Providing accurate diagnosis and assessment of your dog requires a three- pronged approach:
- a physical exam,
- any diagnostic tests ordered and
- your (the pet parent’s) input, observations and questions, which should never be discounted.
I cover this in detail in my book, The Best of Both Worlds, which became an Amazon best seller in its first 12 hours of being available! (This isn’t just “bragging rights!” It shows an increasing interest in holistic veterinary care, which is very exciting!!)
P.S. If you prefer to watch a video rather than read, scroll down for more from me via a quick video chat!
Let’s talk first about the physical exam. Many pet owners come to me complaining about paying “exam fees” to their veterinarian for each visit. But after our initial visit — whether by phone or in person — these pet parents are not only more accepting of a physical examination at each visit, they’re demanding it. Turns out, it wasn’t the cost that turned these pet parents off, it was the fact that they were being charged for a physical examination and no such exam was taking place.
In a truly comprehensive physical exam of your pet, your veterinarian can assess not only for clinical symptoms by palpating (touching and feeling) the body and abdomen, listening to the heart and bowels, etc. but also watching for how your dog responds to stimuli, how they walk, sit and move their neck. He or she can also smell your pet — looking for any unusual odors that may be coming from his eyes, ears, nose, and mouth — which could point to an illness or infection.
During all of this, a thorough veterinarian should also be asking you a ton of questions. This is done for two reasons. First, you are the expert on your dog. You know his habits, when he’s doing something that is just a little bit off, how often you’re seeing certain symptoms, and more. But also, my training in Traditional Chinese Medicine allows me to go deeper… to uncover not just the symptoms themselves, but the source of the symptoms, and I need the pet parents input to do this. I ask the standard questions about how your dog is acting, eating and sleeping, but then, I ask additional, seemingly unrelated questions.
- Does your dog like to relax on a cool surface, or someplace warm?
- Does he prefer sleeping on something soft and fluffy, or more firm?
- What are her favorite foods?
- Are there any behavioral changes you’re seeing?
- When did this behavior begin… and how often are you seeing it?
As you can see — along with the physical exam and diagnostic testing — you are key to helping me provide a thorough assessment of your dog.
Let me share with you a farming example, because I think it may be the best way to capture the TCVM (Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine) approach to your pet’s health. If a farmer is noticing his crops aren’t thriving, he can’t simply treat the soil. He must look at the entire farm’s systems.
He must consider whether or not the farm next door is over-spraying weed killer onto his crops. He must look for symptoms of animal / pest destruction… and then –based on additional symptoms — determine which animal is the likely culprit, so he can respond accordingly.
He must consider environmental factors such as rain, heat, sunshine, and wind.
He must consider soil quality, as well as timing of each planting.
In short, he looks at everything in order to most effectively farm his land.
If you are struggling with how often and WHY a “healthy” dog should see his or her vet regularly, chapter six of my book will help and will share some stories with you that will help you commit fully to your veterinarian appointment.