In sports, the phrase “deep bench” is used to reference having a solid group of players waiting to step in if the starters need a break or cannot play. Last night and this morning, that analogy came to mind for me. My ten-week-old Golden Retriever was bugging me while I was studying, and she stumbled onto a bag of prescription food that I had for my adult dog. She wanted some, so I gave her a handful, which she loved. However, that evening it was not nearly as lovely. She had diarrhea constantly throughout the night. Sometimes we made it outside soon enough and sometimes we didn’t, which meant giving her a bath and wiping down her crate over and over. I gave her a physical exam, checking her temperature, gum color, etc, and palpating her abdomen. All seemed fine except for the diarrhea. I thought it was likely that the sudden change in food was the culprit and formulated a plan.
My plan was to use Pepto-Bismol, fast her for the day, and then slowly start feeding her again with a bland diet of chicken and boiled rice. However, although I would recommend this plan in many situations, when I looked at her I was doubtful. What if this was the start of parvo, or could she have possibly eaten something dangerous that was causing her diarrhea? Her last fecal was negative, but what if she picked up some parasite? I knew the chances were slim, because she is vaccinated, on a deworming program, and closely supervised, but still she is one of my babies. So we got through the night and when eight o’clock in the morning rolled around, I started calling vet friends. On the third call, I reached one, and we talked through the case ultimately determining that my original plan would be perfect.
Although this was hardly a tough case, it emphasized the importance of having a bench of veterinarians willing to help me. We learn a lot in veterinary school, but one thing that can’t be taught is self-confidence. That comes with experience and practice. There will be critical cases in my future that will leave me stumped. When those cases arise, I need a bench I can go to–a bench of experienced veterinarians to reassure and help guide me.