A wonderful client of mine brought her 12-year-old Boxer to see me.
Last night, Winston had his first seizure. Because it was after hours, the owners found themselves at a local 24-hour veterinary facility. They came in today to discuss what had happened last night. They wanted me to examine their dog and get my opinion about the next step to take.
Seizures and age
I typically subdivide my seizure dogs into one of three categories based on age.
A three-month-old puppy, for example, that starts having seizures typically has a congenital malformation such as (liver shunt, hydrocephalus, etc.
A middle-aged dog, let’s say 3 to 5 years old, who begins having seizures is typically your epileptic patient.
Epileptic dogs get seizures with no identifiable cause other than genetics. We all have a seizure threshold, an accumulation of neuronal stimulation where the brain will have seizure activity.
Epileptics have a lower threshold and thus seize more readily.
Unfortunately, the third category, the one poor Winston fell into, is the older patient that begins to seize.
This, unfortunately, is usually due to an intracranial lesion ( a lesion like a tumor in and invading or surrounding and compressing the brain).
As an added clue, Boxers are notorious for developing cancer ANYWHERE. Of course, the outlying infectious disease can infect an animal of any age and cause seizures. However, let’s dismiss them for the moment as they are certainly rare.
I am giving you this background is to provide a perspective on the “treatments” Winston received at the emergency hospital.
They ran some baseline tests (appropriate) and some other tests (that were aggressive). They did that without discussing options with the owner. The words MRI, neurology consult, cancer, or guarded or poor prognosis was never mentioned).
Then they proceeded to dispense Amoxicillin to treat possible pancreatitis. Yet, the dog demonstrated no signs of pancreatitis, and Amoxicillin would not be the treatment if he had). They gave the dog multiple pain medications (notice I didn’t say anti-seizure medications or sedatives but pain meds).
It gets worse
Then the kicker. They VACCINATED the dog!
To the unfortunate and unknowing pet owner, the illusion of care and compassion was provided; to the knowing and discriminating veterinarian, this is criminal.
Treatments (some unnecessary and some downright dangerous) and tests were performed to pad the client’s bill. The client received no education and no options.
They simply were gouged then “shipped”.
I never intended to be a whistle-blower or to bad-mouth veterinarians. Today, in this post, I will skip the obligatory qualification that most vets are good, honest, and educated people. Today, I am angry. Really.
Dishonesty and price gouging are not unique to veterinarians by any means.
If someone goes to any professional to seek advice on something with which they are not educated or familiar, they run the risk of encountering a dishonest person. I am not well-versed at all with construction or auto mechanics and have definitely been taken for a ride or two over the years.
Am I angry with humanity? Why do we do this to each other? Is money that important? Is it too difficult to take pride in an honest day’s work and to receive an honest day’s pay? Do the pressures of making money and surviving the stress and pace of life cause some of us to forget ethics and decency?
Am I angry with veterinarians in particular? Should we be held up to a higher standard? Did we not take an oath that includes the words “Primum non nocere” or “First do no harm?” Do we have an unwritten code amongst veterinarians not to blow the whistle on another veterinarian when they are acting unethically? Or is it our responsibility to the client who may not understand what is being done to them to do just that?
Once again, as I often state, I don’t have all of the answers.
I just wish I had a better story of humanity to share.
Seizures in Dogs