20 Ways to Drive Your Vet Crazy!

annoying owner

I recently asked veterinary surgeons from across the globe on an online forum to tell me their top three pet hates (pardon the pun) about veterinary clients and the behaviours that drive them crazy. As vets we deal with people from all walks of life, some who love their pets more than anything and some who unfortunately don’t. We also have a lot of frustration and stress in this job directly related to dealing with clients, and trying to keep them happy despite often very unrealistic demands and expectations. Although most clients are lovely and a pleasure to deal with, many vets will tell you that it only takes a few frustrating clients in your working week to make you wonder why you entered the profession in the first place! So here’s some of the common examples of ways to sap us of all our energy and good will. Please take note, and appreciate the tiring and often despairing position from the other side of the consult table.

Here are the top 20 ways to drive your vet crazy:

  1. Call the clinic 5 minutes to closing time on a Friday evening for your very sick pet that’s been vomiting, not eating, trembling and had explosive diarrhoea for three days already, but NOW it’s an emergency and at least two staff will have to stay behind on their own time to see you when you flip out about going to the out of hours clinic. Sure, it’s not like we have anything to do with our weekend anyway.
  2. Disagree with an entire list of possible diagnoses and tell the vet your breeder/groomer/dog walker/cousin/mate down the pub/grandmother’s 1st cousin/medium/water diviner told you that your pet was suffering from this condition and how it should be treated.
  3. On a similar theme, just utter the joyful phrase: “But I read on Google…..”
  4. Decline all diagnostic tests or suitable treatments for your precious pedigree animal’s multiple congenital health problems due to financial constraints (even though you spend hundreds of pounds to purchase him in the first place when there’s so many animals in rehoming centres), but recoil in horror when we suggest neutering because you want to use him for breeding. “He’s got papers” is not justification for breeding.
  5. Seek a professional opinion, completely ignore it, then complain when your pet’s condition doesn’t improve or gets worse. Complain that you’re being ripped off now that further tests or more expensive treatment is needed.
  6. Ask for free treatment “because he’s just a stray”. A stray cat that has been living, eating, sleeping in your home for the past 10 years is your pet, not a stray.
  7. Similarly, “She’s a rescue” doesn’t automatically qualify you for free treatment, nor does it excuse you neglecting your animal’s medical needs. If your animal doesn’t have access to timely and appropriate veterinary treatment, it hasn’t been rescued no matter how bad its conditions were before it entered your ‘care’.
  8. Tell us your rescued animal is fear aggressive or nervous because it was abused and beaten, despite not knowing anything about its history. In most cases animals are fearful because they haven’t been socialised, not because they’ve been beaten. A fear of the broom doesn’t necessarily mean your animal was beaten with a broom, but it makes for a lovely rescue story and happy ending. Well done you!
  9. ”If you loved animals you would do it for free”. If vets worked for free every time they were asked or expected to, there would be no vet clinic (bankruptcy), no way to get out of our massive student debt and we wouldn’t be able to put food on our tables. We are not trying to rip you off, just make a living doing a job we (mostly) love, helping animals.
  10. Asking us to alter or omit something from the clinical record so that your insurance will pay out is INSURANCE FRAUD. I’m not willing to lose my license to practice to save you £200 Madam, no can do!
  11. “He’s just really old” isn’t actually a valid diagnosis or reason your pet hasn’t seen a vet in 5 years when he’s now emaciated, hyperthyroid, in renal failure, his teeth are rotting out of his head and he hasn’t eaten or drank in 5 days. Yes we will now gladly put him to sleep because he is suffering. He has been suffering for quite some time. Age isn’t an excuse to allow that happen.
  12. Bring your cat into the clinic in your arms without a carrier! Sure, you might think your cat is well trained, that you can handle her and she would never run away from you as she adores you so much and just loves to be out and about. But try say that when a boisterous or aggressive dog lunges at her. Best case scenario she will scratch you to shreds trying to scrabble out of your arms, worst case scenario she shoots out the open clinic door across the road into oncoming traffic and is run over. I’ve seen it happen! Just trust us on this one, buy a carrier and use it.
  13. Tell us after your animal bites us that “Yeah, he’s done that before”. Or say: “But it’s your job to get bitten” when you fail to control your badly trained, out of control, aggressive dog.
  14. Obtain an exotic or specialist pet without doing even the most basic research into its care and then bring it to the vet when it is beyond saving. Blame the vet for failing to save said patient. Sigh.
  15. Dismiss the mere idea of using actual medicine to prevent fleas, worms and ticks because you use coconut oil/garlic/crystals/motor oil/the breath of babies or some other nonsense. The fact your dog has a crystal collar and doesn’t have fleas currently doesn’t mean crystals are an effective flea preventative. That’s not how science works I’m afraid.
  16. Be insanely rude and obnoxious to the support staff, nurses and receptionists but nice as pie when you eventually get to talk to the vet. Our staff are all there to help you and your pet, and the vets are often very busy. Don’t throw a tantrum or act like an A-hole when you can’t talk to the vet immediately. You’ll become ‘that client’ everyone groans about when you call the clinic. And they do tell us how rude you were to them.
  17. Freaking out that we extracted 9 rotten teeth during your pet’s dental or haggling and complaining about the astronomical cost of the procedure we had to perform on your animal that we told you it needed every year for the past three years at its annual health check, but you decided to forget about each time you walked out the door. Your fault it’s that expensive and invasive now, not ours.
  18. “He’s not in pain, he’s still eating and never cries”. Animals cope with pain. If he’s lame, it hurts. If he can barely get up in the morning due to arthritis, he’s in pain. Food is maybe the last thing he actually enjoys in life. Listen to us when we tell you your animal is in pain. We did a lot of training to recognise it. Quality of life and being pain free is important in your pet’s final years.
  19. “I’m just going to let her pass away peacefully at home”. Death is often not as peaceful as the movies make out. Your pet is struggling to breathe, can’t lift its head, hasn’t eaten in days, is dehydrated and weak, is soiling itself with urine and faeces?…..the list goes on, and still you don’t want to consider euthanasia? Offer it that one last kindness and dignity in death rather than suffering a slow, lingering passing at home, please. We can do home visits and make it very stress free, we promise.
  20. Offer up your infinite wisdom to another client in the waiting room, disagreeing with the vet’s treatment and claiming yourself to be an expert on this breed because you happen to have kept them for 20 years.

 

 

 

A Fish Out of Water! Koi Carp Tumour Removal.

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A 5 year old Koi Carp presented to clinic when the owner noticed an unusual pea sized growth that appeared on the inside of her lower lip just inside the mouth. So far it hadn’t caused any issues with feeding for example but the worry was that it would grow and impede eating or even be a malignant or cancerous growth of some type. The decision was made to perform surgery to remove the tumour under general anaesthetic.

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Now you’re probably thinking, how do you anaesthetise a fish?! Well let me tell you……

 

The owner brought the fish in along with several bags of her own pond water to use during the procedure, so as to reduce stress. If we used tap water it may have a different pH or temperature and added chemicals which could harm or stress the fish. This is the last thing we want in an anesthetised patient so it is far safer and less stressful to use the water from the fishes own pond or aquarium. A series of three containers were used as anaesthetic induction and recovery tanks, with an air pump oxygenating the water in each through an air stone to drive bubbles through the water. In anaesthetising fish, the drugs we use have to be infused into the water and are absorbed by the fishes gills, which are the equivalent of our lungs. Underneath the operculum or large scale covering the gills lies a series of delicate gill filaments packed with capillary blood vessels. Oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged through these tiny blood vessels from the surrounding water, just as we take in air to our lung tissue for gas exchange. Any drug we administer in the water also gets absorbed through the gills and enters the bloodstream. In this case I added a liquid drug called Phenoxyethanol to the water in the first tank of pond water in gradual increments until the fish started to become anaesthetised. It is critical that we control the plane or depth of anaesthesia in any of our surgical patients, and fish are no different.

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When a fish is entering an anaesthetised state, initially the respiratory rate increases and we see gasping and fast opening and closing of the gills. Next the fish starts to lose it’s balance and floats on it’s side. At this point the respiratory rate slows down and the gills move less frequently. Gradually the fish becomes less and less responsive to touch or other stimuli. This is the point at which we can commence surgery. I removed the fish from the induction tank and weighed her before calculating an appropriate dose of pain relief and injecting her in the muscle on her back. Then she was placed on a wet towel to prevent drying or damage to her scales, and Sharon the nurse lifted the gill cover (operculum) and syringed oxygenated water containing the anaesthetic agent over her gill filaments to keep her oxygenated and anaesthetised throughout the procedure. This lump removal was very simple therefore only lasted a couple of minutes, but in longer operations we would avoid having the fish out of water for too long a period. Generally every 3-4 minutes we would replace the fish back into a recovery tank to re-oxygenate and if she became too light (regaining response to stimulus) then quickly transfer her back to the induction chamber to get her deep enough to continue with the surgery again out of water. So, very long procedures in fish surgery involve a lot of dunking, and finely balancing the plane of anaesthesia via concentrations of anaesthetic in each tank.

Entering anaesthetised state with loss of balance and reduced respiratory rate

Entering anaesthetised state with loss of balance and reduced respiratory rate

Administering pain relief medication via intramuscular injection

Administering pain relief medication via intramuscular injection

Cauterised site of lump removal

Cauterised site of lump removal

In this case, I used a scalpel to carefully remove the tumour at the base and cauterised the wound with heat after to stop the bleeding. It was just approaching lunch time and my stomach was grumbling. Grilled salmon, anyone?! Once the lump had been removed and bleeding stopped she was replaced in the plain water recovery tank to excrete the anaesthetic compound back into the water. As she regained consciousness and her respiratory rate rose in the recovery tank the anaesthetic agent was cleared from her system. Finally she was placed back into another tank of pond water to fully recover, as the initial recovery tank was now contaminated with low levels of the anaesthetic agent, keeping her somewhat groggy. She made a great recovery over about 15-20 minutes and waited in an oxygenated container to go home and be returned to her pond and shoal of mates. Due to cost constraints we are not sending the lump off to be classified so unfortunately do not know if it was a benign or malignant tumour.

So there you have it, Fish Anaesthesia and Surgery 101! Special thanks to Sharon our amazing nurse (now fish anaesthesiologist!) and vet student Tana, the talented photographer.

Recovering in oxygenated plain pond water, gradually excreting anaesthetic agent and regaining consciousness

Recovering in oxygenated plain pond water, gradually excreting anaesthetic agent and regaining consciousness