Note to the Reader

1 – Medical Advocacy 101
Why Your Dog Needs a Medical Advocate
Why the Advocate Needs to Be You
Advocacy Starts Early

2 – Medical Decision-Making You and Your Dog Can Live With
How to Make Choices
Your Dog’s Best Interest
What Are the Facts?
Does the Medical Plan Make Sense?
Does Your Dog’s Personality Play a Role?
What Is Your Dog’s Job Description?
How Does Your Dog’s Age and Overall Health Play a Role?
Can You Change Your Decision if You Don’t Like What You See?
What Does Your Dog Think?
What Best Serves Your Peace of Mind?
When Costs Get in the Way
When No One Knows What’s Truly Best for Your Dog

3 – Finding Dr. Wonderful and Your Mutt’s Mayo Clinic
Getting Started
In Search of the Ideal Veterinarian
Figure Out What’s Important to You
The Importance of Communication
Paternalistic and Relationship-Centered Care
Veterinary Communication Styles
Time to Pay a Visit
Finding Your Mutt’s Mayo Clinic

4 – The Office Visit:What You Can Do to Help Your Dog…and Your Vet
What to Expect During a Routine Visit
Your Dog’s History: What Your Vet Needs to Know
What’s Involved in a Physical Exam
The 10 Commandments of Veterinary Office Visits
I: Thou Shalt Push Thy Veterinarian off Her Pedestal
II: Thou Shalt be Present
III: Thou Shalt Let the Staff Know if Thy Dog Is Aggressive
IV: Thou Shalt Provide Information
V: Thou Shalt Confess Everything
VI: Thou Shalt Pause for Confusion
VII: Thou Shalt Share Thy Concerns
VIII: Thou Shalt Ask Questions
IX: Thou Shalt Treat the Entire Staff Well
X: Thou Shalt Always Come Away with a Plan

5 – Wow, I Didn’t Know You Could Do That on Dogs!
Veterinary Specialists
CT and MRI Scans
Digital Radiography
Nuclear Medicine
Interventional Cardiac Procedures
Laparoscopy, Thoracoscopy, and Arthroscopy
Radiation Therapy
Cancer Vaccine
Blood Transfusions
Amazing Surgical Procedures
Pain Management
Physical Rehabilitation
Advanced Dental Procedures
Prescription Diets
Stem Cell Therapy
The Wave of the Future

6 – The Vaccination Conundrum
Vaccinating in the 21st Century
AAHA Vaccination Recommendations
Available Vaccines
Vaccination Adverse Reactions
Vaccine Serology
Vaccination Clinics
Vaccinating Your Own Dog

7 – Important Questions to Ask Your Vet…and How to Ask Them
General Recommendations
Universal Questions
Questions on General Topics
Newly Prescribed Medication
Special Diagnostic and Therapeutic Procedures
General Anesthesia
Spaying and Neutering
Breeding Your Dog

8 – When the Diagnosis Is Cancer
What Causes Cancer?
Cancer Lingo
Preparing to Make Decisions about Your Dog’s Cancer
The Three Levels of Decision-Making
Level One: Diagnosing Your Dog’s Cancer
Level Two: Staging Your Dog’s Cancer
Level Three: Treating Your Dog’s Cancer
Radiation Therapy
Complementary/Alternative Therapy
Dietary Therapy
Final Words of Wisdom

9 – A Second Opinion Is Always Okay
The Courage to Talk to Another Doc
When to Get a Second Opinion
Where to Get a Second Opinion
Second Opinion Etiquette

10 – Money Matters
Money Talk
Price Shopping
Cost Estimates
Financing Your Dog’s Veterinary Care
A Line of Credit for Medical Expenses
The World of Pet Health Insurance
The Money-Savvy Advocate

11 – Euthanasia: Making the Best of a Difficult Situation
Who Should Make the Decision?
When Is the Right Time?
“Closure Time”
Choices to Consider
What Actually Happens When a Dog Is Euthanized
Alternatives to Euthanasia

Appendix I: Common Symptoms and Questions
Your Vet Will Ask about Them 259

Appendix II: Common Diseases and Questions
You Should Ask Your Vet about Them
Monitoring Your Dog’s Vital Parameters
Toxic Substances
Recommended Reading

Forms and Charts

Illustration and Photo Credits


Please visit to read excerpts from the book. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog. SPEAKING FOR SPOT is available at, local bookstores, or your favorite online book seller.

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