How to Listen to Your Gut and Save Your Dog's Life

You know that gut-wrenching feeling. The feeling you get when something isn’t right. It feels like a rock sitting in your stomach, and I hate it!

How to Listen to Your Gut and Save Your Dog's Life

My dog needed surgery. Something wasn’t right for months. I kept sending out emails. Speaking up in vet appointments. Sometimes meds were changed. But nothing was working.

One day, it all exploded into my worst nightmare. My dog had 2 weekends of respiratory distress. Nothing is more scary than watching a dog trying to breathe.

And the worst part was that ER’s turned us away! What are your options when you can’t take your dog to an ER?

Luckily for me, my dog calmed down and was able to resume normal breathing. But considering he had 2 episodes of respiratory distress only a week apart meant we had a huge issue. Unless he had surgery, he was going to get worse. And what would happen the next time he had an issue?

I felt we had exhausted all our options. The surgeon who had helped us before was now ghosting us. Knowing that we needed help, I asked for an explanation about why he couldn’t help us. And the only reason I got was, “I fear your dog may need a tracheotomy if I proceed with surgery.”

There it was!  The inevitable that I had feared for months! My 4 year dog could need a permanent breathing tube if the surgeon failed at helping him. And my dog has already suffered enough.

Frustrated! Exhausted! And Scared! I had a heart-to-heart talk with our regular vet. She told me about another surgeon who performed miracles on impossible pet cases. This surgeon wasn’t scared of complicated health histories. In fact, it seemed she thrived on giving pets a second chance at health.

After one consultation, the new surgeon reassured us that she’d do everything possible to give my dog a new life. We discussed risks and benefits of surgery, as well as possible complications. But one thing was obvious. We didn’t have many options left since my dog’s health was declining if we did nothing.  

I had to trust my gut. The new surgeon seemed confident in her abilities. She also took the time to understand my pet’s story. She listened to our struggles, our successes, and our failures. And if the new surgeon could read every inch of my dog’s 7” tall chart, she deserved a medal for being so thorough!  

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous on surgery day. I kept smiling but I wanted to cry. I tried to avoid thinking about the “what if’s.” And I kept telling myself that my dog was a survivor. He had been a fighter all his life. He would get through this too. And he did!

My dog had collapsing nares on every inhalation. His airway was over 50% blocked. And because of his struggles to inhale, the increased pressure caused a polyp to form in his airway. It was a miracle my dog had even made it to his 4th birthday!

Although the surgery was risky, my dog bounced back quickly. He was skipping out of the vet office when I picked him up. No pity party for him! He was so happy to get a new chance in life, and he wasn’t going to waste a minute thinking about his pain.  

And as happy as I was to see him, I was relieved he didn’t need a tracheotomy. We had turned our hopeless situation into a joyous event! And this got me to thinking.

Why did the first surgeon fear my boy would need a tracheotomy? He was a surgeon I had used on my dogs before, and I knew he was a competent surgeon. But not all surgeons are the same.  

After I dissected the first surgeon’s email with a fine-toothed comb, I had my answer. The surgeon told me he feared my dog needed a tracheotomy because he was incapable of this type of surgery.

And when you’re in a desperate situation, you don’t always think so clearly. Despite the surgeon telling me he shouldn't do the surgery, I was thinking he was our only option. How stupid would that have been?

I call this the “Donut Effect.” We had been rolling along doing the same ol’ thing. We kept using the same doctors. Over time, we fell through the donut hole. And once you fall into the donut hole, it feels like a black hole that won’t escape. But if you’re lucky, you may find that one person to throw you a life vest and pull you to safety.

I am forever grateful that we found the second surgeon who threw us a life vest. She wasn’t scared of the "what could happen" and did the impossible. She has given my dog a second chance at life.

Seeing my dog happy reassures me that I made the right decision.  And trusting my gut proved to be the right decision after-all.  

Even if it feels there are no other options, remember to trust your gut.  Don't fall into the donut hole.  You are your dog’s advocate!  And don’t they deserve the best for their health?

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