Posted on April 14, 2013
Dreaming of Dr. Dolittle
The work veterinarians perform is not unlike that of pediatricians. In neither exam room can the patients directly “tell” their stories. They are unable to say, “Doc, it hurts every time my leg bends this way.” or, “I get a stomach ache every time I eat dairy.”
I think most vets would agree that, in the vast majority of cases, working with nonverbal patients (should I say, those who speak a language we don’t fully understand) does not handicap our ability to hone in on the diagnosis. History provided by our clients along with physical examination findings typically point us in the right direction. In certain cases, however, some Dr. Dolittle skills would come in mighty handy.
Take for example, the dog who appears stiff and sore at home, but happens to be profoundly stoic in the exam room. I push on his back, flex and extend every joint, palpate the abdomen, tug on his tail, and manipulate his neck in a fashion reminiscent of The Exorcist. Heck, I even perform a rectal exam. Yet I get nothing- neither a wince nor a whimper. Which of this poor fella’s body parts is in need of special attention? Dr. Dolittle would know.
Then there is the dog who has developed some strange behavior. From 7:00 to 10:00 every evening, he compulsively paces and whines and cannot be soothed. At all other times this dog seems perfectly normal, with no change in appetite or activity level. And wouldn’t you know it, his physical exam findings and blood and urine test results are normal. Is this dog’s behavior change physical or psychological in nature? Is the house haunted or is this poor pup experiencing an unusual case of indigestion? Dr. Dolittle would know.
If I could be Dr. Dolittle, the perks would extend well beyond simply making a diagnosis. I would learn many things from my patients that would allow me to enhance the quality of their lives. Think what I would do if I heard, “Doc, that cast you just put on my leg is pinching the heck out of my elbow.” or, “Please convince my mom to quit taking me to the dog park. I just hate it there!”
Most importantly, if I could “talk to the animals” I could know with certainty which of my very sick patients still held the desire to “fight the good fight,” and which ones were wishing for a peaceful and humane end to their suffering. Wouldn’t that be an incredible gift!
Professional animal communicators, also know as pet psychics, are the closest thing to modern day Dr. Dolittles. I’ve worked with many clients who have sought second opinions from animal communicators, and some have provided truly insightful and helpful information. I’ve learned that, just as with any other profession, there are animal communicators who are charlatans and those who are the “real deal”. I believe that consultation with a capable pet psychic can be an invaluable adjunct to medical care, but should not substitute for consultation with a veterinarian.
Have you ever wished you had access to Dr. Dolittle for one of your pets? Have you ever worked with an animal communicator? If so, please share your experience.
Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
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Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at www.speakingforspot.com, Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.