This brings us right to the next point: anesthesia
Whenever a procedure involving anesthesia is suggested that seems rather of cosmetic nature than life-saving or quality-of-life-enhancing for the dog, ask yourself if it is really necessary.
Bull Terriers have small organs compared to their outer physique. Especially kidneys, heart and liver are at risk during anesthesia for surgery and when long-term medication is in place.
Of course, sometimes there is no way around a surgery or medication.
But the best thing always is to avoid the avoidable and to skip unnecessary procedures and save your dog the risks that come with anesthesia.
Next decision point: Which therapies are being suggested?
A very good indicator if you have found a good vet is the kind of treatments and medication that are recommended. Let’s take the very popular problem of allergies in Bull Terriers, for example:
Often when owners appear at the vet’s office with a dog struggling with allergies and infection, for example, the first things are antibiotics and steroids. This is not a bad thing – unless the therapy ends there. Antibiotics are good for a quick relief and recovery from acute symptoms but they do nothing at all about the allergy. Learn more in this article.
If the doctor does not mention anything about side effects (EVERY medication has them) or plays them down or if steroids and antibiotics continue to be the first suggestion at future visits that should tell you that this office is trying to please you with continuous fast results but is sadly not doing the best job it could do for your dog and is not focussing on the real problem together with you. A good vet would talk to you about the search for the causes of the allergy, options for testing and the negative long-term effects of frequent antibiotic and steroid application on your dog.
Which products are suggested?
Many offices have cooperations with certain pharmaceutical companies or manufacturers of pet food and supplements for special health conditions. But just because they can recommend these brands and sell them to you right after the exam, that doesn’t mean that these products are always your only or your best option.
Sometimes it comes down to prices and these products are sold for a much higher price at the vet’s office than you would pay elsewhere.
Our vet sells our flea and tick medication right at their office, too. They even have their own online store. BUT, their prices are fair, reasonable and competitive. I’ve thoroughly checked that. This I consider extra service which I happily make use of. I am not forced to buy at the office nor am I being tricked into it. It’s an option I can choose or leave.
That leads to the next important question you can ask yourself: Does your vet’s office issue prescriptions or only sell their own medicine?
A vet who is selling the products he/she is recommending may not even mention or write you a prescription but rather sell those products to you directly. But just because a vet is not offering to issue a prescription that does not mean that he/ she does not do it on demand or that he/she is not required to do it. Of course, if the vet’s office can sell you their products at their conditions and prices, offering a prescription for you to take somewhere else will not be the first thing they’ll do. To that point we can consider this just business and … yeah, well, kind of acceptable.
If you are an informed owner you know that you still have the option to ask for a prescription.
So, just try ist! If the case is not too urgent try and ask if you can get a prescription instead of buying at the vet’s office in order to get the product at the best price you can find somewhere else. Be honest with that – this is your right as a customer.
The vet’s office HAS to issue a prescription if you want it and can not force you to buy from them if the products are also available somewhere else.
There may exist actual reasons for not issuing a prescription. But the explanation for that should be solid and comprehensible and should not give you that gut feeling that you are just being fooled. If the office finds funny reasons to deny you a prescription and even comes up with fishy “legal explanations” … you know what comes next … RUN!
In other cases buying somewhere else is not (or not only) a matter of prices but a matter of options and quality.
This is often the case with foods and supplements. Some brands for special nutrition have managed to push their way into the large chains and their vet offices. And the sale of these products is then being pushed by the vets on-site.
One example is kibble for dogs with kidney problems. This product – no matter the brand – has already a huge problem in itself for a dog with impaired kidney function:
First of all, kibble is designed for the convenience of the dog’s owner. A neat bag with perfectly portionable little bits. No messes, no mixing of ingredients, no thinking involved. Don’t get me wrong, I am using this convenience myself. I am feeding 50% raw and 50% high-quality kibble at the moment. But if my Bull Terrier turned out to have kidney problems kibble would no longer be an option for me.
The reason is that most dogs with kidney problems should simply not be fed kibble because it makes a higher intake of fluids necessary for the digestion and the kidneys have more stress when metabolizing the kibble. Therefore I find it odd in itself to offer a specially formulated kibble product for dogs with kidney problems. But that’s just me.
We as owners today have to do some real thinking and research in order to make the best decisions because many of our vets will likely not do it for us.
How to identify a good vet based on a food discussion
A good vet will also show you different options and encourage you to compare products. A good vet will educate you on which ingredients to avoid in a pet food and will maybe even discuss the route of a raw nutrition with you, at last if you ask.
If your vet is not very experienced with nutrition that is not a bad thing as long as he/she is being honest with you about it. It would be bad to just sell you anything and not tell you that he/she is just selling the promise of a salesman to you without having a clue about the product. If you really listen and check back on your gut feeling you will notice the difference between being in a sales pitch or receiving actually good advice.