sure that I have had to sign a consent form before letting my dog be sedated.

The invisible fence thing seems really weird, and I agree with jamjam about the sales pitch.
posted by radioamy at 2:13 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Even without the weird skeezy sales pitches (seriously? electric fences?), I'd say find another vet. When you've got a dog, especially one with special needs like food issues, you need to have a vet you're comfortable with. You do not want to be going to That Vet Who Did That Thing To Your Dog. New vet ASAP.

FWIW, I'm horrified that he sedated your dog. IANAV, but I'd think appropriate responses would be: give the dog a (owner-approved) treat to distract her; get a bigger assistant; get an extra assistant; have you help hold the dog; maybe muzzle, if he's worried about teeth. And the fact that he said "calm her down" instead of "knock her out" indicates to me that either he was misleading you, or that he messed up the dosage. Both dealbreakers for me.
posted by specialagentwebb at 2:15 PM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

1. Goes straight for the sedatives
2. sells Science Diet aka Science Death
3. Advocates negative reinforcement with electric shock

That's three strikes in my book.
posted by bgrebs at 2:15 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

FYI, my vet office and the technicians/assistants who work there are very careful to clearly explain everything that they do before they do it - along the lines of "We are going to take his temperature rectally... This is a vaccine against bordetella - if you will hold him I will administer it here... This is a vaccine for kennel cough - it is a nasal spray..." etc. I would not feel comfortable going to a vet who simply said "we're going to give him something to calm him down."

Maybe the vet wasn't having a good day, but still... I would probably not return unless they were the only vet in driving distance.
posted by muddgirl at 2:20 PM on December 12, 2011

FWIW, I'm pretty sure that there are two types of Science Diet - the crap they sell at the pet stores and the good stuff that they sell at the vet. As another data point, my vet has only recommended I buy a can or two of the stuff from them when my dog had a persistent upset tummy and needed something very gentle for a few meals.
posted by radioamy at 2:20 PM on December 12, 2011

All the vets I've dealt with have told me exactly what they're going to do before they do it. They've said stuff like, "I'm going to look inside his mouth. He might not like it." Possible injections have always been explained before the visit.

That this guy couldn't even figure out that this would horrify you and your dog indicates not only that he isn't very professional, but that he lacks basic common sense. This could be pretty dangerous. In fact, injecting your dog with a sedative that made her stumble around, potentially hurting herself, is an example of how this is dangerous.

I'm sorry you guys had to go through this. I don't know what your work schedule is like, but if I had a dog at the moment, even with a full-time job, I would drive an hour out of the way to a competent vet to avoid putting my dog in Dr. Nick's hands.
posted by ignignokt at 2:20 PM on December 12, 2011

Lifestyle too short. The apology doesn't mitigate the vet's approach.

If you want to give him credit for the apology- just tell him you appreciate the apology.

Even in rural areas, there are often rescue groups --who know a lot about vets in the area--you can call them to ask for a referral.
posted by vitabellosi at 2:20 PM on December 12, 2011

that is not okay. any decent vet should be able to express anal glands without sedation. to knock out and then wake up a dog (or any animal) is just plain dangerous.
posted by unlucky.lisp at 2:23 PM on December 12, 2011

I would not take my pet back to that vet.

Since you do have other vet options, why don't you explore some of them? Call ahead to schedule a "meet the vet" appointment. A good vet will make friends with your animal, give you a tour of his/her facility and introduce you to the staff, then give you an opportunity to ask questions. You can make it clear from the beginning that you will always want details about treatments and procedures BEFORE they are administered.

Another note: my newfoundland used to have similar issues with her anal glands, which we solved by adding a hearty dollop of canned pumpkin (plain, not pie filling) to her meals. You might ask your new vet about it. :)

Best wishes!
posted by Boogiechild at 2:25 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

There is no way in hell I'd take my baby back to that vet. I would call around some rescue groups as vitabellosi suggests.

Science Diet is gross, trying to sell you invisible fencing, and then sedating your dog out of the blue? Oh hell no.
posted by winna at 2:25 PM on December 12, 2011

And the fact that he said "calm her down" instead of "knock her out" indicates to me that either he was misleading you, or that he messed up the dosage. Both dealbreakers for me.

. . .

In fact, injecting your dog with a sedative that made her stumble around, potentially hurting herself, is an example of how this is dangerous.

Of all the sketchiness of this vet, this is what bothers me the most: it sounds like the vet may have messed up the dose. Their communication level is such that I, as a pet owner, would not feel confident that the outcome is what was intended. I would not feel confident that the next messup would not be more serious.

When our cat had cancer, the veterinary oncologist seriously undercommunicated the post-op recovery period for a surgical biopsy. Even if this is "just" a communication issue, such issues can be tragic. In fact, you may be lucking out by discovering this vet is problematic in this fashion rather than some other fashion.
posted by endless_forms at 2:30 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Just FYI, I've known lots of groomers who will take care of the anal glands as well. Even the ones at the local Pet Chain Store. You might want to check into that. We call it the doggy spa. Thunderdog could get a nice bath and get her butt taken care of. No needles needed.
posted by TooFewShoes at 2:31 PM on December 12, 2011 [5 favorites]

For the gland expressing, most decent groomers will do that alongside nail clipping for an extra couple of bucks.

My dog would not be going back to that vet. She has standards!
posted by merocet at 2:31 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

You were probably trying to tell a full story and trying to answer any questions we might have, but when I was reading your question, I felt like you were falling all over yourself to excuse your reaction to your dog's sedation, the vet's apology and your reaction to the apology. You don't have to make excuses for your feelings, and you don't have to get permission, either to dislike the vet or to return. What do YOU want to do?
posted by runningwithscissors at 2:34 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

This vet lacks good judgement, and the fact that he was sorry about it isn't going to magically endow him with better judgement the next time. There is no fucking way I'd entrust him with my dog.
posted by HotToddy at 2:38 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

I had a dog with an obvious breathing problem (smooth face Boston Terrier). We went to the vet so they could check her out for possible surgery and they basically tried to get us to perform every minute blood, cholesterol bone-scan test they could come up with. Everytime we went to the vet they repeatedly pressured us to do various tests that we had and had not done. Tests that had nothing to do with her issues.

We left them and went to a different vet and I have to say that they are 100x more professional. There appears to be ethical vets and unethical vets. And there is a big difference between them.

So we have established that your vet is lazy, and potentially endangering your dog's life. And that he is driven by the money he might potentially get out of you. I would run from that place so fast. If he isn't trying to get unnecessary blood tests or exams he will in the future.
posted by Napierzaza at 2:40 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

I would never go back to a vet that behaved like this.
posted by malocchio at 2:48 PM on December 12, 2011

Hi all,

Thanks for your responses. I really appreciate it! Some answers to questions asked upthread...

- There are only two vets in my county, and the "other one" did not come well-recommended (although, after this situation, I'm wondering if that's such a bad thing?). If I were to go outside the county, it'd be a 45-minute to hour drive each way. I'd do it, for sure, if I knew that the next vet wouldn't just say "Well, EVERYONE sedates big dogs before expressing anal glands. Except for your previous Magical Vet, of course."

- Regarding "different strokes for different folks" when it comes to food - Nickel Pickle, you're absolutely right. I didn't mean to get all judgy. I used to know a guy who would cook steaks for his dogs twice a day, he couldn't imagine why someone would feed their dog dry dog food. I guess I was Being That Guy.

- Some of you asked why I didn't learn to express her anal glands myself. Well, the Magical Vet DID offer to show me, but I declined. The reason why I don't express her anal glands is the same reason why I don't cut her nails: she hates having it done. She's not violent or anything, but she whines and is unhappy, and when we go to the vet she KNOWS what is going to happen and hides, whines, etc. I don't want to the the person that does that to her. It's worth the $15 four times a year to pay someone else to be the Bad Guy.

Thank you all. We'll do some investigating into whether the Other Vet in the county will do, and if not...well, it's long drives for us (or me learning how to do it, and getting over the Bad Guy thing).

And, here's this year's holiday card for a pic of her. :)
posted by Elly Vortex at 2:48 PM on December 12, 2011 [9 favorites]

Try to get your next vet to teach you how to do the anal glad expression. Its not too difficult to master, and will save you money in the long run.

This. And just from a devils advocate point of view - you didn't see what your last vet did, you had to call and ask. It's possible that the "hold" was something that would have freaked you out and that Dr. Electric fence suspected that your dog would need some major holding and that's why he went with a sedative. (although I don't understand why you didn't have to sign something first.) I agree, if he was going for a specific food then that may have been an effort to stop the issues.

As far as the electric fence, as I understand it from rural vets, country dogs who run lose get hit by cars, caught in traps, shot by people who don't like dogs on their property, and poisoned by stuff they get into. I can see how a country vet would default to at least try this kind of a fence with all his clients.

How did you feel with the vet? What does your gut tell you?
posted by Lesser Shrew at 2:50 PM on December 12, 2011


Over the years, I have noticed a reluctance among some (not all) veterinary professionals to restrain struggling cats, to the point where there seems to have been a tacit expectation that they weren't even going to try and do so - I don't mind getting stuck in, they're our cats and it doesn't matter if we get bitten really, really hard. But I assume that professionals will probably know better and safer techniques for restraining alarmed animals than us, so it does always take me aback a bit when it happens. And obviously 5lb of cat is not 50lb of dog. Nothing gets past me, you know.

I would be extremely cross if the vet went straight to sedation without an attempt at explanation - if they didn't talk to me properly first, how could I explain for example that this cat here had chronic kidney failure and thus anaesthetics / sedatives were Bad News? (In fact, the kidney problems were triggered, I believe to this day, by a vet wading in with a shot of Metacam despite me telling him there and then she was already on it for her arthritis, prescribed by another vet -"Oh I'll just top her up" - whack - and how do you know how much to top her up with if you didn't know how much we had given her today?) The point being, your dog, their new and unfamiliar patient, could have been allergic, or could already have been on something that would have interacted with the sedative and you weren't given the opportunity to explain that properly to the vet.

On preview, if your dog isn't even aggressive when scared, just wriggly and whiny, there's even less excuse for a sedative.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 2:51 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

No. Do not go back. Even if there is only one other vet in the area, try them out. If not, an hour drive will be a hasstle, but worth it. I feel upset and angry just by reading your story. I would never go back. The sales pitches seems to be where he is making his money, but this was your first visit. He didn't even try to gain your confidence, by being a good vet first. Creepy.

If I ever saw my dog knocked out on the ground with her eyes open and tongue out, I would be seriously upset, and there would be hell to pay.
posted by Vaike at 2:54 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

I had a vet that I loved and then we moved. My old vet said to look around and not be hesitant to find someone I liked. His staff was friendly and warmly greeted me and my dog every visit. The first place I tried in the new city was pleasant and professional but not warm and welcoming. My dog gets diarrhea very easily and the new vet wanted to prescribe antibiotics. I explained that I didn't think he had a bug just a sensitive stomach. She kind of got a little short with me and said I thought you me to give you something. I guess in her book, 'something' was antibiotics.

The next vet I tried was friendly. His staff was excited to meet my dog. He gave me free tooth care stuff. So, don't be shy about looking around for another doctor. And if, as you say, there are only two vets, he may feel he's got a lock on the local clientele. See if the groomer can do the anal glands.
posted by shoesietart at 2:57 PM on December 12, 2011

First of all, she's straight up adorable. The sad truth is, though, that our pets do not live as long as we want them to. She will get older and inevitably develop some health problem more serious than the normal "upkeep" issues. When she does, you'll want to trust your vet and you will want this settled before you get there. If, heaven forbid, she has a crisis and things don't go well, you'll blame yourself as well as the doofus vet. It's a pain but change vets now.
posted by Morrigan at 3:32 PM on December 12, 2011 [4 favorites]

We moved this summer, and I drive an hour and a half back to where we used to live to see the vet because I LOVE HIM. I wish he could treat me. I wouldn't go to this vet again. I could live with the recs for shitty food because I have ceased to be amazed at how many veterinary professionals know nothing about nutrition, and the invisible fence shilling, but the sedation for anal glad expression when the dog wasn't being aggressive is just not acceptable in any universe.
posted by crankylex at 4:15 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Well, I'm going to go against the grain and suggest you give this guy another chance, as long as he understands that you are a responsible, educated pet owner.

It's possible that for his usual clientele, Science Diet would be a step up from what they usually feed their animals.

It's also possible that an electric fence is a better option than leaving the dog to run around loose everywhere, or tied up in a yard ignored all day.

So it's quite possible that he was trying to help. Yes, he should have considered your specific situation a little more closely, but maybe he just wasn't thinking. I'm not a vet (just a rescuer), but boy, animal owners never cease to amaze me at the depths of idiocy they can reach, so maybe he thought he was doing you a favor by trying to educate you.

I would, however, question his judgment on the sedative. One thing I've noticed about several of the vets I've visited over the years is that often their vet techs have better animal skills than the vets themselves. So maybe his on-staff "dog whisperer" wasn't available, and he did what he thought was best. But knocking the dog out like that without a full explanation to you was pretty poor bedside manner.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 4:26 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think this is a tough one.

After reading about what the vet did, I was with the GET A NEW VET, STAT crowd.

But the hand written apology says a lot. You just don't see gestures of contrition that much, these days.

I think you are totally justified in moving on to a new vet; but I also think you would be justified to give this one another chance.
posted by jayder at 4:51 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

I think the hand-written apology suggests desperation.

Also, I think Thunderdog is adorable. What a proud pose she's striking.
posted by tomboko at 6:19 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think the handwritten note speaks well of him as a person. He might make an excellent dinner guest, and you'd probably get a thank you note if you sent him some socks for Christmas.

Only, it doesn't sound like he's a very good vet. I'd try the other local option. If that person turns out to be worse, then you have to decide if Dr. Miss Manners is better than a long drive.
posted by looli at 6:33 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Here is the deal. Sadly, dogs don't live as long as humans. At some point, you'll be dealing with your vet on end of life issues. Hopefully, this will be far, far, far in the future, but when it happens you want a vet you trust.

If you will never be able to trust this vet, find a new vet.
posted by 26.2 at 10:38 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Sorry, the hand-written apology is irrelevant. So the vet is a nice guy, and sensitive to the fact that his approach had a negative effect on you.

Doesn't matter. The approach is what matters. And the approach was just plain wrong. What's wrong with the approach is not so much the fact that he sedated Thunderdog, as it is that he really took no time with Thunderdog before deciding to do so. If I've learned one thing through the myriad vets we've been through with our ultra-special-needs cats, it's that the very first thing I'll look for in a vet is compassion and understanding for my animals.

We have a vet who's over an hour away, but though we utilize some local options for certain less-critical situations, we still go to her for the stuff that matters. Because she loves our cats. Truly. She's cried with us, to see them suffer, and cried tears of joy to see them recover. She chastises owners who neglect their pets, and gives us genuine positive reinforcement for the ways we go out of our way to keep ours healthy and happy. She opened her own clinic when she kept getting in trouble at her last one for caring for stray, abandoned pets. She always has a couple of adoptees, roaming the office. She loves her patients.

They can't all be like Dr. Marshall, I know. But that's what you want. Someone who's going to take time to get to know your animal. To care for him as if he were his own. I'm sorry to say that immediate sedation in this scenario is pretty much the antithesis of that idea. And the counterpoint that I've learned to what I mentioned above is that, if he doesn't care now, he never will. You simply cannot trust someone with important decisions for your dog's health, who's willing to take that kind of rash action, without good reason. Find someone else. You and Thunderdog will be happy that you did. Best of luck!
posted by Brak at 10:46 PM on December 12, 2011

Beautiful dog!

I agree that you shouldn't give this guy another chance. The apology is very nice (I mean that sincerely). But it's possible to appreciate and accept an apology without agreeing to all its terms. You can thank someone prettily for their apology while still saying, "I think I'll be trying another vet, but I very much appreciate your having taken the trouble to write to me. It was very thoughtful of you."

It sounds like you had an awful experience. I've taken my pets to the vet a lot and never experienced anything like that. A good vet - hell, a normal vet will explain to you exactly what s/he's going to do and what the effect will be.
posted by rubbish bin night at 12:59 AM on December 13, 2011

All other events aside, I find him pushing invisible fencing on owners while their dog is out on the table, trapped there while ALREADY PAYING FOR HIS SERVICES, to be super-sleazy. I'd be all "If I agreed to look at a bunch of ads while I am a prisoner here, would you at least shut your hole?"

You should find a vet that you like. If you don't enjoy their company, then you are less likely to start casual conversations about your dog's health or ask tough questions when you need more in-depth advice.
posted by Foam Pants at 10:32 AM on December 13, 2011

This guy is Not A Good Vet. The apology note is a nice, considerate action (though the suggestion of desperation should perhaps be given some attention), but being a considerate human being and being a good vet are two completely different things. He shouldn't get a pass on being a bad vet just because he might be a nice guy, or has enough of a sense of self-preservation to do some damage control after the fact. His actions were still unprofessional and may have put your dog in the way of serious harm, esp. if he did misjudge the dose.

Definitely find yourself a better vet; perhaps schedule a maintenance checkup with the other one nearby to see what kind of vibe you get from them. The best thing you can do for your dog is to not entrust her health to someone who has this approach to veterinary care.

You seem, as runningwithscissors mentioned, to be willing to cut this vet a lot of slack because of the apology. Perhaps, instead of "giving him another chance" as a reward for his note, write back and say thank you, but I won't be returning to your practice because X, Y, Z. Some subjects to mention could be: sedating your dog without explaining what he was doing and getting your explicit consent, attempting to hard sell you products without starting a conversation to determine your and your dog's needs or preferences first.

If you want to do something good, the best thing you can do for this guy, as a veterinary professional, is to show the consequences of his unprofessional action (losing your business), and give feedback as to what he did wrong, and why you will not be returning to his office. It may not change his behaviour in the long run, but at least he will know why you don't want him to work with your dog anymore, and this may help clear up the mystery of other lost patients if other people have reacted similarly.
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 11:30 AM on December 13, 2011

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