Lou Anne Wolfe
Dr. Lou Anne Wolfe practices at Marina Animal Clinic in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A graduate of the Oklahoma State University College of Veterinary Medicine, she previously worked as a business and political reporter at newspapers in Oklahoma City and as a special-projects writer at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.Read Articles Written by Lou Anne Wolfe
Clients often work hard to diagnose and fix their ailing pets by surfing the internet or contacting a friend whose sister used to work as a kennel attendant at a veterinary clinic. Sometimes a pet store clerk advises a client that equine ivermectin paste will work just as well in a dog. Just a tablespoon or two of the preventive and they can outsmart the pricey veterinarian.
First, I will entertain and amuse you with smug “I can’t believe anyone would do this” episodes from my client encounters. Then I am going to eat a big slice of humble pie.
The Remedy Was a Bust
Setting her Shih Tzu on the exam table, a client told me the dog had stopped eating and was lethargic. Another veterinarian had diagnosed her with a bladder stone, and the client decided to dissolve it with therapeutic dog food. Unfortunately, the only food labeled to do it was out of stock, so my resourceful client went online and ordered a supplement dubbed “Urolith Buster.” When it didn’t work, she brought her dog to us rather than return to the original veterinarian for surgery.
I cringed as I palpated the egg-sized hard mass in my patient’s bladder. I didn’t need a radiograph to tell me:
- The dog needed surgery ASAP.
- Whittling down that rock would take maybe five years and countless cans of therapeutic dog food.
- I’d better convince the client that her dog was suffering greatly. I did.
The Wrong Answer
A cat with very inflamed ears was brought to me by a man who said he had been treating the feline every eight hours with a Walmart product. I asked what he was using, and he replied that it was the one in the little white bottle.
“Well, it’s not working,” I said flatly, explaining that the cat had an ear infection and that I was prescribing topical medication with antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties. I left the room to gather what I needed, returned and was putting the finishing touches on the computer when the client asked, “Where do those come from, anyway?”
I asked what he meant, and he said he was referring to ear mites. Only then did it dawn on me that he was using a miticide in the cat’s ears three times daily when such products are usually labeled for use about twice weekly.
A sweet elderly lady and her young caretaker brought in Bella the Chihuahua, who was acting standoffish, probably because she was in pain. To make her dog feel better, the client tried crushing up one children’s Motrin tablet daily and putting it into chicken McNuggets with gravy. The dog liked it but still didn’t want to be held. I was appalled.
The dog’s bloodwork was miraculously normal. We switched to veterinary medications.
Some clients whose puppies have parvovirus cannot afford hospitalization, so we offer outpatient treatment once daily, and we do our best to educate the owners on the importance of a bland diet when their dogs can handle food again. One client reported that his puppy wouldn’t eat, so he fed him raw chicken.
Fishing for an Answer
Defeated when his dog’s laceration wouldn’t heal, a man brought in his 75-pound dog, whose wound was now infected. “I was giving him antibiotics,” he said defensively.
The antibiotics were low-dose ampicillin tablets marketed for fish tanks and had been sold to him by a “knowledgeable” employee at a pet store.
Immune to the Facts
The big, white pit bulldog lying morosely on my treatment table had seemed “off” for about two to eight months, his owner recounted. The patient, whose rectal temperature was 95 degrees Fahrenheit, was recumbent, his eyes darting back and forth in horizontal nystagmus, and his mouth caked with dried and fluid saliva.
The client said the dog stopped eating the previous day. Her sister, who worked for a veterinarian “for a long time,” told the client, “When their mouth looks like that, it could be lupus.”
A Mea Culpa
One by one, the batteries on my favorite wristwatches were dying. I live in a rural area, and when I am not working in Tulsa, Oklahoma, I trek to the city only when I have no choice, such as for a mammogram, cataract surgery or my French bulldog’s compounded piroxicam prescription.
I took one of my watches to Walmart to get a new battery. The clerk asked if I had bought the watch there. I said no, and she folded her arms and said she could not help me. “It is what it is. Thank you,” I said sarcastically.
I drove down the street to a small jewelry store. Yes, the owner said, he could replace the battery, but it would take about a week because he had several watches to do. I thanked him and decided to look further.
“Maybe I can replace my watch batteries,” I thought.
Is there nothing you can’t find online? Yes, you can buy watch repair kits, but I wasn’t convinced. Then I remembered the pawn shop on Highway 20, so I took my bulldog watch and antique Native American turquoise watch there.
“Well, I guess I can replace the battery in the bulldog watch, but I really don’t want to touch the other one,” the owner said. What a wimp.
“How hard can it be?” I thought, so I bullied him into doing the bulldog watch. He told me a watchmaker downtown could handle the turquoise watch.
On my next day off, I made my way to the second floor of an office building in downtown Claremore, where a husband and wife team harmoniously care for and nurture watches. They have a watch graveyard where they harvest transplant parts to rejuvenate other timepieces.
I offered up my turquoise watch, he replaced the battery, and I happily went on my way, but not before asking him to help me find an old-fashioned windup watch so I could avoid bending the fragile silver attachments that had to be disturbed every time we changed batteries.
About a week later, I donned my turquoise timepiece only to find it had stopped. I couldn’t believe it. It was about three weeks before I got back to the watchmaker, who replaced the battery and regarded it closely. The cheap watch I had bought for the turquoise bracelet was rapidly draining the battery.
“I might have a watch we could put in this bracelet,” he said, rummaging through the graveyard. He came up with the perfect one.
As I lamented striving to get people to replace my watch batteries, he patiently explained that unknowledgeable people who try to work on watches easily damage the tiny, fragile components. He said he had repaired a lot of watches brought to him by people who had the batteries replaced in department stores.
The price of my rejuvenated watch was about what I paid for the new, cheap one. And it works reliably, day after day.
There’s no substitute for education.
According to Cult of Mac, the first Apple watches, released in 1995, are nice collector’s pieces. “Expect to pay a few hundred dollars for one on eBay (although some folks will try to reap up to four figures),” the website advises.