There’s a famous quote that says: “Sometimes the most important lessons are the ones we end up learning the hard way.” Well, if you ask me, truer words have never been spoken! The advice I’m sharing with you today is a result of a vet visit gone wrong. My hope? By sharing this experience, I can help someone else avoid the horrible (yet, easily avoidable) mistake that I made!
I recently took my toy Poodle, Gigi, to the vet for her annual visit. While I was there, the vet tech uttered those dreaded words: “She’s almost due for her rabies shot!”
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about keeping my dogs protected. But, I’m also not a fan of over-vaccinating. And I firmly believe US vaccination guidelines need to change (but that’s a story for another day)!
When it comes to the Parvo/Distemper vaccine, once your pooch has gone through his first round of puppy vaccines and one-year boosters, I always suggest talking to your vet about a titers test over repeated booster shots. A titers test is a blood test that will check the antibodies in your dog’s body – to see if a booster is even necessary.
The rabies vaccine is mandatory by law in the United States. In some states, you may be able to work with your veterinarian to get a medical exemption. But we live in a state with no medical exemptions. So, every 3 years they’re forced to get a shot.
Our Experience With This Year’s Rabies Vaccine
After the vet tech explained it was almost time for Gigi to get her rabies vaccine, we scheduled an appointment. The easiest day and time for me to go was a Friday evening, right before the office closed. It was the easiest time to sneak away from work.
So, that Friday at 4 pm, we marched into the office and Gigi took that needle in her booty like a champ.
But, her chipper personality quickly changed.
When we got home, Gigi slept for a few hours, eventually tried to eat a little, and then she threw up. Okay … that can be a side effect. No reason to worry yet.
She slipped into a deep sleep for the rest of the evening. When she woke up in the morning, though, she threw up three times in a row. Then, I saw her face. It was blowing up like a balloon! Her normally pink eyes were starting to turn as red as a tomato. She was clearly having a severe reaction. My biggest worry? That it would spread to her throat and obstruct her airway.
I immediately called our vet. But – oh yeah – they’re closed on the weekend! So, my husband and I quickly drove down to the emergency vets office. We had never met her before and she has no clue who Gigi is.
Thankfully, 2 shots (Benadryl + a steroid) and about $350 later, her swelling started to go down. She’s fine now, but we learned a few important lessons that day:
Don’t Take Your Dog for Any Vaccines or Surgeries On a Friday
Many vet offices are closed on the weekend. So, if your dog has any sort of a reaction or issue that needs immediate attention then your only real option is to run down to your local emergency vet office.
While you’re there, expect to pay a whole lot more than you normally would! I’ve had to go the emergency vet a few times – when living in Pennsylvania, Texas, and now South Carolina. It’s always an expensive trip. This last time, we paid once when we first arrived (their emergency room fee) and then again as we were leaving (for the vet’s time and the shots).
Another thing about the emergency vet: You don’t have any relationship with them. While the vet certainly treated Gigi with patience and care, I’m a creature of habit and would have preferred to see MY vet. My vet knows Gigi’s history and I just feel more comfortable there. Perhaps you’re the same way with your vet!
Try to Avoid Late Evening Appointments
I get it – when you’re working at an office, sometimes evening appointments are the most convenient. It’s easier to sneak away. But, if you book vaccines or procedures late in the day and Fido winds up having a reaction when you get home, you probably won’t be able to reach your vet – because the office will more than likely be closed.
If Possible, Avoid The Day Before a Holiday & Holiday Weekends
Chances are, if a holiday falls on a Wednesday then your vet’s office will be closed that Wednesday. So, treat that day as a Friday! It’s the same with 3-day holiday weekends.
To put it simply: Try not to schedule vaccines or surgeries when your vet’s office is going to be closed the next day!
The Best Times To Schedule an Appointment
For vaccines: Try to schedule your appointment early in the workweek (Mon-Wednesday) and early in the day. Of course, you’ll want to spend a little time with your dog after their shots, so you can keep an eye on them. If you can’t work from home that day, or take a half-day, ask a family member or friend if they can watch your dog for a few hours while you’re gone.
For Surgeries: Most vets already schedule their surgeries in the morning so the staff can monitor them as they wake up from anesthesia. Many vets offices also schedule surgeries on specific days of the week. My advice: Try your best to avoid Fridays and long holiday weekends!