Pet Corner: Don’t procrastinate on pet’s care

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Afew days ago, I was on my way to work when I stopped at a local gas station as a part of my normal routine.

I don’t stop there every day, but certainly enough to establish a friendly relationship with the cashiers at the store. Typically, the conversation at the checkout counter revolves around the weather, politics, sports and, obviously, dogs and cats.

On any given morning, I will ask the cashier about how their pets are doing. Generally, I deal out some basic and abbreviated pet advice or make a recommendation they should have their pet examined.

It is not unusual for the cashier to explain several legitimate reasons she will need to wait a while before bringing “FiFi” in for examination.

I truly understand and sympathize with most of the reasons pet owners procrastinate or put off taking their pets to their veterinarian. However, on this particular morning, I was not prepared mentally for the explanation I was about to hear and ponder for the rest of the day.

The young girl behind the counter said she needed to bring her dog to see me since he had an obvious ear infection.

Keeping the conversation rolling in the right direction to best benefit her dog, I began to welcome her to bring him in at any time. I tried to be very positive with an upbeat statement something like “Bring him on in! We’ll take very good care of him and have him feeling better in no time.”

That’s when I was taken by surprised by he response.

She said, “I haven’t brought him in because his ear has gotten really bad since I waited so long. I was afraid someone might think I am a bad dog owner.”

I quickly reassured the young girl, who obviously loves her dog very much, she should never feel bad about needing professional veterinary care. After all, it wasn’t her fault her dog had an ear infection.

I have listened and understood many reasons for delaying the inevitable. It is quite reasonable to hesitate taking your pet to a veterinarian because of financial difficulty, you’re too busy or because you think the problem will simply go away.

We all know the classic situation when we have some medical problem that just seems to be a very minor ailment. We wait to see if the problem will heal on its own. We will even try some type of over-the-counter medicine before running straight to the doctor.

If one of our children gets sick and we decide to wait it out, their condition only worsens at night or on the weekends. That’s Murphy’s Law for you.

The same general thinking holds true for pets. Pet owners often hope and pray their pet’s condition will simply improve over time. We never think about or remember the countless times our children actually got better without a trip to the doctor or emergency room.

As a veterinarian, I never hear about the countless times pet owner’s dogs and cats recovered from an illness or injury without receiving veterinary medical care. I’ve never had a pet owner call me and say, “Doc, my dog wasn’t feeling very well last week, but now he is just fine.”

Generally, pet owners don’t seek medical treatment for their pets if they aren’t still having some kind of issue. Sometimes, however, waiting only causes your pet’s condition to deteriorate or worsen.

In some cases, waiting may cause your pet’s condition to become more difficult to treat or become life-threatening.

It can be a tough call. None of us have a crystal ball to see the future and potential outcome of our sick children or furry family members. But, wouldn’t you rather err on the side of caution? I sure would.

Make no mistake about it. That is the reason your veterinarian is in business. That’s why I am there.

As a veterinarian, my job is to take care of pets, and I love my job.

If it wasn’t for people like you who love their pets like family members, veterinarians couldn’t make a living performing a service that is extremely rewarding emotionally.

If your pet has a medical issue, even if you think it may not be serious, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible to ensure your pet lives a long, healthy and happy life.

Dr. Jeff Castle is a veterinarian at Clark County Veterinary Clinic.