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Vet "too busy" ... calm me down before I call another vet

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  • Vet "too busy" ... calm me down before I call another vet

    OK, friends. I have called my vet but am getting blocked at the secretary who insists they are just "too busy" right now to get this horse in until Thursday at the earliest. Even when I requested a phone call from one of the three vets she acted like I was asking for the moon! We have a long-term relationship with these vets, always pay our bills, and usually the vets know if we call, it's important. As a rescue, we do a lot of our own vetting - and even when we do have to bring in a horse often act as the vet tech/assistant for the vet. This secretary is new, so I realize she probably doesn't know this, but I'm not used to getting the run around. When we call, it's serious. So ... a little upset, and while waiting for a phone call to reassure me that the horse CAN wait three days, thought I'd post here for some of that reassurance and/or ideas about what could be wrong. We're actually debating calling a different local vet at this point!

    We have a horse who has been struggling for a little over a week now. Several times she has put her head down and massive amounts of drool comes out - usually clear, but there has been some white, some yellow/orange, etc. in it. She's moody and showing abnormal behavior - difficult to catch, refusing a halter and bridle/bit, bucked off a rider on mounting. Our farrier pointed out she was slightly dehydrated on Saturday. She's flinchy/sore pretty much all over. This is a horse we've suspected to have ulcers, so she is fed Tums every day, and lately she hasn't wanted them. When she does take them or any treats, she does stretch her neck way out. Today we noticed that she is cribbing/grabbing & pulling on the water trough, had moved it several feet from the fence, even though it has nearly 40 gallons of water in it. This horse has never cribbed. She's obviously depressed/lethargic, her eyes are red and "bloodshot", and she just LOOKS like a sick horse. Her breathing is becoming labored, and especially when she attempts to do any kind of work. She does not have ongoing nasal discharge or anything like that.

    Our original thoughts were that because she was refusing/spitting out her Tums, that perhaps the suspected ulcer was flaring up. She has not been scoped. Our other thought was perhaps she has an inflamed tooth, but we haven't noticed any swelling or fever. At this point we suspect even a choke/obstruction, though we can't feel any obvious blockages and she's still able to eat and drink. We have been watching her like a hawk, observing her eat and drink, etc. We had decided yesterday to get her in to the vet this week, however today she just seems much worse with the cribbing/pulling, red eyes, and lethargy & breathing issue.

    Am I missing something in thinking she needs to see a vet today? Has anyone experienced anything like this or have any thoughts as to what non-emergent thing could be going on that makes a secretary say "wait until Thursday" and not even willingly take a message to have a vet call back? And given all this, am I wrong to be upset with the secretary? Would you go ahead and call out another vet??

    Our gut instincts say she needs to be seen today, and if I don't hear back from the vet in the next half hour we will likely be calling an alternate vet. Very disappointed with our clinic though, and I'm worried I'm letting those emotions factor into my decision making process.
    If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.
    ~ Maya Angelou

  • #2
    If it was my horse I would want the vet out, yes.

    Be sure to let your regular vet know that their new secretary is making it difficult for you to schedule what you consider an emergency call.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Also - this horse is suspected of having a metabolic issue and is scheduled for testing for thyroid and hormone tests this spring as well. I don't know if that could factor in. She's dry lotted and on grass hay, and with our winter she has yet to really be on any kind of grass.
      If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.
      ~ Maya Angelou

      Comment


      • #4
        I would be livid! Sounds to me like you need a vet out there ASAP. I understand vets are busy but at least one needs to be able to help out in emergency situations. I would consider calling another vet for this situation and then making sure your regular vet knows that the secretary is causing some issues for horse owners.

        Comment


        • #5
          Do you have your vet's cell phone? If so, I'd call that. If not, I'd get another vet out there.

          As an aside, any chance she has a partial blockage that is causing choke?

          Comment


          • #6
            If you haven't already said this to her, I would call back and tell the secretary how you've had a long term relationship with this vet clinic, but will be calling another vet out for your horse (who needs to be seen sooner than Thursday!) if she doesn't at least put you in touch with one of the vets and get their opinion on when the horse needs to be seen. I would think that the threat of potential loss of long-term business would be enough to make her take some action, but who knows! Good luck!

            Comment


            • #7
              Did she talk to one before she said they were too busy? Or did she just say they are too busy to talk to you? You know what I mean? Did you get to give her the symptoms so hopefully one of the vets will have a chance to hear what they are? I have to believe they will call you back. It sounds from your post that she isn't giving them the message?

              They could be in surgery right now and unable to call back. Or a host of other issues could be going down. So, if it were an emergency, and I couldn't get a hold of my vet I would call a different vet. I don't think the vet would mind if it were an emergency after all, would they?

              What kind of breathing issues? Only when worked? Why is she being ridden when ill? Or is "working" when she starts walking or what--how bad is the breathing. Is this an escalation of sickness just today?

              I'm hoping you have a call back by now and this is water under the bridge.
              DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/

              Comment


              • #8
                I was also wondering about a partial blockage with choke. I would call my vet because i have his cell number but everyone, even newbies, at the clinic know my name lol. Man that's bad lol. I know my vet would at least come after hours if he couldn't make it during business hours. Do they have an emergency number you can call after they close and tell him what happened and that you need him to come out and maybe he will waive the emergency fee. Otherwise I'd call another vet and let my normal vet know later.
                Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  TrotTrot - no, I do not believe she had talked to any of the vets. 2 are out on farm calls and the other is in appointments all day - not surgery. I get that it's a busy time, I really do, and I am 100% NOT upset with the vets. I did finally get the secretary to say she would "try to have Dr. J" call me back. My sister originally called, gave symptoms, and got nowhere - the secretary wouldn't even take a message to have a vet call us back, just said she couldn't get us in until Thursday. She's home sick and this is one of her heart horses, so she called me in tears and asked me to take care of it. So I called, got the same person, and when I asked to have one of the vets just give me a call so I could review the symptoms and get some reassurance that waiting three days would be ok and/or tell us we are overreacting, got "didn't I just talk to your sister about this? The vets are in appointments and can't call you back."

                  These vets are fabulous, TTP knows this, and to me it's a HUGE betrayal on my part to call another vet and/or use their cell phone numbers. But I'm just so beyond shocked that I'm left feeling like I'm doing something wrong calling about what seems to me to be an emergency that I can't tell if I'm overreacting by doing either of those things. It's bad enough that I've already arranged to take off the rest of the day from work and take her in if I just get the word. BUT I'd be satisfied talking to a vet about the symptoms and getting a "it's probably ok to wait a couple days" or "yes, bring her in right away." I'd trust either answer from one of the vets. I don't trust it from a secretary who won't even ASK a vet before putting me off.

                  I'd have to ask my sister more about the breathing - I just know she described it as labored and "almost like someone with pneumonia - that wheezing type sound." She's just been a little off up until today. Nina was going to get on her bareback last week - she hadn't shown any symptoms for a couple of days, and got bucked off. This horse hasn't bucked in over 2 years. Then this weekend, while up at the stables for the farrier, we groomed her and tried lunging her to see how she was. We knew no riding because of her flinchiness/eating issues, but thought we'd see how she did lunging. The instant she trotted she started the labored breathing, so we stopped her. That's the extent of "being worked" and was the final straw in "ok, something is seriously wrong, let's get her in to the vet in the next week or so." I have a lame horse right now that we were going to schedule at the same time for this coming Saturday. It's only today, seeing the cribbing/red eyes/pulling the water trough out, serious depression/lethargy, that we feel like she needs to be seen NOW.

                  Still waiting on a call back, and I told my sister to go ahead and give the other main horse vet a call as well. I will call back before closing and honestly, if that doesn't get me through to a vet, they'll be getting an after hours call.
                  If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.
                  ~ Maya Angelou

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Call the secretary, tell her that this is an emergent situation, and let her know that the wrath of god will fall upon her if she doesn't at least ask someone with veterinary training to triage the situation.
                    She has no business making such decisions based on a phone call.
                    "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

                    ...just settin' on the Group W bench.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Or just call Dr. L. (or your vet of choice) and get someone out there, or at least get a vet opinion on the symptoms, and then call back and talk to one of the three when you have the chance. Dr. L. is pretty laid back and will tell you if you are over-reacting. I'm sorry that I don't have the other two's cell numbers to give you. But if it is an emergency then it is an emergency and you have to get something done now. I don't think it is a betrayal to call a different vet. I don't think they would think that either! I'm sure they have no idea what is going on.

                      I would follow up. I'm sure as a business owner they would like to know how these things are being handled. AND she maybe thinks she is doing the right thing--running interference. It is a staff training opportunity, regardless and I'm sure they would appreciate the information.

                      It does sound like an emergency (I wasn't trying to attack you for working a sick horse if it came accross that way--just didn't get what she was doing that was causing the labored breathing).

                      It sounds like a blockage to me.
                      DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I think I'd probably become rather alpha mare at this point. Not a horse but I had a cat at the vet once. Vet called and said she wasn't sure the cat would make it through the night. After I had a cry, I called and got the receptionist who I asked about coming to spend some time with the vet. Receptionist told me they were too busy and couldn't accommodate that. Next thing the receptionist knew, I was standing in their office (20 minute drive and I had to have someone take a meeting for me at work). I told her that if my cat was going to die that night then I was going to say goodbye. I spent about an hour with my cat who visibly improved while I stood there, came home two days later, and lived another 8 years. The receptionist never said no to me again.

                        So, I'd be insisting that the vet call me and, if REALLY not possible, I'd be on the phone with another vet. I applaud your loyalty though and I think the vet should as well.
                        Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Goethe

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I'm thinking partial choke and you need a vet pronto.

                          I,too, would be AT the vet office, raising hell (with the secretary). I'd also let the vet know calmly. They don't take kindly to their staff making those decisions.
                          Come to the dark side, we have cookies

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            I knew it wasn't an attack And yes, Dr. L is the one we are calling instead. I have all three cell phone numbers. The semi-humorous one is we kind of have a litmus test of our own based on the on-call vet. One vet is a friend as well, so if he's on call I'll usually still leave a message even if I'm not SURE it's an emergency. The other vet I'm a little more hesitant. The third vet (the female one) if she's the one on call I always KNOW it's an emergency to me, and not just a "I'm not sure if I need a vet" situation, if I still leave a message and ask for a call back. It's our own personal "is this an emergency" test. And she's the one who would be calling me back, and I still feel I need to talk to a vet, so to me, it's an emergency

                            And yeah - knowing how they do things I know the secretary is just running interference. I know her job is to keep the schedule flowing and not bother the vets. But there has to be some kind of recognition of what is a potential emergency and what isn't. I was very clear on the phone - I basically said everything I've said here, including the "we don't call the vet unless we feel it's an emergency."

                            Hopefully I hear back shortly, but meanwhile, we're calling Dr. L. And hopefully we at least get a "relax, it's ok to wait" call back. Last report from my sister is she is standing quietly and has stopped the cribbing/pulling. Our fear is that she's having breathing issues and not getting enough oxygen OR if there is a blockage that it will get worse as she eats.
                            If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.
                            ~ Maya Angelou

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Well I found myself wondering over and over again why this mare was being asked to do any kind of "work" as you put it as she doesn't sound to be in any condition to be doing so but yes, I would call back and insist to at least talk to one of the vets and go elsewhere if that were denied.
                              McDowell Racing Stables

                              Home Away From Home

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                What color are the horses gums and what's the heart rate? You can check these yourself and report to the vet. Gums should be pale pink and heart rate should be 30-42 per min. You can feel the heart beat on the left side of the chest under the elbow, count beats for one minute.
                                Dawn

                                Patience and Consistency are Your Friends

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  What Ghazzu said. And please keep us updated. Jingling from NC.
                                  Flip a coin. It's not what side lands that matters, but what side you were hoping for when the coin was still in the air.

                                  You call it boxed wine. I call it carboardeaux.

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Sending my sister out to check the gums and heart rate now. I'll be home in about an hour to get eyes on her myself. Her last update is that her breathing is back to normal, she stopped cribbing/pulling, and she seems more relaxed. Still "blowing drool bubbles" however. We did check the gums for dehydration on Saturday after the farrier used the pinch test, since the tackiness and color of the gums is a better indicator.
                                    If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.
                                    ~ Maya Angelou

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      When my vet got a new receptionist service I had a similar issue; in my case it turned out to be that they had not written my name down correctly and thus didn't realize I was a current client.

                                      I find that I can maximize the use of the phone consult (and the message left) if I can be extremely specific - IE, rather than "breathing hard" if I say, "Respiration is 60 and the temperature is 103" it lends a whole different urgency to the situation and skips a lot of steps.

                                      If your vets have email or if the condition is intermittent, some cell phone pictures may be helpful as well, just to get a sense of how things change or don't.

                                      You haven't mentioned if you've taken this horse's temperature; I would definitely do that.
                                      If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I hope she is doing better and that you have heard from the vet by now.

                                        45 years of owning animals has taught me that the owner (and the one paying the bills) decides what and when is an emergency......not some secretary or office manager.

                                        Best Wishes

                                        Comment

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