I recently came across an story that really hit home for me, especially after hearing from friend that her beloved dog possibly has cancer. I know that when she told me, I immediately told her to make sure she gets a second opinion and speaks with specialists.

The story I came across talks about a family who was told that their sweet greyhound had osteosarcoma after having a blood clot between two of his vertebrae that was pressing against his spine removed. The vet originally told them that there was a 90 percent chance that it was nothing but took the precaution of sending it off for a biopsy.

When they returned to pick up their dog, the vet told them that the biopsy, verified by two pathologists, showed osteosarcoma, a painful and aggressive form of bone cancer. He recommended that they have their dog euthanized within days to save him the pain he would go through with this.

Their beloved dog was then brought in out to them, hobbling and in obvious pain, his pace quickened when he saw them and he bathed their tearful faces with kisses. After a couple of heart wrenching days, they decided to follow the vet’s advise and have their baby put down to save him the agony and pain they were told he would soon be experiencing.

The day before they were due to take him in, they thought he seemed to be recovering and doing better and decided to get a second opinion. They took him to a leading expert in greyhound medicine. The doctor, after reviewing his file and examining the dog, found that the biopsy had been misread and there was no cancer.

Month later their dog is fully recovered and doing great and if they hadn’t the presence of mind to get a second opinion they would never had known the error and they would have lost their dog.

How scary and horrifying!!

According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, more than 63 percent of U.S. households have pets; this includes some 73 million dogs and 90 million cats. Americans spend a fortune on their pets, over $40 billion in 2007 alone, of which more than $9 billion was for veterinary care. And yet, do people know what they are buying?

It’s well known that there are medical errors in human medicine. In a 2005 study, it was shown the 34% of people in the US have reported experiencing various preventable errors. Almost 200,000 people a year die from likely in-hospital medical errors. With statistics like this, can you even imagine what the statistics are in veterinary medicine? Our pets cannot speak for themselves and they rely on us to take care of them.

If you ever have any questions or concerns about a diagnosis, most especially a serious one, do not hesitate to get a second opinion. Just like in human medicine, veterinarians and labs make mistakes.

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