Speaking for Spot

book review

Speaking for Spot, by Dr Nancy Kay DVM is a great book about how to be a medical advocate for your dog and how to be a partner to your vet. I consider it to be a MUST READ for all dog owners.

Speaking for Spot by Dr Nancy Kay, DVM

book review by Pam Green, © 2009

Speaking for Spot by Dr Nancy Kay, DVM is a book that every person responsible for the welfare of a dog MUST read and MUST own. You will probably re-read it annually and consult it whenever you sense that your dog "ain't doing right". You will probably carry it with you to the vet's office, and she will be glad that you did so. I would rate this book SIX stars on a scale of zero to five.

The goal of this book is to enable you to be and active and informed partner with your vet towards your shared goal of keeping your dog healthy and enjoying high quality of life. You and your vet each have a unique role to play in your dog's health : it's truely a partnership process.

Dr Kay, a board certified internal medicine specialist, teaches you how to understand the common symptoms and diseases and how to ask your vet relevant questions and understand the answers. You will see which situations are emergencies or potentially life-threatening. Everything you need to know but may be afraid to ask is covered, from finding a good vet and clinic and establishing the right relationship, to your role in the office visit, standard questions, new medical technologies now available, the new vaccination guidelines, cancer (and why it is often cureable or treatable), getting a second opinion (and why this is often a very good idea), and -- the two most difficult topics -- financial issues and end of life issues. Appendix 1 goes through all the common symptoms and Appendix 2 goes through the common and not so common diseases and injuries.

The book is written in a very clear style and with a pleasing sense of humor. There are some delightful cartoons to illustrate some key points. I particularly like the one showing the dog and owner heading towards the oncology clinic, the human hanging back thinking chemo is horrible and the dog pulling foreward eagerly thinking "the cookie place !"

Because this book is published in 2009, it's about as up to date as a vet book can be (given that this is a field that continues to advance), and it shows a good appreciation and explanation of some recent advances in vet knowledge and technology. What I really like about the book is that there is nothing in it that can get you into trouble, ie nothing that misleads you.

Now if you are "a cat person" (cats only, not dogs), don't think this book is not for you. It really is for your cat too. The very same principles apply. To turn the book into "Talking for Tabby", most of the book would be the same. Appendix 1 would be pretty much the same. Only Appendix 2 would change somewhat, for while many ailments in dogs have their counterparts in cats, there are some dog ailments that don't occur in cats and some cat ailments that don't occur in dogs.

Many who have read this book say that it has enabled them to be a better medical advocate for themselves when dealing with their M.D. and the hairless primate medical system. The average MD is not nearly as skilled at communicating with client-patients as the average DVM is at communicating with clients. MDs should read this book to inspire them to be better communicators and thereby benefit their patients greatly -- and also avoid a lot of malpractice suits due to bad communications.

This is also a great book for all vets, though they should also read "The Art of Veterinary Practice" by Dr Myrna Miliani DVM. The two books complete and complement one another.


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site author Pam Green copyright 2003
created 8/27/09 revised 9/20/09
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