Things Pet Owners Do That Drive Veterinarians Crazy!
It’s a tough subject to tackle. After all, veterinarians do plenty of annoying things, too. But this particular post is all about you — well, not you, but the annoying yous among you. Not that most of you deserve this, but some of you just might! So without any further hedging, let me launch into the most annoying things pet owners do when they are at the vet:
Answering Your Cell Phone In The Middle Of A Visit
Need I say more? Is there anything more annoying and disrespectful than answering a phone call while your vet is delivering her state-of-your-pet’s-health address? OK, it might be worse if you dug out your phone to initiate a call midexam, but only by a smidge. They’re both just plain rude.
Bringing Young Children Along For Fun
I dearly love children (mine mostly, but yours can also be cool), but very young or badly behaved children are an unnecessary liability in a veterinary environment. It’s hard enough to keep pets safe — much less kids. So unless your children are old enough and/or chill enough to hang out in a vet setting, they should probably stay home.
One exception: If your pet has an emergency and you have no one to care for your kids, you are most definitely excused. A vet will understand. If you have a good relationship with your vet, call ahead and they may even assign an employee to keep tabs on your kids so you can concentrate on what’s wrong with your pet. It takes a village.
Let Your Dogs Run Amok
This is not the dog park. And, for the record, retractable leads should remain in the shortest, locked position for the duration of your visit. After watching an innocent human get taken down in the lobby by an overlong retractable line, I decided there should be a law against these in vet hospitals.
Carry Their Cat Without A Carrier
I’ve never been able to fathom why some owners insist upon bringing their cats to the vet hospital without carriers. Some will use harnesses, which won’t help them when faced with a truly motivated dog. And, honestly, I’d never blame a dog for attacking a cat in a veterinary hospital environment. After all, these cats are probably giving off cornered prey vibes that some dogs can’t ignore.
Cats are more comfortable in uncertain environments when they’re enclosed.
Deny, Deny, Deny
It drives vets crazy. Clients effectively employ vets to be their experts, then they put up roadblock after roadblock: No, my pet is not fat. No, my pet’s teeth are not rotting. No, he’s too old for surgery. No, her claws are not too long. It can be exasperating for a vet to deal with!
I can understand why you might (and should!) question your veterinarian about health care issues that are important to you, but why come to the vet if you’re unwilling to have an open dialogue about what your pet needs and doesn’t need?
Refuse To Pay
It happens more often than you’d think. Pet owners agree to hospitalization and procedures — and later refuse to pay. Sometimes they say that they forgot their checkbooks. Other times they claim to have misunderstood the payment policy, even though there’s a sign in almost every veterinary hospital in the United States that explains payment is expected when services are rendered. One client even cancelled her Amex payment after her vet saved her anemic cat’s life with a blood transfusion. Not cool.
Don’t Follow Through
There’s no shame in admitting that you can’t medicate your difficult cat or trim your unruly dog’s toenails. Veterinarians are pet owners, too. They absolutely understand why you might not be able to manage these not-so-simple tasks.
But you’ve got to let your vet know if you can’t, don’t, or won’t do what they say (and explain why). After all, vets have plenty of alternatives to offer. And there are few things more frustrating to a veterinarian than failing to treat a patient who could have been helped if only the vet were able to employ some ingenuity.
Want to give your veterinarian the best holiday gift ever? Resolve to be a more honest, open, conscientious, cat box-carrying, child care-finding, cell phone-shirking client.
Crappy people skills.
This is more about what vets don’t say- as in nothing. How about the veterinarian and their staff making good eye contact when any client comes to the office and making pet owners feel welcome. I have had many clients say they have felt un-important and not acknowledged at a veterinary clinic. Imagine the veterinarian introducing him or herself, saying your name, and your pet’s name. Unfortunately people skills are not one of those traits selected for at veterinary school- yes as a veterinarian you can be great with animals, have superior medical or surgical skills, but you still need to be able to talk to pet owners.
I Know So Many Medical Words. The newly graduated I know so much that I must speak in ‘medical term’ lingo is a veterinarian you may know. These veterinarians feel the need to impress you with all the big words that they know. Unfortunately this is very difficult to understand and a major source of miscommunication. You may be asking yourself after the veterinary visit: “What did the vet say?” To have pet owners comply with their suggestions, veterinarians need to be able to properly explain what is wrong with clients pets in ‘regular’ terms. For instance I suggest that vets do not use the term phytobezoar, when they could say the word hairball.
Too many recommendations.
So what does your pet really need? 13 different blood tests, heartworm screen, fecal flotation, urinalysis, X-rays, EKG, all justified as ‘wellness’ screening. If a pet is sick, most clients want vets to do the most important tests first in order to figure out the cause. Clients want veterinarians to start with some common sense and give a list of the most likely diagnoses. Ask your veterinarian exactly what they do for so called ‘wellness screening’ for their own pets. In my experience most veterinarians only do diagnostic tests on their own animals when they are sick. Should this really be different with their clients?
Home diets, Raw Food and those overpriced ‘All Natural’ Diets are a waste of time and can Harm your pet. Perhaps, but likely not. Millions of dogs and cats around the world are eating raw food and thriving…and ‘gasp’ the food is not balanced. Veterinarians and veterinary food companies still claim that dry, carbohydrate loaded kibble is ‘fine’, yet a growing body of evidence is showing how this is harming our pets. Diabetes is directly linked to these dry kibble diets, yet most veterinarians are still advising that you feed primarily these to your pets.
Realistic estimates. Veterinary care is expensive, some clinics far more than others. Staff salaries have gone up, equipment such as digital X-ray is pricy, and superior care costs. Fair enough. But pet owners routinely find themselves shocked at the reception desk when they go to pick up Fluffy from a dental, expecting a bill for $250.00 and getting one for $799. Prior to doing anything extra ensure that the veterinarian talks to you first, so you can at least give verbal consent. As well, it would sure help if veterinarians understand that many clients really don’t have the extra funds, so at times please give the less expensive option. For example most cat abscess don’t require surgery, yet many clients report that when they bring their cat to a clinic for an abscess, they are only given surgery as an option.