Nick Ang profile picture

Nick Ang

What is your suspicion?

Imagine this situation: Your dog has been vomiting regularly for the last two days so you visit the animal clinic. There, the veterinarian asks you a series of questions:

  • Have you changed his diet recently?
  • Has he started behaving in unexpected ways recently?
  • What was the consistency and colour of his stools?

By this point a regular doctor may already begin to explain what she believes is the issue. She does this by correlating your answers to common problems and then narrowing down to the most plausible one, and you’d happily accept her diagnosis. Your dog is going to get the help he deserves!

But imagine this scenario with a slight change. This time, instead of giving you a diagnosis after posing a list of standard questions, the doctor asks you, “Do you have any suspicions about the cause of his vomitting?”

This question made you think about the trip that you recently made with your dog to the national park and the river that you swam across together when you were feeling particularly adventurous. The opposite bank had tall grass and you remember worrying about snakes and bugs, so you mention the trip to the doctor, which took her by surprise.

In this parallel universe, the doctor immediately changes the diagnosis she had in her mind to “possible worm infestation in gut,” and she prescribes a completely different treatment for the doggo.

Any good troubleshooter should always ask about suspected causes, because no list can realistically cover all possible scenarios. Diagnosing a problem wrongly leads to prescribing the wrong solution, which can turn out to be a combination of wasted time, money, and pain.


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