Recognizing good and bad advice will help keep your dog healthy
It's amazing when you find a solution to a problem that fulfills a life purpose and helps those you care about the most.
That is the reason I love writing holistic health articles that benefit dogs. I have also enjoyed working with individual clients, but the potential to help dogs is so much greater by writing these articles. They reach a significant number of readers and therefore help many dogs.
When I worked in my veterinary clinic, there was no time to write. I often felt frustrated because there was a stream of new dogs coming to me with the same problems. No matter how hard I worked, time limitations prevented me from seeing every dog that needed help.
As a veterinarian I often write about the important topics of diseases and health problems, however, there is another topic that is even more crucial for keeping your dog healthy. It is how to recognize good advice from bad advice.
Every year, my Natural Healing team and I receive thousands of emails from people around the world asking for help. Often people are confused by contradictory information from their veterinarians and what they read online. It can make people feel paralyzed and fear they will make the wrong decision.
My plan today is to share a seven-step process on how to make healthy, reliable and safe decisions for your canine friend with good health and longevity in mind.
Seven steps to making the right medical choices for your dog
With the rise of the internet, the amount of information out there can be overwhelming. It is easy to find a hundred articles on ear infections in dogs and a hundred different opinions about how to treat them. The time when a textbook contained all the information about dog ear care is gone. It would also be foolish to expect your veterinarian will have memorized all the current information. Their role is to help you sort through the information and help you make the right choices.
The biggest challenge is that some sources may suggest treatments that may be ineffective or even harmful. For example, the most common recommendation for treating ears is to flush them regularly and use steroid drops containing antibiotics.
While these treatments may give your dog temporary relief, it is seldom mentioned that repeated, excessive ear cleaning puts your dog’s ear at risk for resistant infections, chronic inflammation and pain. Some of the writers do not know this and others do not want you to know.
Ear infections can be treated with the use of natural food, liver detox, optimizing the function of the digestive tract and addressing neck injuries from collars, which are closely related to ear problems. However, that advice is far less common and harder to find.
This example shows that often the wrong advice is the easiest to find and that is why I prepared the following seven step list on making the right medical decision for your dog:
1. Learn to recognize good advice
If you run into a website that appears to contain pre-canned advice, citations from manuals and textbooks, be cautious.
I usually trust advice from a person with years of experience in the field or when the answers are infused with solid knowledge, in addition to passion and enthusiasm.
I also suggest that you look for advice from people who focus on dogs and their people as opposed to their accolades and achievements. Such bravado may often be a mask for insecurity and lack of knowledge. In other words, people who just love sharing their work and rarely point to themselves.
2. Go for long-term value
A 90-minute, $300 holistic consultation may seem expensive at first, but the long-term benefits of such a consultation can make a night and day difference in the life of your dog. This investment can also bring you substantial savings on veterinary care.
3. Make your dog a priority
People often make less than ideal choices because of their circumstances. I have heard people say they cannot afford their dog’s treatment because they just did a forty thousand dollar kitchen renovation or because they are building a million dollar dream home and are strapped for cash.
Most of us have been in situations where money is tight. However, it is better to go with the decision that feels right or even borrow money for your dog’s treatment instead of making a choice that will result in more hardship and expense down the road.
4. Avoid wheeler-dealers
Patients are a priority over money for most veterinarians and other practitioners. However, this does not mean that the bad apples of medicine, or so-called wheeler-dealers, do not exist. There are two things you can do. First, go with your intuition and trust it.
Second, ask your vet what she or he would do for their own dog in this case. If your vet’s recommendation does not feel right, get a second opinion, especially when it comes to invasive or expensive treatments.
I love when my clients seek a second opinion because they have to live with their decision and I want them to be as certain as possible. I too am asked for second opinions and in such cases I do not hesitate to disagree with either my colleagues or clients if the suggested treatment does not appear to be in the best interest of their dog.
5. Avoid chaos
Even in medicine, there can be too many cooks in the kitchen. Many people have a whole smorgasbord of practitioners available to them and the more people they see, the more confused they seem to get.
I suggest that you have one practitioner that is the main care provider and is also willing to work with people practicing complementary therapies and can help you coordinate the efforts and make decisions.
Our society is all about the quick fix and fast solution. The problem is that nature and the body do not work the same way. There is no instant spring or winter on demand and tomatoes or apples can’t be grown by a click of a mouse.
Everything in nature requires time and patience and healing is no exception. Patience is one of the greatest assets in healing.
However, there is something to be said for not waiting too long. If a practitioner tries to convince you that it is normal for your dog to go through a six-month long cleansing regime, you may want to look for a second opinion. Realistically, in that time you should start seeing, at least, gradual improvement. If you do not see it, you may need to look for a different solution.
Intuition is the last, but not the least, characteristic you need to keep your dog healthy.
You can gradually learn to recognize how the right decisions feel. To hone your intuition, I suggest you write your options on a piece of paper. Which one are you drawn to when you write them down? Look at each option and see how they feel or ask yourself what color would you assign to each option - red, yellow or green?
A good choice should feel breezy, easy and green. The less optimal choice feels orange or red, muggy and heavy.
I have made medical decisions in my life and some of them have been serious and even life and death. One thing I know for sure is that even if the outcome of our decisions isn't always positive, at least, we can be reassured that we are guided by love for our dogs and we do the best we can!
For more in-depth information on holistic treatment of ear infections in dogs take a look at my three-part series on the subject:
© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM