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Your dog suffers a broken leg. A veterinarian anesthetizes and admits him to apply a splint, thus exposing your pet to needless stress and you to more expense.


June 17, 2019

Barbara "BJ" Andrews, Editor-In-Chief, SAAB


We received a complaint from a medical professional who thought admitting his dog was unnecessary and typical of “gouging” complaints. He said his field dog had a clean break which, had it been a child, would have been radiographed, set, casted, and sent home in little over an hour. He wryly added that costs were about the same!


In another case, a toy breed dog with a clean break was put under anesthesia to be x-rayed and have a splint applied. The little dog, already severely stressed, was then placed in a steel cage in a hostile environment among strangers, surrounded by other dogs moaning in pain or barking-begging to go home. He was released late the next day with instructions to return (repeatedly) to have the splint adjusted.


The splint may have been a better choice than a heavier cast but that isn’t the point. Whether that veterinarian’s protocol was more stressful for the dog or the owner is a toss-up but it was obviously more profitable to that veterinary practice.


Hospitalization runs the bill up and provides more opportunity for unnecessary “testing” and/or sedation which would not have been done a decade ago. It also stresses the dog even more and exposes him to countless viral and bacterial contaminants. Sure, the practice is immaculate, the air is filtered but this is a dog whose immune system is already stressed. If at all possible, a dog needs to go home where he is comfortable, and comforted.


The case piqued our curiosity so we did some digging. First, what’s the difference between casts and splints? Casts provide more support and protection for a broken limb. Casts are made from plaster or fiberglass that can be easily molded to the shape of the injured arm or leg. A splint is lighter in weight, more like a “half cast.” The hard part of a splint does not wrap all the way around the injured area. It is held in place by an elastic bandage or other material. A splint is slightly less protective but is of lighter weight and more maneuverable than a cast.


Which is more profitable to the practice is debatable and of little concern to owners. But hospitalization is of primary concern to both owners and veterinary providers. From either perspective, it runs the bill up and provides more opportunity for unnecessary “testing” and/or sedation which would not have been done a decade ago.


If however, the attending veterinarian senses the owner is unlikely or incapable of providing proper home care, it is clearly better to hospitalize the dog.


If you have experienced what you believe to be price gouging by a veterinary practice, share a brief description of the incident but omit the name of the veterinarian or veterinary practice. You can mention the city or state and if a reader wants more information they can click to contact you. EST 2002 © 1906



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