Although we love our clients and patients dearly, we understand why you sometimes may need another veterinarian’s opinion. While we strive to be everything to everyone, we cannot fulfill every pet’s needs every time, and you may need to seek a second opinion, which is totally OK. We promise—no hard feelings. Here are four reasons you may need to look for a second veterinary opinion.

#1: Your pet needs specialized skills and knowledge

Our Westerville Veterinary Clinic team enjoys emergency and internal medicine, but we are largely general practitioners. If your pet develops an obscure condition, or concurrent health issues that make treatment challenging, a veterinary specialist’s unique skillset and knowledge may be critical. 

A veterinary specialist undergoes eight years of higher education, first gaining their veterinary degree, and then focusing on a specific area of study. Specialists are considered experts in their chosen disciplines, because they have a more comprehensive, thorough understanding of their specialty area, which may be cardiology, dermatology, internal medicine, behavior, neurology, ophthalmology, oncology, or dentistry. General practitioners have a basic knowledge of conditions that fall in these areas, but a specialist’s care is often needed for the best prognosis and outcome.

#2: Your pet needs advanced equipment or therapies

General veterinary practices have diagnostic equipment that can identify more common conditions and overarching problems, but pinpointing uncommon or unusual illnesses or diseases often requires more advanced equipment. For example, if your dachshund is weak in the hind end, they may have a partially herniated intervertebral disc. X-rays can reveal vertebral narrowing, but an MRI may be necessary to definitively diagnose a bulging disc. Advanced imaging equipment is typically found only in specialty hospitals or universities, so your pet needs a referral to take advantage of such tools.

Advanced therapies can be hugely beneficial for your pet’s treatment and can help them recover much more quickly. For example, after your dachshund’s herniated disc is surgically corrected, they will require a physical rehabilitation program to help them regain muscle mass and mobility. While some rehabilitation therapies can be performed in a general practice, advanced therapies (e.g., hydrotherapy) require a specialty hospital.

#3: Your pet is not improving with treatment

Sometimes, a treatment plan simply isn’t improving your pet’s condition and you decide you would like to seek additional therapies or consult with another veterinarian who may be able to offer novel treatments that aren’t widely known. Seeking a second opinion when your pet is not improving or if you want to see if you can do more to alleviate their condition never hurts.

When you get a second opinion about your pet, ensure you have a copy of all their medical records and test results for the specialist. While they may want to repeat some tests to see if results have changed, having your current veterinarian’s thoughts and potential treatment plans will aid in collaborative, more effective treatment.

#4: You want reassurance that you’re doing the right thing for your pet

While veterinarians know a great deal about multiple species, the sheer breadth of information about animals is staggering. No single person can know everything about every pet species, although specialists focus on specific fields to gain a deeper understanding and knowledge. 

As time goes on and your pet fails to improve, or you have a gut feeling that something is being missed, you likely want to feel confident that you’ve done everything you can for your furry pal. Pet owners who ask for a second opinion often feel bad because they seem to be doubting their regular veterinarian or going over their head, but seeking a second opinion as reassurance that they are on the correct path is always beneficial. Not only will you have peace of mind, but another pair of eyes may find a key detail that was missed. Collaboration is key for providing the ultimate care for pets.

Does your pet have a difficult problem that is not improving or a condition you find difficult to manage? If so, a second opinion may be beneficial in providing your pet with the best care. Give our Westerville Veterinary Clinic team a call to discuss a referral for your pet, or for a second-opinion consultation with our veterinarians.