Q: I want to get a second opinion but I don't want to make my veterinarian mad. Is this a good idea? How do I do it without hurting her feelings? My veterinarian is good at what she does but my horse has lots of issues.
A: Sometimes we all have gut feelings that indicate we are missing something. We probably need to listen to this voice; it is often recognizing subtle clues that we can't consciously identify. A second opinion is almost always a good idea in veterinary medicine as in human medicine. A fresh look or a new perspective often gives an answer or leads in a new direction that can solve the problem.
Most referral centers will ask if you want them to talk to your regular veterinarian or not, it is up to you. You can elect a middle ground where your veterinarian gets the information even if they did not know you were going to a specialist.
Ideally, however, your veterinarian is included and on board with the plan as that will enable the best care for your horse. You might try, "I have a feeling we are missing something and would like to expand our team. Do you have a recommendation for a specialist in this area?" If you meet reluctance, tell her how it impacts you, "I don't think I will sleep well until I pursue this and would like to do this with you as I trust you to help me sort out any conflicting advice and make sure I have all the medical history correct".
With your veterinarian involved, the horse benefits from the knowledge of his regular veterinarian along with the additional knowledge of the specialist, both before and after the appointment.
By Erin Malone, DVM, University of Minnesota