Chance had her annual exam on the last Friday in March at the vet clinic we have been going to since December 2011 with the vet that had been our favorite.
Her vet seemed like a completely different person for this visit. She seemed on edge. Her attitude from the beginning had me so confused/bewildered/befuddled, that I didn't even realize she wasn't doing a real annual exam.
First, the vet said Chance was on "a lot" of supplements. This vet has been fine with the supplements she has been on in the past since they are all the standard supplements for joint problems. We buy them as separate powders to make giving them to Chance easier because she refuses to eat chewable formulas. She is only on one additional supplement since last year and that was recommended by her chiropractor.
The vet asked with a little snort, "Do any of them even work?"
I said yes. She did one of those little sarcastic type laughs where no sound comes out and looked like she didn't believe me.
The head to toe exam she performed was technically head to toe, she just didn't bother to check the parts in between.
The following Monday at 9:00 a.m., the vet call to tell us Chance's fecal sample tested positive for a parasite called Sarcosystis and wanted to know if the raw diet included raw meat. I know the vet said she didn’t know much about raw diets but I did find this question a bit ridiculous!
In her message, she said she knew nothing about this parasite because it is rare but it can only come from eating raw meat and she was going to have to consult with an internal medicine veterinary specialist to see what she should use to treat it.
I had never heard of this parasite and I could only find information on how it affects people and horses.
When I called the vet back a little after 11, she said it was so rare in this country that she knew nothing about it except it was "one of the worst parasites a dog could get, a parasite you never want to see in a fecal, extremely serious, can only come from eating raw meat" and she was going to contact an internal medicine veterinary specialist who has treated this parasite to ask what to use, for how long, and what to do after treatment.
She said even with treatment, this "serious" parasite may not be eradicated. She inferred it would shorten Chance’s lifespan without treatment. I also got "the lecture" about how this is the reason vets are against all raw diets.
My 1st thought was to wonder how in all my many months of researching raw meat parasites and illnesses, I had missed the one the vet said was "one of the worst." I knew about Trichinosis, cold-resistant Trichinosis, Salmon Poisoning, liver flukes, tapeworms, prion diseases, salmonella, e-coli, etc.
My 2nd thought was "Why have you not called the specialist yet since you are making this out to be a serious health problem? It's been over 2 hours."
While waiting for the vet to call back about what the specialist had said, I reached out to other raw feeders to see what they knew.
It was 1:30 p.m. before the vet called back to say she "finally got around to calling the specialist" and an antibiotic that works on this type of protozoan parasite was suggested. It was one they didn't stock so she would get that called in to the human pharmacy of our choice so I could get it ASAP and we could immediately begin treatment.
Her idea of calling it in ASAP was not the same as mine since I was getting ready to call the vet clinic to tell them I was on my way down to get the damn prescription when the pharmacy said it had just been called in. That was at 5:00 p.m.
I started getting information from other raw feeders and found out this parasite can contaminate water sources so it wasn't only from raw meat and it is a coccidia-like parasite.
Chance had coccidia as a puppy complete with the typical gastrointestinal upset and horrible diarrhea. She didn't have the gastrointestinal upset or diarrhea.
Tuesday I finally had some success finding information on how this affects other animals.
The information from Oklahoma State University stated the parasite is non-pathogenic in dogs and cats and no further treatment is warranted. It also said it's common in reptiles, birds, and mammals with most cattle and lamb/sheep being affected.
The information from the Merck Veterinary Manual stated that freezing it at 24.8 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 days or at -4 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 day also killed the parasite in experiments. With the exception of 3 meals in late February and the first week of March, all of Chance's food has been frozen at between 0 degrees Fahrenheit and -20 degrees Fahrenheit for weeks, months or even a year.
I also found information from a department of natural resources website stating there was a recently discovered infective stage transmitted through infected feces.
I sent an email to the vet clinic on Tuesday with this information, including the links to the websites, and asked why she chose to treat, especially since people were asking if a second fecal had been run to rule out a laboratory error.
The vet called back on Wednesday while Chance was having her massage so I let it go voicemail.
The vet said she chose to treat the parasitic infection with antibiotics SOLELY to prevent gastrointestinal upset associated with coccidia-like infections.
And here we thought she was treating it because it was such a bad, dangerous, serious parasite since that was what she kept telling us.
She said she based her choice to treat off the research she had done on the parasite.
Her exact words: "I went to the trouble of going the extra mile to research the parasite by calling a specialist and asking what antibiotic to use and for how long." If we chose not to treat the parasite, that was up to us and we didn't have to give any more of the antibiotic she prescribed on Monday.
We consider it to be common sense and the right thing to do when a medical professional who has no knowledge of a medical situation (including how to treat it) consults with another medical professional who does have that knowledge via first hand experience.
I don't see why it was going to any trouble or going any extra distance to pick up a phone and ask "what do you do in this situation?" I guess it was that "trouble" that kept her from calling the specialist for so many hours after telling us just how horrible and dire this situation was.
Even after sending the information to the vet clinic and even though the vet said she only prescribed antibiotics as gastrointestinal upset prevention, that vet is still insisting this parasite is extremely serious, must be treated, can only come from raw meat, and cooking is the only way to kill it.
Adventures In Raw Feeding: my woman's blog!