Written by Guardian Angel Jan Torrez and Kirk, the Epi English Setter


Caring for an Epi pup requires a good relationship with your vet. This is a two way street and a relationship that requires mutual respect.

Remember, though, you are paying for your veterinarian's services.

One thing I try to remember is that my Epi does not have a voice, so I have
to speak for him.  What I have found, is that it is how you speak that can mean the difference between getting what you want and need and alienating your vet.

Have you ever wondered just HOW to talk to your vet about your
cares/concerns/worries and get them to listen to you? Conversely, one of the largest concerns of the vets I spoke to was that pet owners listen to them and follow the treatment plans laid out for them. They all also said that they have immense respect for those clients whose care for their pups is
obvious. Each of them said a well cared dog for is a pleasure to treat.

Partnering is what we all need to strive for, to achieve a good relationship
with you, the owner, and your veterinarian. Your Epi pup will benefit from this effort. Remember, you both have the same goals, your vet wants your pup to be as well as he or she possibly can be, as do you.

Most of us, myself included, when faced with caring for an Epi, were
confused, worried and concerned about our pup, wanting the best care for them, yet not knowing what to ask, where to turn for advice, finding that the costs for diagnostics and testing can be staggering, where to buy the AED's, how and where to get Valium, etc. These are all part of caring for an Epi.

I talked to four veterinarians in informal "interviews," about this subject,
what you will read is a compilation of their thoughts.

A common thread in caring for an Epi is compliance.

This means following treatment protocol, giving medicines, in correct doses
and giving meds on schedule, getting regular drug level tests, bile acids, etc. Many pet owners, when they leave their vet's office, don't follow the treatment plan laid out by their vets. This, for an ill pet, can cause a setback in recovery, in an Epi, it can cost the pet their life.

Next, was honesty and clear and concise record keeping/medical history. One
subject that came up over and over again was the frustration a veterinarian feels when a patient presents with a specific problem and the owner is vague about the onset of the symptoms/disease. It could be because you simply don't know, or it could be because you are upset due to the condition of your pup, when you have an Epi, good record keeping is imperative, keep a seizure log, jot down the things out of the ordinary that occur, take it with you when you have an appointment. Diet, exercise levels, family history and more all play a part in the total picture you present to your vet.

Anti Epileptic Drugs are regulated by the government. Every prescription a
vet writes for a controlled substance is monitored by the DEA. Some states watch veterinarians' prescription writing very closely. Don't put your vet
jeopardy of losing his/her license by not documenting your use of controlled substance prescription medicines.

When your pup has a seizure, make sure that your vet knows of every seizure,
so that it may be charted into your pup's medical record. Make it easy for the office staff, fax, mail or hand carry a copy of the seizure log so that this may be added to your pup's chart.

What I do is jot down the duration/number of seizures while they are
happening, when it is all over, I tally up how much Valium was used, then make a permanent entry into our seizure log. I then fax a copy that is signed and dated to my vet so it may be inserted in my pup's chart. This can serve as documentation for both you and for your vet and since it is not necessary for your vet to see your pup after every seizure, it serves as a way to make certain that your pup's chart is kept up to date.

When you want to discuss a particular treatment protocol, be honest and be
prepared. For example, if you want to use the Valium Protocol, take the published works of Dr. Thomas/Dr. Podell with you. Medical professionals appreciate published articles that have research to back them up. If your vet suggests some new treatment, discuss it with them and get their
behind it.

Communication is the key to understanding and mutual respect.

When I first found the Guardian Angels, I discussed the Valium Protocol with
my vet. I took him the stack of published articles on the subject and asked him to read it over. I offered to pay for an office visit, to afford him the time to sit down and read the information, as I felt it was that important. He didn't charge me to go over the protocol and he later thanked me for the information and he willingly prescribed the Valium that my Epi needed.

I have learned that most practicing veterinarians are not experts in caring
for an Epileptic. The vets I have come in contact with, for the most part, are humble and very dedicated men and women. They realize their limitations and will refer you to a specialist when they feel the need to do so, has arisen. When you look at the practice of most non specializing vets, you will find a variety of ailments that they see every day, most will have only a handful of Epileptic patients. Most vets will welcome the information you can provide on treatments for an Epi.

Ask questions: All four vets said the same thing. If you have a question or
concern, ask a question if you don't understand a treatment plan, medicine dosing, testing/results. If you don't understand medical measurements, ask them to explain; yes, they are busy, but they want you to be an informed owner.

Caring for an Epi can be an expensive proposition. If finances are a
concern, let them know that, too.

All four of the vets I spoke to were in agreement that one of the most
frustrating aspects of their practices was putting down a pup with a medical problem that was treatable and the family could not or would not bear the expense of treating their pet.

All said that they would allow a family to make payments (though their
office policy says they won't) for a client that has unexpected large expenses, but most clients are either embarrassed or simply won't ask. Be honest about your situation, there might be an alternative to the situation, such as your buying the medicines you need directly from a veterinary supply company. There might be a charge for writing the prescription, but in the long run, it will save you money. If you want your vet to call in a prescription to a particular company, give them the phone number, make it easy for them to say yes. Don't be afraid to ask why if your vet says no to the prescription. Another thing I have learned, is to speak to the vet directly, don't rely on his or her staff to pass on a message.

When I asked my vet to send the processed and spun blood samples to Jean
Dodds, DVM, we had a discussion about my reasoning for wanting this done. I offered to pay for his staff's time to draw and spin the blood and for the supplies needed to package it. My point, to him, was that I was not doing it merely because Hemopet's prices were so much cheaper than the lab he used, I used the very logical and real argument that Dr. Dodds is a specialist in the field of Hypothyroidism. Dr. Dodds also offers a more personalized interpretation of the test results, his lab did not do that. Just based on that argument, he agreed with me and he appreciated the logic, in that Dr. Dodds is a respected researcher in her field.

If your pup is doing well, make and keep regular appointments for bloodwork,
diagnostics and a wellness checkup.

If you don't like your vet, (face it, this might really happen), if you
can't see eye to eye, if you feel that your relationship is not a good one with either the staff or the vet, talk it over with your vet and if you can't resolve the situation, change practices. No one will benefit from a poor patient/client relationship.

Finally, if you appreciate your vet, their staff, tell them so. If you have
to make a late night call to them, make it clear to them that you appreciate the fact that they are available to you, say, on a Sunday night at 11 p.m. I always say "thank you for taking the time to speak to me,"  then, even if you break down, you have said thank you for their time in speaking to you. A little kindness can go a very long way.

Contrary to popular belief, a veterinarian in practice today, is not making
a fortune. They have incredible expenses, both in office and staff, equipment, research, insurance, utilities, etc.

I do hope this has helped you, I thoroughly enjoyed speaking to the caring
practitioners about this subject. They were most gracious and willing to share their thoughts and the common thread throughout my research was that your vet wants the same thing as you do, for your pup to have the best quality of life that is possible for them.