Don’t Feel Guilty About Getting a Second Vet’s Opinion

By on January 29, 2017

When a human is diagnosed with an illness or medical condition, getting a second opinion is often a natural behavior. It never hurts to get a second opinion, says Dr. Christopher Byers of Critical Care DVM in Omaha. Veterinarians are human, and we can all make mistakes or be presented with challenging patients, he adds. There is nothing lost by visiting another veterinarian just to make sure your family veterinarian’s opinion is correct, and he would argue seeking a second opinion with a board-certified veterinary specialist can be invaluable.

Below is an explanation of the nature of second opinions and how veterinarians may differ in approach and diagnosis from Dr. Byers.

Why are doctors’ opinions different?

Factors that may affect any doctor’s opinion are technology available to that doctor, school of thought, where s/he was trained, individual method of treatment and experience in dealing with a particular diagnosis. You should feel confident you have chosen the most appropriate diagnostic and/or treatment plan for your fur baby’s particular health concern.

Do you need a second opinion?

If you don’t understand something your family veterinarian explains to you about your pet’s health condition, you should ask him/her to review the information again. Your pet’s primary care doctor will be happy to explain things. However if you’re dissatisfied with the information and would like to consider a different course of treatment, you should ask for a referral to an appropriate board-certified veterinary specialist for a second opinion.

Dr. Christopher Byers

Dr. Christopher Byers

Can anyone else ask for a second opinion?

Obviously you can request a referral to a board-certified veterinary specialist for a secondary opinion. Your family veterinarian can also recommend you seek a second opinion with a veterinary specialist too! And if this happens, you should really heed that recommendation if possible. By recommending you seek a second opinion with a board-certified veterinarian specialist, your family veterinarian is truly demonstrating her/his concern for your pet’s best well-being. S/he is requesting that you allow him/her to partner with a board-certified specialist in the best interest of your fur baby!

Will my family veterinarian be upset if I ask for a second opinion?

Most primary care veterinarians welcome the opportunity to partner with a board-certified veterinary specialist. A good veterinarian understands your right to be well informed and should support a second opinion with a veterinary specialist. You should obtain a copy of your pet’s medical records to share with the board-certified veterinary specialist that you have chosen (or your family veterinarian has recommended) for the second opinion.


The take-away message…

Seeking a second opinions is a way to learn more about your pet’s diagnosis and choices for treatment. As a pet parent, you have the right to seek a second opinion about your pet’s diagnosis. Some veterinarians are more conservative while others tend to be more aggressive, and several factors influence a doctor’s recommendations. Being adequately informed is absolutely critical in selecting the best choice of diagnostic testing and/or treatment for your fur baby.

To find a board-certified veterinary internal medicine specialist, please visit the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine.


Thanks, as always, to Dr. Byers for his insight and direction. To read more from him and other veterinarians, visit our Veterinarians page.

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