I love pet blogging for a lot of reasons, including that it’s a great democratizer. I would never have felt comfortable asking my own vet to write about the benefits of pumpkin for dogs but when Dr. Laci Schaible commented on one of my blog posts, I checked out her site, discovered it was new and interesting — and immediately felt comfortable pumping her for information about pumpkins. She came through, in spades, as you can see here.
Dr. Schaible in turn asked me to write a guest post — fair is fair! — from the perspective of a veterinary client. So here we are.
When it comes to economizing in these tough times, I find some things easier to give up than others. I work at home so I don’t really need new clothes (no videoconferencing for me!). That funny noise my car is making? I can ignore it a while longer. And — dare I admit it? –I’m okay with skipping the occasional annual medical checkup, which always seems to sock me with hidden fees for diagnostic tests. I’m feeling fine and if that should change …well, that’s why I’m paying those exorbitant health insurance rates.
But my dog, Frankie, can’t tell me how he’s feeling, so I need a vet to tell me how he might be feeling. And because I don’t have health insurance for him — by the time I discovered it was an option, Frankie was too old and had been diagnosed with diabetes — everything is out of pocket.
My latest vet visit had its own hidden — or I should say surprise — fees, $179 for geriatric blood workup. Yikes. On the one hand, I was pleased to learn from the results that Frankie’s health is excellent. But on the other hand, it green lighted him for another procedure I’d been putting off: The dreaded teeth cleaning.
You don’t have to tell me how important a professional cleaning is, especially for a dog with diabetes. I know all about periodontal disease and dangerous bacteria coursing through my little pup’s blood system. But it’s expensive: $500 at my vet and at least double that at a board certified veterinary dentist. I mention veterinary dentists because there are two in Tucson, where I live — which is unusual, given that there are only about 50 in the U.S. — and ever since I learned about the specialty while researching an article about canine dental care for Your Dog, the newsletter of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts, I’ve been coveting the limousine variety for Frankie.
But in the meantime I can barely afford the procedure at my own vet.
When I discussed the financial hardships with him — I hate that conversation; although there’s less shame in being poor as a writer than there is in other professions, it’s not exactly a badge of honor — we agreed on an extended payment plan that wouldn’t involve any credit card companies. So it’ll get done.
One interesting side note: When I mentioned that I wished I could get the cleaning done by a local dental specialist, my vet bristled. “We do those procedures all the time,” he said, with the implication that it’s not rocket science. He is extremely mild mannered and I had never seen any signs of professional ego before, but I’d clearly hit a nerve here.
I’m aware from reading the terrifically honest Pawcurious blog that vets are sensitive about patients who imply they are not “real” doctors (I would never be guilty of that even though — who me, bitter? — my liberal arts Ph.D. is scorned by most scientist types). So now inquiring minds want to know: Are there other sore spots — say, regarding veterinary specialists — that we clients don’t know about?
Bio: Edie Jarolim is a freelance — read: available for work — writer and editor. Before she got her first dog, Frankie, she focused primarily on travel and food writing. In an attempt to learn more about the alien creature she had brought into her home, she researched and wrote Am I Boring My Dog? And 99 Other Things Every Dog Wishes You Knew (Alpha/Penguin) and started blogging at WillMyDogHateMe.com. For more about her noncanine-related life and work, see http://www.ediejarolim.com.