Many of the phone consults I perform as a — now retired — veterinarian who no longer diagnoses or prescribes, center around helping pet owners make the most of their pet’s condition or circumstances.

The purpose of a phone consultation is not to diagnose or treat a patient, but to give a fresh look on a complicated case.

Some veterinarians fear the consultant will “steal” patients from the primary care veterinarian. The opposite is actually the truth! In many cases a second opinion will suggest a new line of diagnostic testing that will result in even better patient care.

Most times, the consultant is not local to the pet, the pet returns to the primary veterinarian for more testing and final treatment. I have found this numerous times with my phone consultation clients – after a review of the records, I suggest different tests for the primary veterinarian to perform. Then primary veterinarian is able to properly or fully diagnose the case.

What’s important to realize is that nowhere is either the pet owner or the second opinion provider saying that the primary provider is wrong, uninformed, or making mistakes; instead, it often takes a fresh set of eyes to look at a case.

We’ve all had this happen to us – been stuck on a problem and not know the solution. Sometimes it’s as simple as discussing the problem with a colleague not involved; this colleague is able to look from the outside see a broader view and make the suggestion to solve the problem. It’s just how human beings work.

A phone consultation can be as simple as diet recommendations for health and longevity. Likewise, a phone consultation can include specific dietary recommendations for specific health concerns. Some phone consultations clarify methods of detoxification or herbal options to address health concerns.

The team approach to healthcare works in the human field – it works in the animal field as well. Consider world-famous healthcare institutions like the Mayo Clinic; a team of doctors working to help be hard to diagnose patient return to the road of health. The same thing as possible for our pets.

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