Your Cat Has an Abscess (and Other Telephone Diagnosis)
Top Ten Diagnosis Your Veterinarian Can (Probably) Make Over the Phone With More Accuracy than a Weather Forecast
Medicine is a hands-on art. The practice of medicine in the United States legally means diagnosing, prescribing, and performing surgery upon animals. Familiarity with an animal or herd means having physically seen or been in contact with the owner and the animal or the housing facilities (in the cases of herds) within an Earth year (365 days). Sometimes, as a veterinarian, Doc Truli wonders how accurate a diagnosis could be over the phone.
For example, all veterinarians know that when a client calls and says a dog is constipated, it probably is not. Probably the dog has such bad diarrhea, that there is no more solid material coming out and the poor dog is straining relentlessly. Treatments such as laxatives for constipation will clearly make the dog miserable.
Veterinarians also know that when a client calls and says there is profuse bleeding and they think it’s coming from a cut on the lip, it’s coming from a cut on the tongue. Lips don’t bleed all that much. Tongues bleed terribly from even the smallest little tear (That reminds me of a story I have for you – but I’ll save it for another week!) So your veterinarian looks like a genius targeting the tongue and finding the problem right away. It’s easy to find something when you already know it must be there!
Other diagnosis are nearly certain, more accurate than a weather forecast, but not 100% until the hands-on physical exam confirms the situation.
Top Ten Telephone Diagnosis (in no particular order)
Cat Fight Abscess
If a client calls with a cat who goes outside, especially a house cat that only goes out at dawn and dusk, and the cat does not want to eat, is not moving much, and is lying around, he or she probably has an abscess somewhere. If the cat comes to the office and has a fever, then it is nearly certain.
Cranial Cruciate Knee Injury
If a dog is suddenly limping and holding one hind leg up in the air when walking and sitting with the leg out to the side, a knee injury is 85% likely. If it is a medium to large breed dog, it is even more likely.
“My dog is vomiting and isn’t eating much.” Or “My dog is urinating like crazy.” Or “My dog is constipated and panting.” AND “My dog is not spayed and was in heat in the past 2 months.” This dog is likely to have pyometra – a life-threatening uterine infection.
Bufo Toad Toxicity
Tooth Root Abscess
Crazy right? Everyone knows about fleas right? Well, for one, some people have never seen a flea. For two, some people need their glasses to see a flea and they can’t get them on in time to see the little things. Plus, you cannot see what you do not believe. Half of all skin problems are due to fleas in cats and dogs and ferrets in the United States.
Bonus: Top Two Diagnosis in Pets (and They Are Impossible to Diagnose Over the Phone)
Can you guess the top three medical diagnosis in pets? To be fair- one of them is a broad category of problems that are the most likely reason pets leave their homes and end up at the animal shelter. The other two are common, even in young pets. Probably 90% of my patients over the age of two years have one or the other of these diagnosis. Neither of them can be confirmed for sure over the phone.