Presentation: Pet is coughing or hacking
Client interpretation: Pet is choking/has something stuck in throat
Reality: This is extremely rare (espeically if the animal is eating, drinking, and breathing normally). In 13 years I think I have pulled approximately 2 things out of a dog's throat.
Client interpretation: Broken leg
Reality: Fracture is one of the least common causes of lameness, particularly without a known significant trauma.
Presentation: Adult or geriatric animal with significant illness or weight loss
Client interpretation: Might be worms
Reality: Relatively uncommon. I have seen about 3 cases of intestinal parasites causing significant illness and/or death. Always whipworms FYI. And one of those dogs also had renal failure so the worms may not have been a big factor in the end.
Presentation: Circular skin lesions
Client interpretation: Ringworm
Reality: Ringworm is not actually that common and there are several things that can cause circular skin lesions.
Presentation: Healthy dog not on heartworm prevention
Client interpretation: My dog does not have Heartworms/need a Heartworm test because
A) We have never had a problem with Heartworms/he's acting fine/he's eating normal
B) He doesn't go outside
C) He's not around other dogs
Reality: A) Dogs can be asymptomatic for a long time. When you know you have a problem, you really have a problem
B) Mosquitos can get in your house. Also your dog didn't arrive here in a bubble, so he must go outside at least a little
C) Heatworms are spread by mosquitoes. Not directly by other dogs.
Presentation: Mass on or under the skin
Client interpretation: It's not bothering him so it's not a problem
Reality. Maybe yes, maybe no. "Not bothering" the dog is not a good way to assess possible neoplasia.
Presentation: Unexplained swelling, abscess, or puncture wounds
Client interpretation: Bit by spider, snake, or wild animal
Reality: Maybe. Most of the time no one actually saw what happened. If it's a dog, and he has lesions on his face, head or neck he may have been bit or stung by sniffing around somewhere. If it 's a cat, he probably got in a fight with another cat. I think altercations with or attacks by wild mammals are rare. But, you never know, most of the time the only witness isn't talking.
Presentation: Swelling plus/minus draining tract between toes
Client interpretation: Something stuck in foot
Reality: Not that common. Only a few times have I actually removed something from a foot. May vary with your local geography. Also there may have been something there at one time, but is gone by the time you get to the vet and just an abscess or cyst is left.