The Benefits of a Specialist

Posted on June 28, 2022

by Dr. Terri Argotsinger

Posted June 28, 2022

As a general practice veterinary clinic, we get to see a lot of strange cases coming in.  And sometimes, the cases get beyond what we are capable of diagnosing or treating.  Thankfully, in these instances, we have a wonderful network of referral options, including Iowa State University in Ames, BluePearl and Iowa Veterinary Specialties in Des Moines, and even options in Kansas City, Omaha, and the Twin Cities.  There are some amazing and dedicated veterinarians that have elected to specialize in various disciplines such as ophthalmology (eyes), neurology (nerves, brain), cardiology (heart), etc.   

Below is my own experience with needing a specialist for my cat!  But thanks to her wonderful help, my cat is back to normal! 

Orville (Redenbacher) is my 2-year-old trouble-making cat.  We always joke that he isn’t the smartest of cats but makes it up by being such a happy boy!  So, it was definitely concerning when he started being really quiet and not eating.  I took him into our clinic for an exam and ran some routine blood work and x-rays.  Everything was normal so I figured I’d give it a few days.  But then the little guy kept getting worse and I started to get really worried.  Another exam and more blood work still didn’t show anything concerning.  We gave him some fluids for hydration and a medication to encourage him to eat.  And he continued to get worse.  And then, the very next day, I noticed a weird cloudiness in his eyes.   

What we found is that poor little Orville had inflammation in the front of his eyes (also known as anterior uveitis).  Uveitis can be caused by a LOT of things, so I started running tests to look for causes.  We tested for toxoplasmosis, feline infectious peritonitis, fungal infections, certain bacterial infections, and more.  It all came up normal.  I was at my wit’s end and my little guy was getting worse instead of better!  So, it was time to seek a specialist.   

Orville and I went up to see the ophthalmology team at Iowa State University in Ames.  They were amazing!  Orville went through a bunch of additional testing, and they thankfully didn’t find anything scary going on.  They then helped me develop a treatment plan to reduce the inflammation and get him feeling better.  And although it took almost 4 months of medications to get him back to normal, he’s been a happy and healthy boy ever since!  Although still not the brightest bulb in the bunch… 

As much as I would like to believe I know everything and can fix every patient that comes in the door, sometimes we need to get a specialized veterinarian on board.  They have been through so much additional training and education; their experience is invaluable in some of the stranger cases that come in. They also often have resources and/or equipment we just do not have access to as general veterinary practitioners.

So, if you ever bring in a patient and we recommend referral to a specialty clinic, it’s not because we don’t want to see you or are too busy.  We just want the best for your pet and sometimes a little specialized help is exactly what is needed. 

By Dr. Terri Argotsinger

Dr. Terri graduated from Iowa State University's college of veterinary medicine in 2008 and has been living/practicing in the Des Moines area for the last 13 years. She's been a vet at Ankeny Animal & Avian Clinic since 2017. She has three orange cats at home that love to keep her busy!
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