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The Daily Vet by petMD

The Daily Vet is a blog featuring veterinarians from all walks of life. Every week they will tackle entertaining, interesting, and sometimes difficult topics in the world of animal medicine – all in the hopes that their unique insights and personal experiences will help you to understand your pets.

Can You Trust Your Vet's Advice?

Last week ABC aired a segment on 20/20 describing the story of a former veterinarian who was “forced” to leave the profession because he often felt compelled to recommend what he considered unnecessary tests and procedures on otherwise healthy pets in order to maintain revenue.


In the opening scene, he describes an instance where he instructed owners to simply monitor a mass they noticed on their dog’s skin because he strongly felt it was benign.  The practice owner, a senior veterinarian, caught wind of his conservative recommendation and openly chastised him.


The “less experienced” veterinarian stated that he was directly instructed by his superior to instill fear in the owners by mentioning the “C word” (cancer) to describe the mass, thereby implying it was something more insidious.


Naturally, once concern for a malignant tumor was raised, the owners conceded to testing the mass. The results confirmed it was a benign fatty tumor.


To an unsuspecting owner, this story could easily incite anger and reinforce the idea that veterinarians are truly in it solely “for the money.” It also could call into question whether they truly needed to have the skin lump checked out in the first place. After all, it’s going to cost “X” many dollars just to walk through the door, and then “X” many dollars for an unnecessary test, because they saw on TV that a “good” vet can tell whether something is concerning or not based on appearance.


We are taught in veterinary school the exact opposite of what this portion of the program suggested: It is impossible to determine if a skin tumor is benign or malignant based on appearance or feel alone. At minimum, it is ingrained into us that every skin mass should be tested with a fine needle aspirate and cytology, and if this relatively simple and non-invasive test is inconclusive, a biopsy should be considered.


Eighty percent of skin masses in dogs and cats will be benign and 20 percent will be malignant. How do we know this? Because veterinarians recommend testing all lumps and bumps when they are noticed!


As an oncologist, I see far too many cases where owners are told to just “watch” a skin tumor with absolutely disastrous results. Tumors that were present for years can turn out to be high-grade cancers. The longer a tumor is present, the greater the chance for invasive growth, which could ultimately render it non-resectable, and also increase the chance for spread to distant sites in the body.


A subplot of the program included a portion where the reporters conducted an “investigation,” where they brought two dogs (previously determined to be healthy by the same veterinarian) to nearby veterinary clinics and secretly recorded what transpired in the exam room.


The doctors concurred the pets were very healthy, yet several recommended they both could benefit from a dental cleaning as a means to address underlying minor oral disease. The footage clearly showed the vets physically pointing out their concerns by showing the owners the dogs’ mouths and what they were worried about. The upshot of the piece was that the veterinarians were recommending an unnecessary and overtly risky procedure designed solely to generate income at the expense of the pets’ health and the owners’ wallets.


The most concerning part to me occurred when a veterinarian clearly shows the owner a mass on her dog’s gingiva (otherwise known as the “gumline”), yet this is completely ignored by the reporters and not addressed in the segment.


I can cite multiple examples of patients I’ve seen where oral tumors were incidentally diagnosed and biopsied during “routine” dental cleanings, and here we are staring at a patient with a visible oral mass, where the doctor is recommending something be done as soon as possible, and this aspect of preventative care is completely overlooked. 


Veterinary care is expensive, and I know not every owner can afford every test or every procedure I may recommend. Alternatively, I know not every veterinarian practices with the same ethics and morals I consider to be “standard of care.”


However, denigrating the value of preventative medicine does nothing to enhance the value of the work we do, and ultimately creates additional expense for the average pet owner.


We accept routine dental care for ourselves. We schedule mammograms and colonoscopy procedures with the hope of a clean bill of health, but if something concerning should be found, it can be addressed at an early stage. Why then do we call into question the ethics of veterinarians who recommend a similar standard of care for our pets?


Routine preventative medicine is still the single most effective means to avoid significant health issues as pets age, and would certainly be more effective in diagnosing cancer at an earlier, and likely more treatable, stage. 


I’ve developed a thick skin over the few years I’ve practiced my craft. However, as is true for many professions, there are times when the daily grind becomes a bit unbearable. Watching this news segment tweaked an already inflamed nerve for me.


I’ve stated before how the veterinary profession is replete with accusation and is relatively absent of gratitude. Yet I still hold hope that the general public who watched this segment would see beyond the sensationalism and understand the bias.


Savvy pet owners should understand the difference, and recognize the value of preventing problems rather than treating them after the fact.


Dr. Joanne Intile


Image: Alexander Rath / Shutterstock


Comments  26

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  • 3 vets later
    11/27/2013 08:43pm

    Well in honesty in August 2012 my precious Sam was rushed to the Emergency Vet where after 5 days was diagnosed with diabetes. So from August -April I started giving insulin and learning all I could about pet diabetes. In April through the advice of my vet I had my Sam tested for Cushings..because he had a few bald spots,when I picked him up he was very very ill to the point of his body shutting down the next day. Keep in mind my Sam who was a 12lb Pomeranian and turned 10 years old Feb 02 2013. I brought Sam in to the vet the next day they told me I needed to put him down they also told me he had full blown cushings as well had now developed a "retching" that the vet also told me was a brain tumor or seizures..keep in mind he had never done this retching prior to that all day visit at the vets for cushings test. . Not understanding how my beloved Sam had been very well and happy go lucky til that morning of the cushings test and all day stay at the vets clinic, I took my Sam to a second vet, where she also tested for cushings found he did not have cushings and the "retching" was caused from Pancreatitis. We also discovered a LARGE hemotoma on Sams neck. When I asked the first vet how he got that hemotoma on his neck...they told me it happens when they draw blood however the "retching" was now a mystery. Now after 4 weeks of being treated for pancreatitis as well as the second vet like the first discouraging me from home testing sams BG levels, the second vet told me to continue giving Sam 3 units of insulin 2x a day whether he ate or not , and because his bg levels always ran high to always treat him accordingly! I knew this was bad advice I wound up and forwarded both previous vet records to a 3rd vet. which after reviewing all of the records from the previous vets, keep in mind Sam also had gone by this point from 12lbs to 10lbs down to 8 lbs. Not one of the previous vets ever reduced his insulin even knowing he had lost weight and wasn't eating much. I started home testing in May, keeping logs and everything by this time I started reducing his insulin after talking with others on a pet diabetic support group, and after Sam had nearly gone into a diabetic coma after the second vet gave him almond sugar water! The retching Sam had acquired was still a mystery however the second vet indicated it was caused from pain through pancreatitis and had sam on pain, ant nausea and ant acids..The 3rd vet then reviewed my home testing log and told me that Sam had been on WAY to much insulin and we had reduced him down to 1 unit 2x a day, also I had the third vet do every test needed and found that not only was Sam being treated for pancreatitis but the second vet never even tested him for such a thing and found he didnt even have pancreatitis! The retching that he started doing the day following his cushings test we found through an xray that Sam had a swollen esphogas...By the time we finally found all this out, after taking Sam to 3 vets following April 30 2013,and 1500.00 later, it was too late for my Sam and he passed away! Breaking my heart and leaving me in complete devastation on June 06 2013 My world changed and I know every vet treats differently however I honestly believe as well have learned that the first 2 vets knew very little about treating Pet Diabetes and my third vet actually spoke with a specialist many times during his treatment of my beloved sam.

    So needless to say this has put a very sour taste in my mouth and a very large hole in my heart as Sam was my furbaby and my world, every vet I took him to money was not an option but rather testing and doing everything possible to find out why he had gone from such a happy go lucky little guy the night before his cushings test to a little furbaby barely hanging onto life when I picked him up at 4:30 p.m April 30. I wasn't expecting them to play God however what I was trusting was they had knowledge of treating a diabetic pet as well as had his best interest and care at heart. I trusted each of them with my entire life in their hands to know what I know now about pet diabetes and learning how 2 vets knew so little and cost my beloved Sam his life. And yes I loved him so much that on a Sunday at 9:p.m when I looked at my precious Sam I knew I had to put myself aside and do what was best for him, he was exhausted and I could tell he needed me to make the worst and hardest decision I could ever have to make

    It is heartbreaking to believe that some vets I believe are only concerned about padding their pocket books and not realizing that to some people their pets are truly their everything and will do whatever possible to make sure their pet is taken care of the best way

    To this day i cry every single day and miss him horribly and still can not wrap my brain around the fact that not only was the cushings test unnecessary but also the treatment he received directly afterwards and being treated for things he never was even tested for was the cause of his passing.

    My third vet I have the deepest gratitude for as he took great care and went to great lengths talking to a specialist because the retching was indeed a mystery as Sam had never done that prior to the cushings test..he was amazing and very open and honest about what he did and did not know about pet diabetes.

    I live with the guilt of taking my precious Sam in for that cushings test because I declined it 3 times prior throughout August to April because after doing research Sam never really exhibited symptoms and the 2 vets following after reviewing Sams vet records stated the same however the first vet actually scared me into believing the test was life or death for Sam so I agreed.

    Sorry this was so long...to this day I can not believe that Sam is gone all because of being treated for things he never even had. The ending blood tests also revealed Sam liver kidney and everything was perfect..so my third vet was surprised when Sam passed

    Heartbreaking to this day

  • 11/28/2013 01:28am

    I'm just a vet here that's passing through. I'm so sorry for your loss of Sam. For what it's worth, I doubt any of the vets were just trying to pad their pockets with Sam's case. From everything you're describing he was a very complicated case, and unfortunately those do often end up being expensive when we run diagnostics to try to figure out what the heck is going on. Some of us are better at figuring these things out than others, but I can honestly say I've never known I or my colleagues to recommend tests just for the money. We recommend them in order to have a better grasp of what we're treating. The 20/20 segment Dr. Intile details was extremely biased and sensationalist reporting.
    Veterinarians do not enter this profession because we care about money; the vast majority of us are here because we care about animals. You'd be hard-pressed to find a single one of us that doesn't have animals of our own and who doesn't understand how you're feeling when your animal is as sick as Sam was. I recently had a very difficult time diagnosing my own cat with an unusual presentation of an illness; it took me months. I ran every test under the sun. And then when I finally figured out what as wrong, all I could think about was that if I was not a veterinarian, I'd wonder if I wasn't either a) trying to rip me off b) a terrible diagnostician or c) all of the above. The truth was just that she was a difficult case, and I was assured by multiple colleagues they likely would not have figured it out as quickly as I did. Somehow this was little solace for me, however.

  • 11/28/2013 03:21am

    As another veterinarian, I can see exactly why you would be frustrated and I can also see what happened as the case went along. Diabetes and Cushings AND pancreatitis are extremely difficult disease conditions to diagnose; Pomeranians are notorious for these conditions, and the older they are, the more likely there are other complications. The diseases can also wax and wane, so that on any one day, one condition looks like a far bigger problem than the other two---and then it may change yet again. Each veterinarian had the benefit of the testing and diagnostics of the previous two. These are NOT easy conditions to define and treat, and not all patients read the medical texts, so they may not even respond in a predictable manner. In a "human" hospital, patients may suffer the same things we see in veterinary practice and even with many physicians involved in a case, sometimes the diagnostics and even the outcomes are very difficult.
    I am very sorry for the loss of your little one. It is never easy to lose someone we love.

  • 11/30/2013 07:28pm

    I don't know what happened as I was typing my last comment lol.
    Anyhow Sam was diagnosed with diabetes in August 2012 and up until April 30 2013 for that Cushing test he was doing very well, of course like any diabetic pet he had his moments..But overall he was a happy go lucky lil fella and did not have any issues to speak of.
    I brought Sam in every week to be weighed etc I think his highest BG level at the vets office was 286. (During August to April) However after learning more about canine diabetes the fact is a one time reading and a lot of factors play a part in the BG reading.
    The fact that 2 vets completely discouraged me from home testing telling me it was a waste of time…costing me 20.00 a BG Reading not to mention the few times I was uncertain and rushed him in to emergency just to have his Bg tested to make sure he was ok…...after learning home testing is very important to managing a diabetic pet. Basing an insulin dosage on a one visit once a week as well as never performing a BG curves, Sam was at 11-12 lbs the entire time which was a healthy weight for him ( 10-12 lbs the vet told me and to make sure I maintained and he didn’t gain.) He was a purebred teddy bear pom.....However keep in mind after the Cushing’s test Sam went from 12lbs to 10lbs to 8 lbs not one of the 2 vets ever even thought about checking or adjusting his insulin even though they knew Sam was not eating like he was prior to the Cushing’s test, as the second vet told me to limit his food as he had pancreatitis that remind you he did not have nor did he have it prior to the Cushing’s test. He also acquired a retching and large hematoma which again that he did not have and had acquired the day being at the vets for the Cushing’s test. The sad part is I dropped Sam off a happy go lucky fella, in spite of the fact the vet told me not to fed, water or give him insulin the night before. When I picked him up he was soaking wet…I asked the vet “why he was wet” the vet told me “because people kept filling his water bowl not knowing someone else has just filled it” therefore my Sam sat in the vets kennel soaking wet from the water they kept giving him and he kept throwing it up. They knew this yet sent him home and told me not to feed him and to limit his water to 2 tblesp. Every couple hours, next day I took him in the morning and he was dehydrated.
    I know every vet treats differently however there are some things that when it comes to diabetic pet as I have learned should never ever differ. Unfortunately I started home testing in May after the second vet gave Sam almond sugar water because he was low, which she argued with me when I insisted she take Sams BG telling me he generally ran high and to always assume and treat him accordingly! so when she tested him, as I knew my Sammy well and could tell he was off I just didnt know which way he was off.... yet she failed to mention I needed to feed him something or else he would crash again…this I learned as my Sam was going into a diabetic shock when I got home 30 minutes later and the diabetic support group helped me through it. As well as when I started home testing realizing how important it is to home test and monitor….and wish I would have started way before…it would have saved me a lot of money not to mention stress.
    Do I believe the first 2 vets were just padding their pocketbooks? Absolutely! Telling me home testing was a waste of time and that I had to bring Sam in for a BG reading once a week cost me $20.00 each time, uncertain times rushing him to just have a BG test done cost me 100.00/visit, (when yes I could have saved a lot of money as well as the Bg readings would have been way more accurate than a one time reading once a week!) Insulin and syringes that I purchased from the first vet from August to April cost me 100.00 and syringes 2.50/10 about 15.00 /month when I could have purchased a less expensive insulin or the same insulin for way way less as I learned later on from my 3rd vet.

    I do not believe ALL vets are bad, like I mentioned the 3rd vet was amazing, he actually took the time to call a specialist and try to figure out why my Sam had ALL OF A SUDDEN gotten so ill from being at the first vets clinic for an all day Cushing’s test and acquired all these new things such as the retching from being in the care of the first vet, but what I do believe with every beat of my heart is that they were the cause of my beloved Sam passing. To be honest I wish I could believe that Sam just had problems all along and such but the sad and devastating truth is he didn't, not until the Cushing’s test.

    If the vet would have told me there was even a SLIGHT possibility that Sam would get very ill and acquire all the new problems he did afterwards from the result of that Cushing’s test TRUST ME I would have never ever had that test done ever, I would have never jeopardized my best friends life NEVER.

  • Super-Vet
    11/27/2013 11:10pm

    "if something concerning should be found, it can be addressed at an early stage. Why then do we call into question the ethics of veterinarians who recommend a similar standard of care for our pets?"


    I, too, saw the 20/20 segment and cursed quite loudly because all some people will hear is the bad part. It was almost under their breath that they said that most vets did a great job and didn't try to take advantage of the clients.

    I'm a firm believer in trying to find things early and will authorize biopsies or non-invasive tests. My vet is very cautious about invasive "anything" and always considers the animal. For instance, if surgery will provide a diagnosis of one of 3 things, but nothing can be done for any of them, he will very strongly advise against the surgery. After all, why put Fluffy/Fido through surgery and all it will do is give the problem a name?

    I read stories like Safari Sam's (previous comment) and it breaks my heart that everyone can't have a vet like mine.

  • Consult best Vet
    11/28/2013 06:13pm

    Yes we have to trust on our Vet's advice but if any confusion we must consult another Vet and try to ask our doubt. We have to know the cause of problem and proper treatment before proceed.

  • Veterinary competency
    11/30/2013 10:07am

    I am a good cat mommy, taking my cats in regularly and not just when something was wrong. My issue is with misdiagnosis and incompetency. I took Leeloo from friends who simply didn't take care of her. Immediately had her examined, treated for an ear infection, and then returned again for increasing red bumps on her hairless belly. I was informed that skin allergies and conditions were extremely difficult to diagnose, couldn't commit to diet trials, and agreed to cortisteroid injection. The newest addition to my kitty family didn't take as well as the others. This tiny girl despised her new companions, and peace no longer reigned. I fell madly in love anyway. I returned over and over when her skin would become inflamed. I wasn't eager to over medicate and scheduling appointments took time, and sometimes she would lick herself raw almost overnight. I would ask again for a diagnosis and was discouraged when the cost and lack of success were presented. Then increased breathing efforts starting becoming evident. Vet said the Xray showed a herniated diaphragm, surgery was risky, and she would suffocate sooner rather than later. I was inconsolable and tried to cherish her my every waking moment. She was fine, played, ate, and slept. I noticed the Depo shots seemed to help and was told it was anti inflammatory effects. Wondered how that would help guts in the lung cavity. A blessed year went by before her breathing difficulties weren't alleviated with the shots. More Xrays, his substitute vet said she could not say it was a diaphragmatic hernia and recommended specialists. Skip forward to today. She has Thymoma and the mass has been slowly growing for who knows how long. I'm racing against time to work with an oncologist, critical care vet, surgeon, and applying for a small grant so I can save her life. Surgery, post op meds, etc estimated at $4000. On top of $1500 for recent tests and visits. He had plenty of opportunities to suggest a specialist or additional testing. I often remarked that it was amazing she was still with me. Was it ego that prevented him from second guessing himself? The specialists are very clear on the fact that the next test might not yield useful results, but that this progression of tests are preferable to going straight to the OR. I have lost confidence in veterinary medicine because I expected doctors and procedures to be equally effective as those for humans. It seems more like a speculative crap shoot at best. I took her to the vet ALL the time and he failed us.

  • 11/30/2013 04:36pm

    He did not fail you.
    You made active and informed choices all along the way, sometimes from financial concerns and sometimes from an inability to commit to being able to treat.
    Your personal physician would have referred you to a dermatologist, internist (perhaps,) possibly an endocrinologist and or immunologist. Insurance or public assistance would have covered SOME (if not all--less likely) of that cost and you would have never seen the entire amount of financial investment involved, as you do in veterinary medicine.
    Corticosteroids are not without significant risk, which, in every good practice, is explained to the owner before they are used. Too many people opt for the "quick fix," however. In some cases, that is ALL that can be done, and I fully acknowledge this, but in many more cases, the "allergy shot" (corticosteroid) is chosen because it is quick, easy, and cheap, and works very well in the short run.
    Thymomas can certainly occur without prior risk factors, without prior warning or medications; they are hard to diagnose and the exact cause is still unknown.
    While it is easy to blame your veterinarian for this sad event, there is more to your story than blaming him for "letting you down." Veterinarians can only do so much; in most states, pets are still property and the OWNER makes the final decision as far as treatment options as well as advanced diagnostics.
    With radiation, there is a 75% success rate in feline thymoma. I wish the very best for your kitty.

  • 12/06/2013 11:45am

    She was living with Thymoma for a year not the congenital diaphragmatic hernia he diagnosed her with. He did not refer me to any specialists for that because he said there was no real viable treatments. At no point did he recommend more testing to see if it could be something else. Even 6 months ago she would have been in a better position for thoracic surgery. And I would have had more options. I have insurance on one of my other cats, the maximum benefit is $2000, helpful but I've paid more in premiums over the years with his policy. Leeloo's surgery and tests will amount to $8000 if I'm lucky.

  • 12/06/2013 11:55am

    It is my impression the Depo shots actually helped slow the growth of the mass until I had the presence of mind to ask for new Xrays.

  • 12/13/2013 12:54am

    It is a known fact that cortisone, which has a boosting short term effect, will also lower the immune system. I have had 9 different tumours in my multicat household, and corticosteroids were only used at the end of their life, to improve their well- being until the time had come to let them go..
    By depressing the immune system, corticosteroids drugs will also increase the spread of the tumour cells, not otherwise.

  • 12/13/2013 03:32am

    What you say is not correct. Overdosing and high dosing and extended use of corticosteroids absolutely can suppress the immune system. What you are not acknowledging is that corticosteroids (in the right hands, not in a Guesstimator's hands) are ESSENTIAL for the best treatment options in countless diseases, including a wide range of cancers and tumors and autoimmune diseases. These pronouncements are cruel when you do not know what you are saying, and best left unsaid when you are expressing an opinion---in this case an erroneous one.

  • 12/13/2013 03:46pm

    YOU don't know what you are saying. There is a LOT I left out of my report, which I won't go into, but I have had dogs since I was 2 yrs. old and now, let's say I am over 60. There was not enough room to say the things that really happened, but every word I put into this was true. If you want my sound advice, I will pick the TRUE vet the next time and no one will give my animals anything until I get a 2nd or 3rd opinion! That is how much I love my dogs. Don't abuse someone until you know the entire truth and I didn't put it down. I am heartsick over my dog dying and I will not get over it. You see, I am an "animal" person. I will and have picked up abused animals and took them to the vet. I have found decent homes for those that are mistreated or the owner can't handle them any longer, just to mention a few. I know what I am saying and I am saying the truth. Truth never hurt anyone!

  • 12/12/2013 10:58pm

    A good cat mommy knows when to let go. Its selfish to put your cat through these exams and pain when there is no cure or end in sight. The idea that animal we love must live no matter what is abusive. To force an animal to undergo such tests or treatments with no end in sight is extremely cruel. There is no perfect animal as there is no perfect human. As a society we have placed far too much emphasis on the sanctity of life when its better to let an animal go easing their pain. To bring this idea into the animal realm is just plain cruel as their lives are very short. This mania for having no kill shelters no matter what condition the animal is in is insane. How much pain has this animal endured just to make you happy because you can't let go of your love interest. I am sorry for your loss but you must ask yourself is this for me or is it truly for the animal. If they are in ill health requiring ongoing treatments with no end in sight just who are you taking care of here?

  • 12/13/2013 03:39am

    Sir, you should not be on this thread. Your comments are cruel, ill-informed, erroneous, and just plain wrong. Attacking others who care about their pets indicates problems that these good people don't need to be subjected to, and your views are truly ignornat and hateful. Your stance against neutering is archaic and anti-scientific and against sound medical knowledge and research and you are intentionally misleading people---obviously you are a breeder or broker, and have a vested financial interest and not the best interests of the animals, the owners, or the community. I hope they remove your remarks before some person takes any of your misinformation and cruel statements to heart.

  • 12/18/2013 02:21am

    Thank you for being the first and only person to recognize the sheer cruelty of that post. I know that vet med must be difficult and limited due to many reasons, cats instinctively hide weakness/illness, they can not explain in English if something is wrong, and perhaps not as much has been discovered in feline diseases (in relation to human med). The Depo shot did reduce inflammation and perhaps slowed the growth of the Thymoma. Unfortunately, by the time it was operated on, it was enormous. Radiation therapy was not locally available and not a viable solution at this point. She didn't make it as she progressively declined post-op. It's been too painful for me to call the specialists and ask what they think went wrong. My uneducated guess is brain damage due to a severe drop in blood pressure while under anesthetic.
    A year ago, maybe less, my vet knew I was interested in surgery to correct the "diaphragmatic hernia" but advised it was effective in trauma cases not congenital. My feeling is that even 6 months ago she would have had better chances of recovery. I could have asked him to check again, but feel that its not my place, not to mention insulting.
    What should I have done or rather - what should I do in the future to ensure the best care for the right ailments?

  • 12/18/2013 02:30am

    The treatment for her condition had a very good prognosis, with surgery potentially being curative, and the average extended life of five years.

  • Vets with an agenda.
    12/12/2013 10:41pm

    One of the things I am seeing more and more are what I call propaganda vets who have bought into the animal rights movement of no more breeding at all. They demand that you spay or neuter your pet before providing basic treatment despite the facts that studies who spaying and neutering are not in the best interest of the animal. Studies show that neutering animals before maturity causes problems in the growth patterns in the bones and brains of the animals. That it shortens the life of your pet and gives no benefits to male dogs or cats and only offers one or two benefits to female dogs and cats. In fact it causes all kinds of health problems such as obesity, incontinence, aggression in female dogs etc. I find these vets who are pushing their ideology onto the unsuspecting public to be less than honorable. Also if we spay and neuter everything in sight where will your next pet come from.

  • 12/13/2013 01:05am

    You obviously seem to be unaware than over 3 MILLION pets are being euthanized in shelters all over the US every year!! These are often perfectly healthy animals, some very young, kittens or puppies, who were dumped for all sorts of reasons, bcs people move, or due to family changes,or bcs they went " unsold" by backyard breeders,
    all of these poor animals whose birth was unplanned ( how do you expect a no neutered female cat that goes out NOT to come back one day being pregnant?!) end up killed sometimes in a very brutal manner ( gas chambers or heartstick " shelters" ) and have known no love and care in their sometimes very short life.
    I suggest you document yourself on this issue before considering that it is "unhealthy" not to let your pet breed. I have had dogs and cats, all lived to a late or very late age, and some were neutered as early as 4 months, as they were formerly feral. No incontinence, no obesity, no behavioural issues...

    I wonder what " studies" you refer to then.

    Any serious professional in the field will discourage leaving a female cat or dog unspayed because the incidence of mammary tumours is by far greater in those.
    Other issues related to fixed males prove likewise that they live to be much older and in better health than their unfixed counterparts.

  • AllyMb
    12/13/2013 02:05am

    I have had a hard time accepting my dog of 7 1/2 yrs. is dead. She died Tues. the 3rd of Dec. and I am heartbroken. First, I blame myself for giving her the chicken treats that were made in China. Usually, I buy what is made in the U.S. but I let that one go since she and the other small dog I have loved them so much. I even gave one each morning to Sam, my German Shepherd, but he died at age 13 yrs. from a stroke. But I just can't get over Sadee. She had the diabetes 1 yr. and 2 months. I gave her insulin when she was supposed to have it. She lost weight tremedously down to 22 lbs. from 45 lbs. in about 2 wks. time. We had just moved and she was trying to adjust and got sick. I took her to the doctor and she looked her over and gave her some medicine. Then she lost the weight and I took her to the vets promptly. She was diagnosed with diabetes because that was the only thing that was out of the ordinary from her blood test. So I treated her and read about every article on the internet I could to adjust myself to it. She went blind in both eyes about 3 months after she was diagnosed. She didn't gain weight back right, she had something wrong. Her head was small and her stomach was large. I took her in about 3 times after that to get her adjusted to the shots and how much to give her, leaving her overnight each time I took her in. The last time I had her in to the hospital was to get a rabies shot, along with the other dog. I was told frankly they didn't like to treat 2 dogs at once, but would take them. This made me mad, but I didn't say anything. They gave them the shots along with the heartworm medicine ( which they did tests for) and treated the smaller dog for losing her hair and said she would be fine. When we started to leave, the vet looked at Sadee and said something about her stomach. I told her she had been like that the times I had her in before and she said if she got like that worse to let her know ASAP. She died this Dec.3. I was so mad, the dog was like that, she didn't get any worse, they had had her 3 times overnight, and had me paying back around $2000 and I added more to it. To make a long story short, I believe they knew what they were doing, they didn't pay attention to her since she was like that when she gained the weight back. She did not change. I was given a different doctor the 4th time I was in there and I just don't think she paid attention to the dog. I liked the other doctor better. But, Sadee is now gone and I know she is better. She suffered with the diabetes badly until the last month. She seemed to get better, started to act like herself more than at any other time since we have been here. I think she knew and she wanted to be with me like she was. I got up on Tuesday and she was not steady on her feet. She acted like she barely could stand, but standing she was. I let them both outside and she came directly back in and made it about 5 steps inside and down she went. I stayed with her from around 4:15 am to 9:00 am, and she died. She stayed on her stomach until 30 min. before she died, she layed on her side and stretched her feet out. She started to cry in pain and I started to pray. She stopped crying in pain and went on. That dog was the sweetest dog I have every had. She was mixed up in gender a lot, the only thing I could tell she had in her was Eskimo Spitz because of the pale blue eye she had. The rest was really mixed several more genders. But she still was the sweetest dog I have ever had!! She is sorely missed by me. I have always had my dogs around 13 yrs., one collie was 18 yrs. old before he died. She was only 7 1/2 yrs. and had the diabetes since she was a little over 6 yrs. She didn't have any signs of it where I used to live. She was so full of life there. And may I say one thing before I close, Sadee was smart too. I never had to correct her on anything, just tell her no or yes and she understood. I loved her and will always think of her!

  • Behind the scenes
    12/13/2013 06:58am

    I was a commercial photographer in Chicago and did work for a major vet supply manufacture through an advertising agency. I got to see the behind the scenes of several ‘well thought of vet hospitals’. Two stories. First is the most gruesome. While waiting for the operating room to set me up for my shot, I was talking to the vet who was operating on this little dog who broke its leg three times. Twice the vet placed a steel plate in the dog. Dog kept breaking the leg under the plate. The third time the vet told the woman to put down the poor dog. Woman said no. She wanted another plate put in. Vet complied. Now while he had the dog split open and talking to me, he was smoking and the ashes were dropping into the dog. After surgery dog was sent to recovery; don’t know what happened after that. But smoking during an operation and dropping ashes inside the dog! Second story. Another vet’s office. After surgery of a 70#+ dog, the assistant picked up the dog from the operating table and was taking it to recovery. On the way there, she dropped the dog on the floor; about three feet or so. Then just dragged the dog to a corner to let it recover.

  • 12/13/2013 03:59pm

    This is a true comment. I don't want anything to do with doctors like this. I have lived in this area about a 1 1/2 yrs. and I lived in my home about 2 hrs. away over 50 yrs. I had a vet that I loved dearly. He was kind, strict and told you truthfully what he wanted you to do for your pet. He didn't do anything unless he was positive he needed to and my pets got along fine. Sadee got along fine with him and she never made for me or the door when she saw him as she did here. I wish I could find another vet like him. I am thinking on calling or writing to him to see if he knows of a vet in my area. You don't know how many times I have wished I had taken Sadee back to him when she was diagnosed to make sure of what they were doing was the correct thing.

  • Regulation of Vets
    12/15/2013 08:47pm

    Please can I ask readers to sign this petition calling for tighter regulation of vets in the UK. It can be signed by residents of other countries, not just the UK. There are also similar petitions for some states in the US.
    Many Thanks.


  • Great article!
    12/26/2013 08:37pm

    Thank you for sharing your professional perspective on the 20/20 story! I'll be featuring it in my 2013 year end review of what I feel are the top five PetMD Daily Vet articles.
    Dr. Patrick Mahaney (another Daily Vet)

  • 12/27/2013 04:04pm


    Great - thank you for consider this article! Happy New Year to you!


  • conflicted
    11/13/2014 07:41am

    I trusted the cardiology specialist who treated our 9 year old chihuahua x mini foxy for CHF.

    In June 2013 our little dog was diagnosed with left mitral valve disease, a grade 2/5 heart murmur, tracheal collapse and enlarged heart. I took him to the best specialist I could find. He was the senior lecturer and specialist cardiologist for a prestigious teaching hospital. He told us not to panic and promised us 18 months with medication from the onset of congestive heart failure.

    Almost exactly a year later taking only half a Fortekor daily and exhibiting zero symptoms my dog suffered a suspected heart tear with pleural effusion. He had been completely normal, got up on the bed, started playing with one of his toys then made a really strange sound. I realised he was in respiratory distress and we rushed him to the ICU. We were told to expect the worst. Slowly he began to recover. He was put on Amplodipine, Doxycycline and Theophylline. He was back to his puppy self in two weeks, eyes bright and tail wagging.

    A month and a half later I took him back because his coughing increased. I was told it was a 'nuisance cough' from the dynamic airway disease and given codeine which had no effect. A week later he was in mild congestive heart failure. He was in the ICU for two days to clear the fluid on his lungs and prescribed Pimobendan. I was always very unhappy with this drug. It seemed to overload his heart. You could literally see his heart beating against the wall of his chest. He started to go off his food. I also suspected he had an arrhythmia because we often monitored his heart rate and suddenly there was a knocking. I reported all these side effects on 3 separate occasions and was told not to worry- his heart disease was well managed. I ended up insisting on a Holter monitor and indeed an arrhythmia was found but we were told it was mild and again not to worry.

    Twenty four hours later our dog was in major congestive heart failure. He had lots of fluid on his lungs and the ultrasound showed evidence of chordae tendineae rupture. He was on Lasix injections and intravenous oxygen for three nights and released to us. The Amlodipine was increased as was his Lasix. We built him back up over the week- carrying him until he could walk, feeding him baby food and chicken broth with a syringe and giving him all his medications which seemed to be making him feel terrible.

    He was bright eyed again and walking on his own when I took him for his checkup but apparently his X-rays told a different story. They wouldn't let me take him home and readmitted him to the ICU. I didn't visit him (he would get very distressed) but rang twice a day to check his progress. Every day the vet nurses would tell me had was stable, eating and doing ok. I was in contact with his cardiologist too the first few days until he suddenly became a bit aloof and evasive. He said to me that the CHF could have been brought on by the stress of me bringing him for constant checkups and that our dog was very hard to treat and possibly treatment resistant. He did not review the medications. He suggested that if our dog didn't improve soon we would have to start considering euthanising him.

    After four days in the ICU the cardiologist told us his improvement was only mild but that they wanted to remove him from intravenous oxygen and start him on oral Lasix. I questioned this not able to understand his thinking and how my dog would survive. I asked if this was end stage and was told no. The cardiologist said we could take him home the next day and it would be weeks to a month before we had to consider euthanising him before the disease became 'insidious'.

    The next day they gave him back to us apparently ‘stable’. But he was skin and bones, could hardly breathe and could hardly walk. I got such a shock when I saw him. He was obviously suffering and I knew the medication wasn’t working anymore. They kept giving us false hope telling us he was stable and eating which he clearly wasn’t. The vet who discharged him seemed very annoyed we were taking him home but when I asked if she was sure it was ok she said 'probably'. We took him home and he was clearly very, very unwell. We gave him his meds and let him sleep. We tried to disturb him as little as possible- only to medicate him and syringe some water. He vomited and started shaking about 1am. We were panic stricken and even rang other ICU's to see what we should do. However he settled down and went to sleep- his heart rate and respiratory rate normal so we let him be. At around 3am he had something to eat and a big drink. In the morning we gave him his meds.

    Three and a half hours later he went into severe respiratory distress. We rushed him back to the ICU where they put him in the oxygen tent. Firstly they accused us of aspirating our dog which we absolutely hadn't done. Then they insisted on doing a whole battery of tests like X-rays, bloods etc which at that stage were really unnecessary as they had done all that the previous morning. I feel so stupid for agreeing. They told us he was breathing ok and to go home. Three hours later they rang me to get permission to euthanise him immediately as he had ‘suddenly decompensated’. He was in cardiac arrest before the end of that two minute phone call and died a horrible, frightening and painful death. We had gotten to the ICU in seven minutes but it wasn't fast enough.

    My little dog was the most precious thing to me in the world and we didn’t even get to say goodbye. As he lay on a towel dead in front of us the vet could offer no real answers other than he had a heart attack or maybe a blood clot. I'll never forget his dead eyes or the grimace on his face. The vet told us there was nothing they could have done, after all, "he couldn't live in the ICU".

    We had to leave him with them overnight because he died at 5pm on a Sunday and we couldn’t get in touch with the crematorium. I picked him up the next day in a white plastic bag, cold and stiff from the ‘morgue’. I took him out of the bag at the crematorium and he still had the staples in his nose from where they had ventilated him. As I unwrapped him from the towel blood seeped from his nose and mouth. It was the worst experience of my life and something I will never recover from. I am very angry that a cardiology specialist and ICU vet couldn’t see that my little dog was so sick. I feel like they just continually gave us false hope and I was too stupid and too desperate to keep my little guy alive to realise.

    My little guy was my constant companion and I feel extremely traumatised by all of this. More than anything I feel so sorry for our little dog. I really feel like everyone let him down and he died in deplorable (and avoidable) circumstances.

    Do I still trust my vet?

    No. I will never put a dog's life solely in the hands of another person again. I will follow my gut. I will follow my instincts. I won't allow my concerns regarding medications to be dismissed. Most of all I will be more acutely aware of the monetary gain from continuous tests and overmedication. I will never allow a dog to suffer while being fed false hope.


    Because I don't get to walk away from my grief at the end of the day. I don't move on to the next dog after a couple of hours/ days of feeling bad. I carry the full weight of responsibility for my dog's wellbeing and now he is dead I will carry the grief, the blame, the anger, the what ifs, the pain and the heartache for the rest of my life.

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