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.

 

 

 

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62 thoughts on “20 Ways to Drive Your Vet Crazy!

    • #1 If your pet throws up and or has diarrhea, you are not going to call the vet the first day because he will tell you the same thing the pediatrician says, “keep him hydrated, do etc… and if it doesn’t improve in a few of days we will bring you in.” If the timing turns out to be Friday, the owner has been hoping the pet would improve but is now fearful to let it go on any longer and wary that his pet won’t be seen until Monday if he doesn’t call Friday. It has been torture the past three days. NOBODY just ignores throw-up and diarrhea.

      #3 People hear things, see things on line. There is a lot of conflicting information. The vet is the only educated judge most people have access to to ask questions. If I was a vet, I would welcome questions, even if they arise from things clients have seen on line.

      #4 Just because an owner has a pedigree, doesn’t mean they are rich. We have owned 4 toy poodles, all of which we have gotten as puppies and kept until death. For us they are the perfect pet: The right size for snuggling and sleeping in bed with you. Easy to keep clean and free of fleas without use of poisons. They do not shed. The best is none of them have run off. They stay right with you – you don’t even need a leash although we do use one. We don’t have a fence and when we let them out, they go to the bathroom and come back in without leaving our yard, even when there are temptations like other dogs or squirrels. For us, we always have to have a dog and even though poodles are expensive to buy, I would scrape together my last savings to get one. I am sick of being made to feel guilty because we didn’t get a shelter dog. We are responsible pet owners. We get all their shots, get them fixed, take them to puppy school, but we are bad people if we get the kind of dog we want, that is right for us. We are only supposed to get the dogs that the irresponsible owners dumped in the shelters because they didn’t train their dogs. Then the vet sees we have a pedigree dog and see $$$ and tries to sell us as many services as he can bamboozle us in to buying.

      • #1 Lots of people ignore vomiting and diarrhoea, or don’t call the vet office. Most vets will offer an appointment to rule out more serious causes such as foreign bodies, intussuseptions and worse. It’s not a blanket rule to let each case wait 2-3 days to see what happens. Better to be safe than sorry.

        #3 Most vets do welcome discussions and encourage clients to do some research online, from REPUTABLE SOURCES. We can only get through so much in the space of a consult, so I often jot down a website where they can learn more when they get home. The point is about people believing they know better because they’ve read something on Google, and may have already decided on a diagnosis themselves hence argue with the vet diagnosis. Despite not fully understanding why their idea might be completely ruled out in that specific case due to something the vet has ascertained on a clinical history or physical exam.

        #4 You’ve completely missed the point. Nobody is bashing or judging people who love and choose to buy a pedigree dog. It is just extremely frustrating when somebody (the small minority thankfully) who can’t afford a dog to begin with goes and spends an extraordinary figure on a pedigree dog and then complains and skimps on even the most basic of care like vaccinations, neutering. Or can’t provide for the pet financially when things go wrong. Poor planning, and poor puppy parenting. Neither of which describe you as a dog owner. You sound like a wonderful Poodle owner. Although, please don’t sling all vets with the accusation that we see $$$ with pedigree dog owners. Highly insulting. I’m not even going to expand on why that is an unfair comment.

      • No. What they mean is when someone comes in with a dogue de Bordeaux, pulling up in a new Audi with new iPhone 7 in hand and then kick and scream when we tell them the price for some meds. And no. By the people who ring 5 mins before closing 90% have just left it to long! Monday comes in for treatment having left it from the Friday before, they come in and get told to give meds for 5 days then come back 2 weeks late 5 mins before closing they will ring and kick off there dog is worse and it’s out fault they didn’t come in when they were told to. People do not realise the shit we go through in that job and the way the general public speak and treat staff is appalling. It’s made me a cynical person because stupid fuckers don’t get that yes you have to pay a vets because ITS A FUCKING BUSINESS!!! To buy even the simple booster vaccines costs hundreds of pounds!! If we could do it out of the goodness of our heart we would but as many of us like paying rent and eating food and there’s no doggy nhs any time soon!

        Also IF YOU GET A PEDIGREE DOG EXPECT TO PAY OUT AS THEY ARE THE WORSE FOR GENETIC PROBLRMS AND TRAITS!!!!! BLAME YOURSELF FOR NOT DOING THE RESEARCH NOT US WHEN WE TELL YOU THE ***FACTS*** ABOUT THE BREED. Sorry we forget everyone is an expert because they saw an add on tv or a pop up online..

  1. Well written! But I’m surprised anyone argues with you in person with those puppy dog eyes, adorable smile and sexy accent. You must be the most popular vet on the planet.
    You should be a TV vet with your own bloody show!

  2. Absolutely Spot On! (and I’m not talking Advantix) Hahaha….. I soooo want to share that on the clinic Facebook page but may well piss off 50% of my clients. Bummer! Thanks for the Monday morning laugh.

  3. Fascinating. I had no idea that pet owners could be so horrible. (By the way, when you’re fixing the “it’s/its” problem, note also that apostrophes NEVER indicate pluralization. You did it a couple of times, including “Animal’s cope with pain.”)

    I should share your post with my cat’s vet!

    • Never? You never dot your i’s or cross your t’s? You didn’t learn your ABC’s or 123’s?
      Number 21 on this list should be nitpick tiny grammar mistakes when the message is perfectly clear. If it is easy to understand the resulting sentence, and you weren’t specifically asked to proofread it, keep your needling corrections in your head. No one is happy to hear it.

  4. So I guess it’s not just in our country/practice then 😉 Another favorite, explain to the client that the vomiting animal shouldn’t have anything to eat/drink for at least 12 hours in order to help calm the gi tract. Watch their eyes get round as small dishes and their anxiety about the pet getting dehydrated (because obviously vomiting their guts out for the previous two days weren’t reasons to worry about dehydration as long as we’re providing the animal with water/food it refuses to touch). Come back the next day and say the animal continues to vomit despite treatment…casually answer the question if they had anything to eat/drink with a “he/she seemed a lot better so I gave him a bowl of water and food about 3 hours after we left your clinic, I didn’t want it to suffer or get dehydrated!”

    Btw to all the people bitching about it’s, its and whatnot:way to get yourself on a similar list ie. “People we all have encountered and loathe in the online community”. Way to always be mistake-free!

  5. I’m a vet in the middle states of the US and I was laughing so hard, because EVERY single one of these is true (and sadly, becoming more and more common). I’m sorry you all get the same on your side of the pond. 🙂

  6. Hello Exotic Pet Vet,

    Great blog article. I am not a vet, but am an animal lover and have my animals for treatment, spay/neuter, and euthanization when it was the last best thing I could do to end suffering. I also volunteer with animal rescue organizations and have a few gems I’ld like to share.

    1) “Oh no we don’t want to spay/neuter our animal because we want our children to experience the wonders of birth!” But then they dump the puppies, kittens, etc. at a rescue group (if the animals are lucky) because they don’t want to actually care for them. I always wonder what they think they are teaching their children about the wonders of birth when they abandon the babies as soon as possible, many times not even waiting for them to be weaned. I would like to advise these “adults” to show their children a home movie of their own birth instead of teaching them how to cast of living animals because they don’t want to be responsible for the results of “the wonders of birth”.

    2) “I am fine with spaying females, but I won’t neuter males because it cuts to close to home”. Seriously! Do you have any idea how many females can be impregnated by one male?! Do you know how many animals are euthanized because the shelters are full?!
    Do you have an inkling of a clue about the amount of strays that come into shelters so badly injured or infected with an incurable infectious disease so they are euthanized as a kindness as anthing else would be cruel.

    3) “Oh I don’t agree with spay/neuter, birth control for any animal goes against my beliefs” Really!!!!!???? Splutter, splutter, I am speechless!

    4) “Animals (non-human) don’t feel pain or grief”. Wow, there is another person I hope never has an animal in their care, including human animals.

    Just as a side comment. Hey Doc, do you think everyone obsessing over the punctuation in your article was totally missing the point?!

    • Yeah agree with all those examples, too, have heard them all! I think people like to be pedantic online, especially perhaps when the overall message hits close to the bone and they lash out with passive aggressive nitpicking! Oh well, all I can say is it had been a LONG day and I obviously wasn’t concentrating very well as usually am better on punctuation. Big deal! ;o)

    • I am a kitty, and I should write an article “20 Ways Your Vet Drives You Crazy!” Number one would be: When they ask “Would you like a declaw with your spay/neuter? You know you will be back and kitty will already be medicated, might as well do it now.”

      • British vet writing so declawing not an issue as illegal practice in the UK. However, your sentiments are felt here across the pond, it is an evil and barbaric practice

  7. As a veterinary technician for 32 yrs, I have heard so many veterinarians and staff member say…” Honestly, my job would be perfect it it weren’t for humans. ” Example? The persons here arguing over grammar. Listen to , and grasp the objective lessons from all of us who have stayed til midnight in an emergency surgery, and then slept on the floor with your pet that night, on concrete, in the clinic, next to the warmed ( by us) soft bed of your pet, to ensure a safe return to your home. At 4 am when we are replacing an IV line or treating with pain meds, changing bedding with vomit or diarrhea, or comforting with compassion, and yes kisses…. the least thing we are worried about? Grammar. “We be doin us some lovin of your your pets. 🙂 ” Thank the back staff some time. We won’t worry about the grammar, or apostrophes. Promise.

  8. Sounds a lot like working in an emergency dept. and GP practice. Similar crazy situations.!!!! So many think they know better than the professionals. Dr Google has a lot to answer for.!

  9. very nicely written chapeau to each and every one doing such a wonderful and rewarding- from thr animals sureky – job do not mind the strange comments here my puppy , pinsher, and me say hi♡

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  13. Just last night…
    Breeder: last time my vet opened his practice to do the C-section
    OOH provider: Sorry madam, but you’ll have to bring the bitch to us this time
    Breeder: oh! I don’t understand that change. Why don’t you do it at my vet’s practice
    OOH provider: because we don’t have your vet’s practice’s keys…

  14. Sorry to be picky, but I think Dr. Robert M. Miller, who drew the cartoon, should have received full credit for his skill and humor. RMM has probably written full columns and/or drawn cartoons on almost everyone of the points in the article. Secondly, respect for who we are and what we do should start within our profession. We are ALL veterinarians, not vets. The noun is pronounced vet-er-i-nar-ian, NOT vet-ri-nar-ian. The adjective is pronounced vet-er-i-nary NOT or vet-i-nary. Yes, I am old and I wore a white shirt and tie with a professional jacket EVERY day when I was meeting my clients who were presenting their beloved pets to me for treatment. I have always believed that if the veterinary profession was to be respected for what we do, we had to present ourselves professionally as Doctors of Veterinary Medicine. While I cringed at the term “vet” I also laughed at the content. I recognize that the use of language is a bit different in the UK!

    • Hi Dr. Kruse, thanks so much for your comment! I admire Dr. Miller’s cartoons a great deal, and made sure that his signature was included in the illustration to credit his work. If that wasn’t enough I apologise. I am well aware of the distinction between the words vet and veterinarian or veterinary surgeon. I don’t believe I misspelled my profession anywhere in this blog but please tell me if there was a mistake made somewhere. As an aside, I was very tired and overworked after a long week when I wrote it and made several annoying grammatical errors with apostrophe use which were pointed out to me, and edited later. We are all human so mistakes happen. It is I believe a matter of preference to use the abbreviation to vet, and I understand why some feel it may undermine our title, but that is a matter of opinion. Perhaps in this case it is purely a geographical difference, as the majority of the public in the UK and Ireland (who after all were the main intended audience for this piece) would only ever use the term vet to refer to our ilk in everyday conversation. Use of the word veterinarian I find to be far more common on your side of the pond. I don’t personally find it disrespectful at all to be labelled a vet rather than a veterinarian.

  15. I am a kitty, and I should write an article “20 Ways Your Vet Drives You Crazy!” Number one would be: When they ask “Would you like a declaw with your spay/neuter? You know you will be back and kitty will already be medicated, might as well do it now.”

    • Oh dear Cassandra, sounds like you really hate vets. Lots of cats do. Sadly they don’t realise most of us are out to help them. Some cat’s owners demand we cut off their claws as a matter of routine, to save their furniture and such. I personally think this is a pretty barbaric practice, and my opinion is if you don’t like the fact kittys have claws and like to scratch things, don’t get a kitty. But that’s just me. In fact in the UK where I live it is ILLEGAL to declaw cats, and considered a mutilation. So just as I didn’t tar every client with the same brush in an angry comment online, please show me the same respect as a vet. Just because you had a bad experience, don’t believe we are all bad guys. Plenty of vets in the US also refuse to carry out declaws by the way. But the public still demand it! Thanks puss, have a great day! ;o) PS: You’re obviously very clever to have mastered English language and typing on a keyboard, and all that despite being declawed! Kudos to you kitty! I wonder how many things on my list your Mommy has done at the vets too?

      • None of the things on your list, mom used to respect them. Mom always paid her bill, mom’s animals always were good, except me, the vet wanted to euthanize me when mom found me and decided to keep me,she brought me in for a check-up and I hated the vet, and he hated me. Check out my blog.

  16. Great article. We LOVE our vet! Same vet for over 22 years! I take my three Keeshonden there on days when they don’t need any contact with the vet so they can get weighed. This gives them a happy experience when they come in. They are always happy to see the staff – and the staff is happy to see them.

    My only beef is with #15 – as I think there are alternatives to some of these issues. Fortunately our vet is totally on board with that and we come up with a plan. I appreciate all that my vet and staff do to answer my questions – even if it requires some research on their part.

    Oh – and we do call them vets in Canada and so do my US friends. I show my dogs in the US and Canada and everyone calls their veterinarian a vet… We all know the difference and can appreciate BOTH meanings.

    Thanks for the great article….

  17. I like this post. It’s very informative. The comments section was pretty entertaining, too… Hahaha.

    If you’re ever interested in tips on building your brand then check out my blog. Have a nice day.

  18. As someone who has been involved in animal rescue for many years and is a professional pet sitter, I’ve been known to give advice in waiting rooms. In fact, the last time I did this, I was in the waiting room of the vet school emergency room waiting to hear the neurological report on a client’s dog. Since my client was out of town on business, when her dog had 3 seizures within 3 hours (due to a brain tumor), I felt it was necessary to stay at the vet school until she could get a flight back 8 hours later. It was important that her baby hear a familiar voice every time they gave me a few minutes to go back and be with him. While sitting in the waiting room I overheard a man on the phone asking family members for advice because the doctor felt amputation of his boxer’s leg was the only way to save him. The owner was worried that the dog would not have any quality of life with three legs and was considering euthanasia. After his call, I introduced myself and told him I’d like to show him something. I had recently seen a video of a two-legged boxer playing on the beach and loving life. I told the man if THAT dog could live his life so fully, there was no reason his dog couldn’t do the same with three legs. He honestly had no idea because he had never been around a animal that it had a limb amputated. While the doctors could give him facts and figures, I think seeing that dog play made all the difference…and he decided to go ahead with the surgery. A lot of my clients have animals with chronic or terminal illnesses. That just seems to be my niche. I do a lot of research online about medical conditions and treatments and offer tips and hints anytime I can. But I always tell them to discuss everything with there yet. Just like people, every animal is an individual, and reacts differently to different treatments. But sometimes the questions I suggest they ask are ones they haven’t thought of before. Sometimes it’s as simple as a reaction between medications. Knowing that I’m a visual person, I always suggest my clients to take any and all medications their pet is taking with them when they go to their vet appointments. I know that the vet has that information in their chart, but sometimes it’s on multiple pages and it can help to actually have the medications in front of them. I did exactly the same thing with my mother’s doctor when I was taking care of her before she passed away.

  19. I think that article is very arrogant and exactly the dort of vets I loathe. You seem to have no time for senitive people, people who are firghtened for themselves and their animal,, who may worry about your very high fees and how to pay them if you do remove 20 teeth instead of 1. RCVS guidelines encourage clients to ask quetions of their veterinary surgeon we have the right to do so or disagree with what you say. After all you are not God

    • Ah Christine. I have dealt with these everyday and they are the reason I no longer practice. Sorry to burst your bubble but I think you’ll find that EVERY vet thinks like this!!! They won’t say it to your face in your status as difficult client. You do seem to be missing the point of all of this… Owning an animal is a privilege not a right. If you cannot afford the healthcare fees (which are pretty widely known to anyone who has done the research) for your pet then you should not have one, end of. I didn’t have a pet while I was working as I couldn’t afford to care for one on my salary as a vet… Which was less than minimum wage when you add up the hours I put in. No one goes into vet work for the money, if they did they’d be bitterly disappointed. You have no idea how much the equipment required to provide the care costs to buy and run. Oh and how dare we charge for our time so we can afford to eat and put a roof over our and our family heads!!! Outrageous!!

      As to your last statement, it always confused me why anyone would pay for my professional advice and decade of experience, then completely ignore it in favour of something someone with no training has written/said. That seems completely nonsensical. I’m sure I’ll be labeled as “one of those vets” by you now but I’m afraid that situations like these written here and your reaction to it are the reason that 5 of the 70 people I trained with took their own lives. Think on that before you sound off on something that is a venting zone for people stuck in an extremely stressful situation whilst doing their best to help.

  20. dear lily, I totally agree with you and, after nearly 20 years in the business, which I ve started with high hopes and all the good will in the world to save the poor creatures, I m slowly but surely moving away from contact with people. Let the young and brave face the world, I d rather deal with surgeries and finance, and spare my weary soul!

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