Tailored Veterinary Solutions: Thinking Outside The Box

Standard treatments and approaches address most conditions your dog might face. But one size doesn’t always fit all.

There are times when your dog will benefit from a tailored solution. You should be able to discuss alternative options with your veterinarian.

Grab your best tool for communicating with your veterinarian here.

Tailored Veterinary Solutions: Thinking Outside The Box

Looks like the boils, altered mental status, and heart failure were caused by renal cell carcinoma. I need your signature to start treating it with malaria.
—Gregory House, MD

Treatment options

Getting the correct diagnosis is crucial, but the work doesn’t end there.

Once you know what’s wrong with your dog, you still need to decide on the treatment. Yes, you might have been presented with one treatment option only. That, however, doesn’t mean there is only one option.

Jasmine’s cruciate ligament injury

When Jasmine was diagnosed with torn ACL, the only option presented to us was TPLO surgery! Is TPLO the only option for this condition? Far from it. Your dog’s busted knee can be treated with

  • conservative management with or without a brace
  • regenerative therapies
  • alternate therapies
  • surgery, but there is more than one surgical option out there

There are enough options to make your head spin. Why are you offered only one?

That’s not to say that the one choice you were given isn’t the best one for your dog. But how would you know for sure without considering them all?

Remember, getting a second opinion doesn’t apply only to diagnostics but to treatment options also!

While a run-of-the-mill treatment solution can often work, it is not always the case. The problem with cookie-cutter solutions is that each dog is an individual.

The best treatment is such that considers your dog’s individual needs.

JD’s ringworm infection

The first time our vet was faced with the need for a unique solution to a common problem was when we brought in JD with a ringworm infection.

He was going to write up a standard prescription. 

While doing that, he mentioned that JD would have to wear the Elizabethan collar until the treatment was over.

Wait a minute. This was just shortly after Jasmine’s first knee surgery, and she was pretty vulnerable to setbacks! And I remembered what a disaster it was when JD had to wear the collar after he got neutered. He was a clumsy danger to himself and everybody around him.

Mixing that with Jasmine’s post-op didn’t seem like a good idea.

I still remember how momentary irritation swept over the vet’s face.

He was trying to hide it, and I didn’t hold it against him. What was important was what he did. We could clearly see him thinking.

Solution found

He then came up with an alternate solution that did not require the e-collar!

Yes, it was a pain in the backside, and the treatment took longer. But it worked, and Jasmine’s knee was safe!

He [our vet] since got used to the fact that every solution has to be custom with Jasmine. So after examining her, he would sit down deep in thought: “I know what I would normally do—now I have to figure out what I’m going to do, considering it’s Jasmine.”

Jasmine’s vet is brilliant, and sometimes, I think he enjoys the challenge.

Thinking out of the box

He had custom-designed his first lift exam tables. He had now designed custom sound-proof kennels for the sick ward in his new place. And he always makes the treatment work for his patients.

When one of Jasmine’s incisions wasn’t healing well, he came up with the idea of using Preparation H.

That’s right, the hemorrhoid ointment! Did it ever work! It seems it works better for this than for its original purpose!

This year has been quite wet, and Jasmine’s feet seemed to want to keep breaking out with infections.

What are we using? Epi-Otic!

Yup, the ear cleaner! And it worked beautifully! Since we started using it, even the cracks Jasmine had on the pads disappeared.

Jasmine’s care was custom-tailored to her, starting from her home-cooked diet and hand-picked supplements to treating any problem that she faced.

Traditional veterinary medicine

The biggest leap of faith for her vet was when we wanted to include the Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) in our arsenal.

He squirmed a bit at first.

But because the patient’s interest is his main priority, and conventional treatments failed to address the problem, he agreed to try it.

The TCVM vet was quite surprised to find out that her regular vet was cool with that. “He knows you’re here?” he asked, surprised when we came for the first consultation.

Yes, of course, he did. We wouldn’t want to do anything without his blessing.

We love and respect him too much to go behind his back. And the fact that we didn’t have to [go behind his back] only proved that our respect for him is well deserved.

Pick a tool that will work best

Over time, all kinds of things got mixed into the pot that is Jasmine’s medical care. Latest science, unorthodox ideas, and alternative treatments. 

We drive our dogs around in custom cars and dress them up with custom accessories … and yet we are quick to settle for cookie-cutter medical solutions.

Does your dog have arthritis? Here are some NSAIDs.

While NSAIDs can be a satisfactory solution for many dogs, other options can work just as well and are safer.

Whatever treatment option you go with, make sure that it is the best solution for you and your dog. There are options!

Related articles:
What Makes a Good Veterinarian?
Does Your Vet Listen to You? Cookie’s Post-Sedation Complications

Further reading:
Personalized medicine improves outcomes

Categories: Dog health advocacyWorking with Veterinarians

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

  1. Great reminder that there are always different options for treatment! It sounds like Jasmine gets nothing but the best of the best. Sometimes a little creativity on the veterinarian’s part really works out for the best. You are very lucky to have a veterinarian that is willing to jump through hoops for his patients. Not all veterinarians are willing to accomidate creative solutions.

  2. This needs to be required reading for every pet owner (not only dogs).

    We tend to think the vet knows best because they studied hard to get where they are now. BUT we also need to push for alternatives and better ways to treat a specific pet. As you say the cookie cutter method doesn’t always work and we, as parents, need to work with our veterinarians to find the BEST way for each animal. This is our responsibility as pet owners – the right kind of care.

    The hardest part is getting over the respect we have for our vets and respectfully asking about alternatives.

  3. FiveSibesMom

    Jana, you always give such good info. I so agree about thinking outside the box. When my dogs – 4 out of 5 of my huskies – had varying tears in their CCLs , one had blown out both at same time and required emergency both legs to be done in an emergency situation, my young boy had one done each year, and when my Epi-dog had a partial tear, I did Conservative Care (leg brace, lift harness, cold laser, and supplements) as I didn’t want to put him under. Years later my senior gal had a minor tear, and I did Conservative Care as well. With my Epi-dog, I along with my amazing vets did traditional treatments and we very open to my suggestions of alternative treatments. Honestly, if they hadn’t been, I probably would have sought another opinion. And as a result of our combined efforts, he lived the last 7 years seizure free! The key is definitely having good vet(s) who are open to various treatments and offering up all that is available.

  4. Our vet clinic is pretty traditional, but one of the vets also uses TCVM techniques. When Theo hurt his back, he responded well to laser therapy, but it was nice to know that alternative methods were available.

  5. I love that your veterinarian has learned to think outside the box when it comes to treating your dog Jasmine. I hope it has taught him to do the same for his other patients too. It’s a blessing to find a vet willing to try alternative medicine outside of the way they have been trained over the years. I also, love what you said about getting a second opinion. So true!

  6. I think that is why I love my vet, she listens to me, my crazy ideas sometimes but works with me for Layla’s sake and it is working well. She has never said no to something unless she really thought it was ridiculous but even then would think of a healthy solution. Thanks to her Layla is in some ways a healthy 15 year old

  7. I just love it when vets can think outside the box. My mobile vet thought outside the box. And Henry’s current vet thinks outside the box as well. I think you’re absolutely right that a vet has to customize treatment for each patient. It can be difficult to find a vet that is in alignment with your thoughts, but when you do it’s well worth it. Sounds like you’ve got a great medical team working on your pups. I’m really glad to hear it. This is great information. I’m passing it along to my dog and pet friends.

  8. I’ve felt so lucky that our regular vet clinic has not 1, but 3 amazing vets who work there full time, all with different specialties. They also work with vets from nearby clinics, who come in a few times a month, or as needed, to work on special cases. They all work together when presented with a unique case. I’ve never been presented with just 1 option when it comes to treating my pets. They are very good about explaining all options, the pros and cons of each, and helping me to decide what treatment would be the best for my individual dogs. I think it helps that they know I’m a biologist who knows a thing or two, and that I tend to over research everything. If they left something out that might be a good alternative for my pets I’d totally question them about it!

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