The Vet and I

When you think you’ve found yourself a good Veterinarian, hang on for dear life and don’t let go. In the 4.5 years I’ve been doing this dog-owning thing, I’ve gotten to meet some great vets and some pretty lousy ones.

There is a difference between low cost veterinary care and sensible veterinary care. You’d think one equals the other but it does not. Being a dog owner in west Los Angeles is an expensive affair. The majority of the veterinarian clinics in my neighbor or surrounding neighborhoods will charge you upwards of $150 just for taking in your dog in. They’ll convince you that you need diagnostic laboratory tests, monthly medications of their choice is an absolute must and they’ll send you home and they’ll send you home with what you know is a less than trusted brand of dog food, because you know, it’s what is going to make your dog better. I’ve been there and I’ve certainly done that.

Four tuchus infections, two ear infections, one skin infection, and inexplicable bloody soft stool for two months, that’s what I’ve dealt with in the span of a year and a half.

The tushie and ear infections are all Ellie.  That girl is the home of bacteria! I admit the ear infections are my fault as I didn’t know how to properly care for her ears. However, it would it would have been extremely helpful if our then Vet had walked me through the process of properly caring for her delicate ears. Instead they handed me a bottle of antibiotic and sent me on my way. Sure enough I had another ear infection on my hands shortly after that. I simply didn’t know I could prevent ear infections by cleaning her ears with a cleaning solution after her weekly bath. The internet taught me that.

She gets these weird red bumps that start around off near her vaginal opening and once she begins to aggravate them with the incessant licking the crawls up all the way to her stomach. She turns them into big red blotches and the skin around it turns flaky and rough. It is well understood that it is an allergic reaction to something. What the possible allergen could be is beyond me. We’ve switched her off and on to the products that we use on her, the cleaning products, hell even the detergents and softeners I use to wash their blankets and bed. But for the past 6 months, every two months, she has an outbreak. The same veterinarian who didn’t have time to talk to me about ear infections saw her three times for these mysterious rashes and every time I saw him, it was the same diagnoses. It’s fleas. Despite the fact that I administer a monthly regimen of Revolution, and she’s never showed any signs of fleas OR flea dirt. I’ll tell you why I know; I bathe her weekly and I check her coat with a fine tooth comb every time.

So three times we went to the veterinarian to figure out these rashes on her bottom and I would shell out over $150 (definitely cheaper than any other vet in the area) so they could pump her full of antibiotics and steroids and then they’d give me a bottle of the same to continue giving to her for two weeks. This process would clear her tushie right up…until the next time. This ordeal sucked, so on the fourth infection I decided to do something different.

When I first adopted Argos, I was living in Long Beach, CA (a good 30 miles away from where we currently are) and on my way home with my then new precious-cute-as-a-button puppy I made a pit stop at the The Family Vet. The very first veterinarian I’ve met in my life, Dr. Tran, must have seen the inexperience written all over my face. On that very first visit, she taught me to how to clip Argos’s claws, express his anal glands, and the most important lesson of all, get this new puppy used to you touching his teeth, paws and bottom. When cuddling, she said, massage his gums. This would one day help me when teaching him to let me brush his teeth. Like any other vet, she made sure I made it back into the clinic for vaccinations and at such reasonable prices, I made sure I did. We only saw Dr. Tran for a year after I moved away to another city and I had to continue care for Argos with another veterinarian.

We met Dr. Johnson in Fullerton, CA  another fantastic Veterinarian, just a tad more expensive for a gal like myself. Regardless, it is his advice that I resorted to for Ellie’s fourth infection. Dr. Tran was not taking new patients. Dr. Johnson explained to me what he thought was happening with Ellie. He diagnosed her with a staph infection, explained to me a possible weakness in her immune system, put her on antibiotics and steroids for a couple of weeks but most importantly he did something I was hoping he would…he advised me on preventative measures. Before sending us home, he gave us a bottle of Chlorhexidine medicated shampoo to treat her skin on a weekly basis. It’s been six weeks and no episode yet. Things are looking good!


And now for Argos. A month after Ellie came home from the shelter, Argos began with soft stool. For two weeks, it was so soft I had to make sure he went on grass patches rather than sidewalks (you know, where they accidentally go sometimes if you don’t walk fast enough to a grass patch) because it was that soft. Then it got bloody and thats when we rushed over to the The Shelter Vet, you know the guys who kept blaming Ellie’s rashes on fleas. At this time of course, I did not understand that I was wasting my time and my money. Stool tests, and blood test proved he was one healthy dog and yet, blood was coming out of him.

He was kept on antibiotics for a couple of weeks and fed plain white rice and chicken. After his medication was done, the soft stool returned, this time no blood. He remained like this for a few weeks. I didn’t bother taking him to the clinic anymore, I made his sure his appetite and activity level remained the same and it soon ran its course.

Call me a crazy dog person, if you want to, I quite don’t care. When someone you love shows signs of being unwell, it freaks you out. In my stupidity I never stopped to think about the type of care my dogs were really getting at this Shelter Vet, which by the way is a private practice that has nothing to do with providing shelter services to the community, it’s simply a low cost clinic…which makes a lot of sense now. So yes, I am mad that I shelled out a few hundred dollars for ultimately nothing but what makes me livid is that the dogs continued with their health issues.

Golden Retriever puppy

I gave Dr. Tran in Long Beach a call. She was not taking new patients but after I explained that Argos had already been seen there about three years back, she decided to invite me back. On his first visit back Argos was diagnosed with a skin infection. His dry skin was making him itch so much, he would go at it with his mouth, causing his infection. Some antibiotics and fish oil capsules later and his skin looks healthy again.

I plan to continue both their care with Dr. Tran as I trust her the most even if it means driving 30 miles to get to her office. We will continue to observe and I will be certain to report as to the progress of these two mutts.