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Tripawds Reads and Recommends ‘Vet Confidential’

Vet Confidential: An Insider’s Guide to Protecting Your Pet’s Health
by Louise Murray, D.V.M.

Tripawd pawrents understand what it’s like to make difficult medical decisions under pressure. For many of us, the decision to amputate is our introduction to the world of vet specialists and high tech medicine. Oftentimes, the learning curve is steep, and stressful.

You can shorten the learning curve, by reading Vet Confidential: An Insider’s Guide to Protecting Your Pet’s Health,written by Dr. Louise Murray, Director of Medicine at the ASPCA’s Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York City.

Once you read it, you’ll wish you had a copy long before your furry friend came home with you. Dr. Murray’s book approaches subjects that humans don’t want to think about when they bring a new dog home, but this easy, excellent read points out why it’s so important to get informed, before medical care is necessary.

This book is hailed as “a practical road map to modern veterinary medicine,” and it lives up to the promise.

Pawrents will appreciate its plain-English approach to describing modern veterinary care, technology, and health care options. Some highlights include:

Finding a Quality Vet

Learn what questions to ask over the phone, before you visit a new clinic. The answers are critical to your pet’s good health. Pawrents are urged to ask questions such as:

How are patients monitored at night?
If your dog ever needs overnight hospitalization, you need to be sure that he’ll get quality care. Having trained staff at night can mean the difference between a smooth recovery and serious complications.

Did you know that not all vets provide overnight care? Some have staff that check on patients intermittently throughout the night, others have techs available all night long, and smaller practices may have arrangements with larger facilities that allow them to transfer patients there at night, and return them in the morning. Many times, pawrents must act as the ambulance. Would you want to move your critically sick animal back and forth?

Are Modern Anesthesia Techniques Being Used?
It’s critical to find out what type of anesthesia the practice uses. The most modern standard of gas anesthesia are isoflurane and sevoflurane. Halothane, an older gas anesthesia, is not as safe.

You’ll not only learn why choosing a practice with up to date anesthesia techniques is so critical, but you can also find out what kinds of things your vet is looking for when examining your dog or cat, how to best prepare for your first visit, and what to do if you don’t like the way your vet is handling your animal.

The book also includes worksheets that you can take along to every vet visit.

These first two chapters are filled with so much important information, that they alone are worth the cost of the book. But if you keep reading, you’ll learn the ins and outs of veterinary medicine, such as:

Know why they are important, which ones are needed and in what part of the country, and how they protect your dog. Dr. Murray discusses the current controversy on over-vaccination, and outlines ways in which you can ensure your pet will receive the right amounts and frequencies of vaccinations.

From neurologists to ophthalmologists, understand the variety of veterinary specialties, and know when it’s time for your dog to see a specialist.

Diagnostic Tests:
Did you ever wonder why your vet decided that Fido needed a certain kind of test? Dr. Murray deciphers everything from endoscopies to myelograms, who’s
qualified to perform them, and when they might be necessary for your animal.

Alternative Medicine:
Learning about the myriad options available can be overwhelming, and it’s tempting to try everything under the sun to improve your dog’s health. But before you do, it’s critical that you understand how to be safe with herbs and alternative treatments.

Although Dr. Murray is not entirely convinced that alternative medicine is the best approach for animals (“properly designed studies . . . have not been carried out.”), she offers practical guidelines if you decide to use them.

Far too often, vets turn to corticosteroids without properly investigating the real cause of an ongoing illness. Steroids will offer a quick fix, but it’s only temporary, and most often they just mask the real cause. Learn what steroids are, how they affect the body, when they are appropriate, and find out why you should never, ever let your vet give a steroid to your dog before a concrete diagnosis is made.

Becoming an Informed Consumer

Vet Confidential also takes a look at other common situations that we pawrents often encounter, such as:

What if Things Go Wrong?
Sadly, sometimes tragedy happens to animals while under the care of a vet. When things go wrong, how can you be sure the situation was handled appropriately? What if you suspect it was negligence on your vet’s behalf? Learn how to tell if your animal has been harmed by a vet, how to separate grief from blame, and what to do if you suspect that your animal suffered neglect at the hands of your veterinarian.

Avoiding Pet Debt
Veterinary medical costs are rising almost as fast as medical care for humans. Be prepared before illness strikes, because there is nothing more tragic than not being able to afford care for your family pet. Learn how to manage health care costs, tips for preventative care that can save you money, and get the rundown on pet insurance plans.

Saying Goodbye
Sadly, our animals lives are far too short, and there will come a time when all pawrents must make end of life decisions for them. As hard as it is to think about, don’t wait until the time is at hand to make decisions. Save yourself some heartache and stress, and prepare for the inevitable by reading the chapter “Making Decisions at the End.

Dr. Murray provides insight on how to assess whether or not it’s your pet’s time to say goodbye. You’ll learn what constitutes proper, compassionate veterinary care at the end of life, and understand why euthanasia is the compassionate thing to do for our friends. Know how the procedure works, and what to expect before, during and after. This is certainly a difficult subject to approach, but one that’s far easier to read about in happier times. Don’t wait.

We can’t emphasize enough how important this book is for all pet pawrents. At one time or another, each one of us will find ourselves in the vet’s office, making costly decisions that can affect our pet’s lives forever. Do your pet and your pocketbook a favor, and educate yourself about modern veterinary medicine ahead of time, by reading Veterinary Confidential today.

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