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Old 23.02.2011, 20:52
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Pet owners: heads up!

Hello everyone,

Many of us came to Switzerland with our pets and for those of you who came from the U.S. or other countries where there are good after-hour, emergency-care services for pets, you may be in for a big surprise with the quality of animal emergency services in the La Cote area.

A couple of weeks ago, we had to use the after-hours pet emergency services for our dog for the first time. The way it works here, we found out, is that you call your regular vetís number and you hear an emergency number to call for the urgent-care vet on duty. This vet may be in a town close by or one quite a distance away. Fortunately, for us the situation wasnít too serious, but it turns out the vast majority of vet offices donít have the equipment to handle serious cases. Also, after calling the vet on duty itís considered normal if you have to wait for him (or her) to open the office and let you in. There is nothing like a 24-hour animal hospital or emergency clinic in the La Cote area. If your animalís case is serious, the closest animal hospital is in Bern, which is two hours away and could mean your beloved pet dying!

Some good friends of ours told me that they actually had a terrible experience with one vet on-call in Bussigny (I think he is the only vet in that town). Their cat was in a serious condition and when they got to the vet office, which was a 10 minute ride from them, they still had to wait another 10 minutes for the vet to arrive and open the door! When the vet did arrive apparently he was on the phone in a relaxed conversation while friends pleaded to him to look at their cat. It turned out that their cat had passed away (though later their regular vet said there was probably little that could have been done for him). But when in shock they asked the on-call vet how that could have happened, he yelled at them to calm down! Apparently, he showed no sympathy for their loss and no professionalism at all.

So before your pet has an emergency, find out what kind or services would be available and who would be providing the treatment. Letís hope you donít have to go to Bern.
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Old 23.02.2011, 22:15
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Re: Pet owners: heads up!

I had to use the emergency service for my cats on a Sunday. We called a special emergency number and they told us which vet to go to. We went there and they were seen immediately. The only problem was the extra chfs we had to pay.
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Old 23.02.2011, 22:58
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Re: Pet owners: heads up!

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Many of us came to Switzerland with our pets and for those of you who came from the U.S. or other countries where there are good after-hour, emergency-care services for pets, you may be in for a big surprise with the quality of animal emergency services in the La Cote area.
Depends. I don't know where in the USA or those other countries you lived, but in the area of the USA I know, there are no after-hour emergency-care services for pets. Just none. Zilch. Nada.

With a lot of luck you may reach the vet at home, and with even more luck you may be able to talk him / her into opening the practice for your beloved pet. The nearest real animal hospital comparable to one in Switzerland, not just a one-vet practice that happens to boastfully call itself "Animal Hospital," but a real hospital with 24/7 service, is at least 100 miles away. Miles, not kilometers.

Exactly the same applies to dental emergencies. Unlike here, you can't call a number, get put through to the dentist on duty and get your treatment the same day. Instead you have to spend days or weeks calling all dentists according to the Yellow Pages until you go up the wall and eventually get admitted into the emergency room of the regional hospital because, meanwhile, your entire jaw bone is heavily infected. There they put you on antibiotics and tell you to find a dentist, which puts you back to square one. They do not even have the number of an emergency dentist at a hospital built for 1,800 patients!

And that's not out in the sticks of the Dakotas or in Alaska but in an, admittedly rather rural, area of Michigan.
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Old 23.02.2011, 23:45
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Re: Pet owners: heads up!

Switzerland truly is a rural backwater.....
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Old 24.02.2011, 00:04
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Re: Pet owners: heads up!

I'm very sorry to hear that you had a bad experience, and please, pass along my sympathies to your friends.

I know how frustrating it is to figure out how the system works, especially when you are new to Switzerland, perhaps with a language barrier, and under tremendous stress when a beloved pet is seriously ill.

But, at least in this area, I have to say that the after hours system works very well as long as one understands how to access it.

For what it's worth, some things I learned the hard way:

First, it's a good idea to have a discussion with your primary vet about the 'what ifs' before an emergency crops up. Make sure you know exactly who to call, have your vet walk you through the procedure. Write all that info down, program those numbers into your phone, program driving directions into your GPS - because when your pet has collapsed you may not be thinking that clearly.

If you are not comfortable in the local language, at least make sure you know the French/German/Italian phrases for 'This is an emergency'. In German, I have often started those midnight phone calls with 'Drigende Notfall'. If your pet has a chronic condition that might require after hours emergency care, make sure you can talk through the basics around that condition in the local language - at least the name of the condition, current symptoms, and any meds your pet routinely takes or other background. Anytime your pet has a test done, ask your vet for a copy of the results, and keep those on file - if you have an emergency, that could be valuable information for the ER vet.

(I learned 'Hundisch' long before I got a handle on German. )

Don't be afraid to push to be seen by the on-call vet. It can be difficult getting past the gatekeepers, I know - especially as this is a country where weekends are considered sacred and it seems like emergencies must be planned weeks in advance. But you know your pet best - we owners have that little voice in the back of our heads that is rarely wrong. If your gut instinct says this is an emergency, don't let anyone fob you off. Do not be rude, try not to sound panicked - be polite but firm. 'Drigende Notfall'. If the on-call group cover system is like the one here, your call gets routed to an answering service, who then contacts the on-call vet. Remember that the person at the answering service is just a telephone operator, not a vet or in anyway knowledgeable about veterinary medicine - so do not let that person put you off. Insist on speaking to the vet - he/she will go over the symptoms and help you decide what the best course of action is.

I have a primary vet who is a typical small practice - equipped to deal with 95% of the normal things I need but not set up for that 5% into which, Murphy's law, many emergencies fall. He is part of a 24 hour on-call rotation among area vets, but in a real emergency I call the Spezialistenklinik in HŁnenberg ZG ( http://www.spezialistenklinik.ch/ ) or the Tierspital in ZŁrich (http://www.kltmed.uzh.ch/index.html ), both of which are set up for ICU care and specialist diagnostics, straight away rather than going through the cover group. I have established a relationship with both clinics, both have our records on file, just in case. And both will report back to my vet. If you are close enough to one of the big clinics, I'd recommend getting to know them before an emergency hits.

I hope none of your pets ever need emergency care - but it is best to be prepared, just in case.

---

As an aside: Our training school has invited one of the local vets to give a first aid/what to do in an emergency lecture - every pet owner should know the basics. If you are involved in a training school or club, you might ask if something similar might be possible.
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Old 24.02.2011, 09:49
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Re: Pet owners: heads up!

Sorry to hear about your experience. It seems that some people forget that pets are just not animals, but too many of us, true family members as important as a child.

We have been lucky to always have had good vets, both in America and here.

Our vet, located in Dielsdorf, even gives her home number to call in the event of emergencies. That is the positive side - she is always caring and available. But that comes at a price. A recent tooth extraction and kidney analysis for our cat (over a two day period) totalled 1100 CHF.

At any rate, for anyone living in or around the Dielsdorf area, I would still recommend her....

http://www.tierarzt-dielsdorf.ch/

Unfortunately, I am not sure if she speaks English, as we have always communicated with her in Swiss German.
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Old 24.02.2011, 14:50
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Re: Pet owners: heads up!

My experience with our 12 week old pooper:

Call vet, meet at surgery 10 mins later. Doggy seen to. Job done.

http://www.kleintieraerzte.ch
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Old 24.02.2011, 16:02
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Re: Pet owners: heads up!

If you are in the La Cote region, I was told there is a 24hr vet in Divonne. But I don't know which one...
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Old 24.02.2011, 16:13
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Re: Pet owners: heads up!

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Sorry to hear about your experience. It seems that some people forget that pets are just not animals, but too many of us, true family members as important as a child.

We have been lucky to always have had good vets, both in America and here.

Our vet, located in Dielsdorf, even gives her home number to call in the event of emergencies. That is the positive side - she is always caring and available. But that comes at a price. A recent tooth extraction and kidney analysis for our cat (over a two day period) totalled 1100 CHF.

At any rate, for anyone living in or around the Dielsdorf area, I would still recommend her....

http://www.tierarzt-dielsdorf.ch/

Unfortunately, I am not sure if she speaks English, as we have always communicated with her in Swiss German.
Ok.. I can't let this one pass... 'It seems that some people forget that pets are just not animals' Do you have a pet that isn't an animal? Where did you get this pet from?..Area 51?

'..true family members as important as a child.' Come off it! it's statements like this that indicate borderline personality disorder, are you really going to equate the life of a human child to that of a moggie?

And lastly I guess you mean kidney Dialysis not 'analysis', I had no idea they gave animals dialysis it seems cruel and unusual to chain an animal up to a renal dialysis unit for a weekend to briefly prolong the poor things existence, I'd ask for the Kcl injection in that case; not to mention that half the human renal disease patients in the world aren't being dialyzed
at all due to lack of machines, it seems like a travesty that some individuals have the audacity to dialyze an animal instead of a 3rd world child.

'Come on the reds!'
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Old 24.02.2011, 16:39
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Re: Pet owners: heads up!

Johnny, I can't speak for Doktor B, but...

We do monthly blood screenings with one of my dogs - including analysing the kidney values. This is critical information to track the progress of kidney disease - and hopefully take steps to slow down the progression. This blood testing and analysis is standard practice for many conditions, perhaps this may be what he was referring to.

As for your other comments: A pet owner has a duty - both morally and indeed in law (TschG, TschV) to provide the animals we have taken into our lives with all necessary medical care. Only an owner, guided by his or her veterinarian, can decide what measures are appropriate for an individual animal - an outsider is in no position to judge.

Let's just leave it there.
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Old 24.02.2011, 16:51
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Re: Pet owners: heads up!

I am really sorry for what your friends had to go through but I think that could happen basically anywhere in the world.
We have a fantastic vet who when our kittycat had to be put to sleep was the sweetest and most understanding person ever, he gave us all the privacy and time we needed to say our goodbyes and let us stay with him while he went over the rainbow bridge...this was done in a separate and warm room conditioned specially for those awful times...they managed things so well!
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Old 24.02.2011, 17:43
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Re: Pet owners: heads up!

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Sorry to hear about your experience. It seems that some people forget that pets are just not animals, but too many of us, true family members as important as a child.

We have been lucky to always have had good vets, both in America and here.

Our vet, located in Dielsdorf, even gives her home number to call in the event of emergencies. That is the positive side - she is always caring and available. But that comes at a price. A recent tooth extraction and kidney analysis for our cat (over a two day period) totalled 1100 CHF.

At any rate, for anyone living in or around the Dielsdorf area, I would still recommend her....

http://www.tierarzt-dielsdorf.ch/

Unfortunately, I am not sure if she speaks English, as we have always communicated with her in Swiss German.
You are right. Pets are not just animals. We have three dogs and a parrot and they mean the world to us, although my sons might just top the pecking order.

I was, however, put out by the OP's indignant attitude at having to wait 10 minutes for the vet. Believe me, as a human being at the local hospital I would probably have to wait longer for a doctor after hours. Why does the OP think that our pets deserve better treatment than humans? Yes, pets do mean the world to us, but for pete's sake, we also have to maintain some sense of proportion.
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Old 24.02.2011, 21:51
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Re: Pet owners: heads up!

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are you really going to equate the life of a human child to that of a moggie?
Hmmmm... have met a few humans that don't equate to my pet. They tend to have borderline personality disorders.

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'Come on the reds!'


Nah... not even worth the effort to move the mouse & click the button.
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Old 24.02.2011, 23:32
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Re: Pet owners: heads up!

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It seems that some people forget that pets are just not animals, but too many of us, true family members as important as a child.
We had neighbours once with two cats. They were in the building before us, but we didn't know when we moved in that the only way the cats could get to the road was through our terrace. They would wander into our apartment (and two of us are allergic to cat hair) or stop of in our potted plants and wreak havoc. This was before we had dogs.... Anyway, the relationship with our neighbours quickly turned sour. At one point the neighbour asked how we would like it if our kids were locked in the apartment? I said that wouldn't happen, they have a key.

A few years later these people adopted a child. I think the cats disappeared shortly after.
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