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Monday, August 31, 2015

Things Your Veterinarian Would Like You To NOT Do!

1. Cleaning your pet's ears before bringing him in for an ear problem. We would really like to see what those ears look like (what kind of "goo" is in there) to help us determine the severity of, and help characterize the nature of, the problem. Cleaning them before the visit makes it harder for us to do this!

2. Not coming back for the recheck visit because your pet is all better now, and you don't need to pay us to tell you that. I understand the thinking here, but there's a couple reasons that recheck visits are important in pets who are doing well with their treatment. First of all, the pet may be doing much better, but there can be subtle things going on which indicate that there still is a problem. Detecting and addressing these things before they spiral is pretty cost-effective, and better for the pet. Secondly, I often use the recheck visit to determine, based on your pet's response to the initial treatment, a long-term plan to prevent recurrence of the problem. This is especially important in skin and ear diseases.

3. Not coming back for the recheck visit because your pet isn't better, and we obviously don't know what we're doing.  Again, I understand the rationale, but there is much to be learned from treatment failure. If you switch vets at this point, you will be starting all over from scratch. We are human, and we don't hit the target 100% of the time when treating your pets' illnesses. Lack of response to therapy is an important diagnostic clue which helps us redirect our thinking, hopefully in a direction which will lead to an improved outcome. I've been the "second opinion" doctor on many of these cases over the years, and usually the original doctor had done exactly what I would have done. But when it didn't work, the client decided to seek a second opinion. Please give your vet a couple opportunities to come up with an effective treatment plan!

4. Making an appointment, then not showing up. Believe it or not, when you make an appointment, your vet has reserved about 30 minutes of time, which could be used to help other patients! If you can't come in, please have the courtesy to call and tell us.

5. Sending someone in with your pet who has no authority to make decisions. An important part of coming up with  a treatment plan for a pet is the owner's willingness and ability to pay for it, and "how far you're willing to go" in treating the pet. We want to work with  you to find a plan that best addresses the pet's needs and also takes in to consideration the owner's desires. If the decision-maker isn't at the appointment, we end up guessing. You can imagine how well that works out.

6. Sending someone in with your pet who can't handle him. It's really fun when a really worked-up pet is brought in by someone who is afraid of them.

7. Bad-mouthing another vet to us. This is just awkward. Also, it makes us wonder if you will be bad-mouthing us after this visit.

8. Citing your medical or animal knowledge to challenge our diagnosis or treatment plan. Do you seriously think animals and their diseases are exactly the same as human diseases? Do you really think that just because you have bred and raised dogs that you know more about their illnesses than a trained doctor? Look, you are welcome to question my thinking, and I will be glad to explain it. I also know that you might think of something I didn't, which could actually benefit your pet. We are happy to consider your ideas. However, you really should defer to us when we disagree. Animal diseases are what we have spent years of our lives becoming expert at. We have more and better resources than you. Give us your questions and your input, but trust us to decide what will best help your pet get better.

9. Taking advantage of a personal relationship for free pet advice, if you take your pet somewhere else that is "cheaper." I am very willing to chat with friends and even distant acquaintances about a problem their pet may be having, as long as I am that pet's doctor. But if you have chosen to take your pet elsewhere for veterinary care, don't come up to me at a social event and start asking my advice.

10. Not controlling your pet in the waiting room. Your dog may be super-friendly, and doesn't know a stranger. That's great, but other dogs, cats, and their owners often get very anxious at best, aggressive at worst, when another dog runs up to them. PLEASE keep your dog on your lap or a short leash. You can invite people to come pet him, and of course our staff is always more than happy to lavish attention on him! We love our friendly dogs!

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