As a board-certified veterinary emergency specialist, I'm often amazed at what owners will put up with as they care for their animals. Take a recent client of mine. She'd brought her sick cat to her regular veterinarian, who said Felix needed intravenous fluids. The vet didn't have 24-hour care, though. So Felix's owner picked her cat up at closing time and drove him to an after-hours emergency clinic where he could stay overnight. In the morning, she got to the clinic before it closed at 8 AM so she could bring Felix back to her vet. She did this for four days in a row before she and Felix ended up in the emergency room of the university vet school where I work. When I saw her, she was physically, mentally, and financially exhausted. And Felix was really sick—he was in severe kidney failure and needed much more aggressive care than either his regular vet or the after-hours clinic could provide. He survived, but it was touch-and-go.
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I promise I don't have my eye on my wallet when I say this—there are times when your pet needs someone other than the wonderful vet you've been using for years. I know it can feel uncomfortable to ask for a referral to a specialist. But from my vantage point as an ER vet—I work and teach at a tertiary care center, where the very sickest animals end up—that reluctance can cause major problems. Here is my short list of the top errors and omissions in pet care.
Related: 9 Common Pet Myths—Debunked