Guilt-based medicine doesn’t pay that well

In an earlier post (here), I detailed how we were referred to a “holistic” veterinary practice for some severe allergies that afflicted our Golden Retriever.   These vets not only didn’t fix our dog’s allergies — thanks again Dr. Tapp — but they even threw in a free guilt trip for my wife about putting our dog on heartworm medicine too early in the year.

So what did we get in the mail today — 26 February — from that holistic practice?  A reminder postcard that “it isn’t too early to start your dog on Heartgard.”

I guess even the sanctimony business has been affected by the recession.

Guilt-Based vs. Evidence-Based Medicine…you decide

OK, it’s veterinary medicine, but the point still holds.  Our golden retriever, Nikki, has had intermittent skin issues for a couple of years now.  She’d gnaw at her paws, scratch and rub at a spot, and we’d have to cart her to our regular vet.  With a few Benadryl and an occasional prednisone shot Nikki would be OK.

But for about a year now she’s been miserable.  Our groomer had been pushing the idea that these issues were caused by our “poor” and “unnatural” feeding habits, especially to my wife.  In particular, she suggested that we try a “holistic” vet down the road.  We aren’t the crunchiest folks in the world, but we thought it was worth trying since our regular vet hadn’t “cured” it and this vet had good Western medicine credentials.

Nikki got the once over — though no lab work — and was prescribed a new diet and some Chinese herbs.  Oh, and my wife received a nice dose of guilt for not getting Nikki there sooner.  Oh, and I won’t get into the keeping the dog on Heartguard too long lecture. 

$500 later — and as you might guess by the title — it didn’t work.  In fact, she was probably worse.  We ended up back with our regular vet, who stabilized Nikki and suggested that we go one more round w/ anti-histamines.  Then if that didn’t work, she’d refer us to a canine dermatologist.  Sure enough, Nikki was better, but not “all” better, so we were referred to Tiffany Tapp (Dermatology Department of Veterinary Healing Arts). 

And a funny thing happened; Dr. Tapp used the scientific method.  Blood tests!  Skin tests!  Cultures of Nikki’s hot spots!  A differential diagnosis!  And an even funnier thing happened: she discovered a fungal infection all others had missed (which probably never quite goes away).  A course of anti-fungals and antibiotics to clear up any secondary infections and Nikki is right as rain.

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