For Veterinarian Advice It's Best To Ask The Veterinarian...

Written by Dr Lisa Towns

"Okay Mrs Jones, I suspect that Fluffy has a skin infection, so I'll just take a little sample with some sticky tape and have a look at it under the microscope," I said to the worried owner.

"Yes, go ahead and do what needs to be done," said Mrs Jones as I prepared my sample from the lesion on her dog's tummy. 

"Is it a very unusual thing then, do you think?" she continued. 

"We asked our neighbour, and she didn't know what it was at all, so we thought it must be very unusual - she's a dog groomer, so she's as good as a vet you know."

"Let's just see what the sample shows us," I replied as I headed to the lab. 

I chuckled to myself as I wondered whether I would make a very good dog groomer.

I did have a go once, while a dog was under anaesthetic for a dental, but despite going for a traditional West Highland White Terrier style, he ended up looking more like Paul McCartney circa 1963. 

My five years at university certainly hasn't qualified me to be a dog groomer. 

Thankfully, I think most dog groomers also realise their limitations when it comes to giving vet advice. 

Having said that, it's not uncommon for me to see a patient because their groomer has recommended they see a vet after picking up on a lump or ear infection that the owner hadn't previously noticed.

Mrs Jones is not alone in seeking advice from another source before bringing her animal to the vet. 

Unfortunately, sometimes the pet pays the price for advice from an unqualified source.

A few years ago, I saw a Labrador that had eaten half-a-box of rat bait. 

Instead of phoning the vet clinic to ask advice, the owner spoke to one of the workers in the hardware store who sold the poison to him. 

"It'll be fine" the shop assistant told him. 

Several days later, the dog presented to the vet clinic collapsed. 

He'd had a massive bleed and he passed away before any treatment could take effect.

I've also seen an eight-week-old puppy die from tea tree oil toxicity because her owners followed some very bad advice.

Luckily for "Fluffy" he did just have a skin infection treatable with medicated shampoo and oral antibiotics. 

And it was relatively simple to diagnose, as Mrs Jones hadn't tried the entire range of shampoos and creams at her local pet supply store or applied the old favourite "Man and Beast" to her dog's skin before bringing him to see me.

When it comes to veterinary advice, you're best to ask your vet ... and if you'd like your dog to look like one of The Beatles, then I'm currently taking bookings.