Have you ever just wanted a second opinion, either about your own health or the health care of your pets? Books and the internet are great for general information, background, and education but usually don’t address the specific situation going on in the owner’s specific dog or cat.

This is where phone consultations with a doctor can play a role. Sometimes it takes a second set of eyes to look at a case and see it from a different angle. I will present you with three examples.

Maddi was an 8 year old female German shepherd dog whose owner was a very well-researched woman. When I first “met” Maddi, she wasn’t really having problems, other than she was always panting. Because Maddi already had a great local veterinarian (a MUST for virtual health consults) our goal was to work with her veterinarian to keep Maddi healthy for as long as possible and hopefully avoid future health issues.

Maddi had a primary care veterinarian as well as an acupuncturist. My role — through the phone consult — was to be an outside set of eyes, suggesting dietary changes with the seasons or with little health issues. Panting was often Maddi’s “sign” that we needed to change something in her diet. It was a great team approach to health care. Now, as Maddi ages, my suggestions relate, still, to food, additionally herbal remedies; her primary care veterinarian manages diagnostics, treatment and physical health.

Angel was a petite female domestic shorthair cat. Her owner spent months trying to convert her cats from eating dry food to eating balanced home prepared foods. In reviewing Angel’s records, she had suspiciously high blood glucose numbers. Again, partnership with Angel’s regular veterinarian was key. I asked Angel’s mom to return to her regular veterinarian and have more diagnostic tests performed.

Angel was diagnosed as diabetic. I continue to consult on Angel’s health, working hand-in-hand with her local veterinarian and making recommendations for ideal diet for best health.Another example of great teamwork between the pet, owner, and different veterinarians with different skills and training.

Rascal was a 12 year old male neutered chihuahua with a chronic cough. He had initially been diagnosed with heart failure but very few diagnostics had actually been performed. His owner was looking for an alternative opinion and called me. My suggestion was to return to her veterinarian, and ask for a chest x-ray and — if possible— have his blood pressure measured.

The chest x-ray ended up providing the diagnostic information that was needed. It turned out that little Rascal had a fungal infection in his lungs. Several months with rotating herbal treatments helped to treat his cough. As he aged, Rascal did ultimately develop heart disease; but it was properly diagnosed with a follow-up chest x-ray, blood pressure measurement, and quality health care approach from an integrative veterinarian.

Phone consultations are great adjuncts to — and never replacements of — the existing healthcare System. The health coach augments the already great care provided by the primary veterinarian rather than diminishing that veterinarian’s value. An open mind — and integrated team approach — always provides for the best care for the animal.

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