Getting the very best treatment for your dog
Many veterinarians are not familiar with the special needs of agility dogs. For most of your requirements, as long as you communicate clearly, your local vet should be perfectly capable of dealing with the needs of your dog or dogs. It is, therefore, very important to point out to your vet that you do agility and that your dog is a canine athlete and needs special handling. Clinical vet nurse Frances Gaudiano gives you some pointers on what to say when you get to the surgery.
Starting with your yearly vaccination check up, be sure to request a double appointment when you book in but do expect to pay more for it. If you want all body systems fully investigated, the extra time with your vet is necessary. It is much better to nip something in the bud than wait until it is destroying your dogís performance and quality of life.
Make clear to your vet that any irregularity should be explained to you in full. Tell your vet that your dog goes to shows nearly every weekend of the summer. You need effective, fast-acting, adulticide flea treatment and frequent worming. You may also choose to request a kennel cough vaccine. Make it clear that it is your goal to keep your dog in peak performance condition.
Do ask for information on alternative treatment. Many owners use hydrotherapy to increase joint mobility without causing stress to the joint. Ask for a referral to a hydrotherapy centre if you think it will assist your dog. Most of these treatments are covered by insurance.
Alternatively, physiotherapy, acupuncture or chiropractics may be helpful. If your practice does not have active treatment modalities, ask to be referred to a specialist that can give you a set of exercises and treatments to speed and enhance recovery. Sometimes simple things like hot packs or cold packs can make a tremendous amount of difference in healing time.
Simple massage techniques can be learned by owners and practised daily on the injured pet. You just need to be pointed in the right direction - animal physiotherapists do exist, you just have to ask for them.
If your dog has been diagnosed with a systemic disease and is on medication, do ask the vet to keep your dogís working needs in mind while creating a dose rate for your dog. For example, if your dog is epileptic, you may not want it on the highest dose possible of tranquillisers. While you need to control the symptoms, the dose should be individually tailored to your active dog.
If you are having a major behaviour problem with your dog, a good vet will do a thorough physical work-up to detect any physical problems that may be causing the behaviour changes. Pain, liver or brain abnormalities can all cause significant changes in behaviour. If on finding that your dog is physically healthy, you are still struggling with a behaviour problem, there are chemical aides to deal with many problems. However, you should consult with a behaviourist if you choose to use drug therapy. Drug therapy should be done in conjunction with a behaviour modification programme. This goes for something as simple as sound phobias! A veterinarian specializing in behaviour medicine can prescribe both the drugs and behaviour modification programme. Again, ask for a referral. Behaviour consultations with a vet are covered by insurance.
Just tell them what you need
However, for most of your needs, as long as you communicate clearly with your vet, you should be perfectly well satisfied with your local vet. Just tell them what you need. Remember, veterinary medicine is a business and your practice wants you to be a satisfied customer. And if you are not happy, you are allowed to ask for a second opinion. Your vet is obliged by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons professional conduct code to forward all your case notes to a second vet for a further opinion. Remember, you are paying for veterinary care and you should be satisfied with the service. I do think that 99% of practices are probably thrilled to have agility dogs as their patients and will work with you to establish excellent care plans. Vet practices like owners who are concerned, compliant and do their best to keep their dogs fit and healthy.
Frances competes with a Border Terrier who does not have skin problems but could do with a personality transplant. (But she loves him anyway!)