Sometimes misunderstandings occur in medical care.
When talking to your physician or your pet’s doctor, listen for words like “permanently” and “forever.”
Like many medical offices we distribute many handouts and educational literature. In fact, our practice software allows us to put educational information right on our clients’ receipts, keyed to the procedures we performed that day or suggested for the future.
We also produce an Examination Report Form for each patient examined. With all of this literature we seek to educate pet owners on how better to deal with current illnesses or prevent future problems with their pets.
We experienced just such a breakdown in communication today when Fluffy the dog came in to have her anal sacs expressed and her owner had a question about her cat, Pouncer.
“A few months ago you dispensed the Prescription Diet c/d for Pouncer for some crystals she had, and she was urinating all over the house,” Pouncer’s owner recalled.
“Yes, they were struvite crystals,” I quoted from the medical record. “She was suffering from FLUTD, Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease.”
“That’s right, I remember now. Pouncer did great, I finished the bag of food, then I went back to a store-brand food. Was I supposed to keep her on the c/d permanently?”
There’s that word! Permanently!
“Yes, ma’am,” I replied. “Pouncer’s metabolism will always have the tendency to concentrate the components of struvite crystals in her urine. Magnesium, phosphate and ammonium ions get together to form struvite crystals. They can cause inflammation and, if enough of them coalesce, struvite stones can form in the urinary bladder. This is yet another instance where prevention is better than treatment, and Pouncer might never have another episode of urinary tract inflammation if she never eats anything but c/d.”
In fact, there are very few pets for whom we prescribe special diets that the food is not to be fed permanently. We might dispense a special bland diet, Prescription Diet i/d temporarily for a gastrointestinal upset, but, in general, special diets are forever, or at least as long as they are working.
When in doubt, though, ask your veterinarian before making a change. We’re always happy for you to call with questions, and this is one of those easy questions to answer. Pouncer’s mom gives good advice: I’ll pick up some c/d today, while I’m here. Neither Pouncer nor I want go through that again!”
See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.