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Unsatisfied with Vet's treatment/diagnosis


suemumof3
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I have a 13 year old crossbread who I love dearly. on the outer ankle area of his left front leg he has what looks to me like an injury which has become infected.

 

We took him to the vets yesterday, not had to bother taking him to the vets much as he is a really healthy dog so dont really have a relationship with a vet as such and I am quite upset and concerned by her diagnosis.

 

Upon looking at the wound, which to be fair is quite grotesque, she immediately said that it is a huge mass and a tumour and needs to be surgically removed and that is what the foul smell coming from him was. This last point made my husband cross as the fould smell was his breath due to him licking this infection/abscess and annoyed him that she couldnt tell the difference.

 

She cleaned the wound, gave him a lampshade to stop him licking it as this is making it worse, and some antibiotics and pain relief. She also quoted surgery at £650-£700. I told her that due to his age and cost I was unsure if this is something we would want to do and she just told me that we had to hope that it would heal then. Also that it could take weeks or months to fully heal. I feel in limbo as we have no idea what not operating would mean, it seems to us that she has implied we put him to sleep, but he is not in pain and apart from this is very health.

 

We are following the treatment, cleaning 2 x daily and his meds, but after already paying £77 to her am a bit wary about taking him back on Monday as tbh I dont have much faith in her. Does anyone know if a person not on benefits could get help with a vets bill or would I be screwed???

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Hi Sue,

 

How miserable for you.

 

I suppose it depends if it is a cancerous tumour or a benign one. I'm surprised she didn't do a needle biopsy because you need correct information on the tumour before you can make a decision.

 

I would see how it looks on Monday and if you don't have much faith in her you could always try and find another vet.

 

I don't know of any charities which will help if you are not on benefits. You could ask the vet (any vet) if they'd take payments by monthly instalments.

 

I hope it is benign and your dog recovers. As he's healthy I'd probably wait and see how the wound heals and seek a second opinion.

 

DD

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  • 3 weeks later...

From what you're saying, it sounds like the vet didn't do a biopsy on the wound at all - is this right??

 

Skin tumors are usually first analyzed by a fine-needle aspirate, an impression smear or a scrape or a swab sample. A fine-needle aspirate involves gently inserting a needle into the lump, pulling back on the stopper of the attached syringe and then squirting any extracted fluid and cells onto a glass slide for examination under a microscope. This is a quick and easy way to diagnose many skin tumors, especially benign fatty tumors called lipomas. Another useful diagnostic tool is an impression smear. This simple procedure involves pressing a glass slide onto the surface of the mass and then examining the transferred cells under the microscope. A scrape or swab sample is another way to transfer tumor cells onto a glass slide. A skilled veterinarian can identify many types of tumors from microscopic assessment of cells by these various methods, reaching at least a tentative, or sometimes even a definitive, diagnosis

 

A good vet would ALWAYS make sure at least one of these checks (see above) were carried out prior to diagnosis - even if it was just to find out if the 'tumor' has spread to other parts of the body, or if it was too far gone for a simple removal procedure.

 

If I was you, I'd ask for a second opinion!

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She was a private vet. We didn't go for a 2nd opinion but went with gut instinct which seems to have proved us right. The wound is pretty much healed, no seeping, no ghastly stench and no sign of it bothering my lovely dog.

 

I will never take him back to her but am happy that he is on the mend :whoo:

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I'm so glad he's getting better - and that you didn't just do what this vet had suggested. It sounds to me like she was after getting some money out of you for treatment that wasn't needed!!

 

Keep an eye on it tho' ... if a new lump appears, I would suggest you went to another vet to get a biopsy done (just in case).

 

Any heat/smell/seepage from a wound/lump tends to point to an infection and needs looking at by a reputable veterinarian.

 

Asking other dog owners when you are out on walks which vets they use is a good indicator of who is good and who is best avoided :-)

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I still can't believe the vet didn't do a biopsy

 

Why? The owner has made it clear that they were not prepared to consider surgery on the grounds of cost and the age of the dog so what's the point of an expensive diagnostic procedure?

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Okay, let me re-phrase that: The vet didn't apparently "offer" a biopsy, but quoted a price for surgery. Most vets would take a biopsy before suggesting surgery.

 

The point of a biopsy would be to properly assess the situation and if the tumour wasn't cancerous it would be reassuring for the owner.

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The procedure for the biopsy would be invasive and costly in itself and the owner had made it clear that no matter what the result they were not going to consider treatment for a tumour. I can quite envisage a situation where the vet puts forward the idea of a tumour being a possibility and would then discuss in more detail the diagnostic procedure if the client was interested. This client wasn't. If the vet had done a biopsy, charged the client for it and then told them the cost of treatment the OP would be furious. They'd be equally furious if they'd had to pay out for a biopsy and the results were negative.

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A biopsy of the wound would also enable the vet to ascertain if the tumour (if it actually WAS a tumour to begin with) has spread - meaning that removal of the lump would not be beneficial to the dog anyway, or if it was 'joined' to anything (or free of any attachment, and therefore easily removed). Canine cancer is more likely to spread to other parts of the body (such as the bones) and a biopsy would mean that the vet had a full understanding of the situation PRIOR to suggesting a major operation.

 

I agree with suemumof3's decision to not put the dog through any unnecessary medical procedures before a full knowledge of the wound was ascertained. Given the age of the dog, any operation to remove a tumour would be traumatic for him - and as the vet had not done a biopsy before saying that surgery was needed, a proper diagnosis could not have been made at this time.

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and a biopsy would mean that the vet had a full understanding of the

situation PRIOR to suggesting a major operation.

The client didn't want to explore the possibility. The vet might have had 'a full understanding', the client would probably have had a large bill they couldn't pay. It's a really nasty and sneaky trick of vets to carry out diagnostic procedures without giving the client a clear picture of the reasons for them and the total costs involved.

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If the owner had said she refused a biopsy, then I would feel differently.

 

If the vet had performed a biopsy before diagnosing the tumour, then it would be the owner's decision whether or not to proceed with any surgery.

 

If, once diagnosed, the tumour was not affecting the life of her dog in any way (eg: difficulty walking/getting around), and there was no chance of it spreading to other parts of it's body, then surgery would not have been a priority (bearing in mind the dog in question was 13, and surgery would affect it's quality of life).

 

 

A lot of "IF's", I know :| , but the owner has known her dog for a long time, and the vet for only one consultation. The cost may, or may not, have been THE deciding factor (although I understand from her first post it was ONE factor) - maybe she had her dog's best interests at heart?? Maybe she didn't want her dog to suffer the results of surgery at his age??

 

A second opinion would have made a lot of sense at the time, but the decision still stood with the owner.

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If the vet had performed a biopsy before diagnosing the tumour, then it would

be the owner's decision whether or not to proceed with any surgery.

The biopsy alone would cost a three figure sum and the vet had already ascertained (however clumsily) that it was pointless because surgery was not affordable. If a client can't afford the treatment what's the point of the expensive diagnostics?

 

The OPs own post makes it clear they are shocked at the cost of veterinary treatment.

but after already paying £77 to her am a bit wary about taking him back on

Monday as tbh I dont have much faith in her. Does anyone know if a person not

on benefits could get help with a vets bill or would I be screwed???

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