Vets and their whole support teams in clinics work very hard to take care of sick pets, and to help to advise owners on keeping their pets healthy.
Veterinary teams (which include receptionists, qualified veterinary nurses, animal healthcare assistants and sometimes other professionals like hydrotherapists, physiotherapists, and potentially a whole range of other specialists in referral clinics) often go out of their way for pets and owners too. This might mean having to undo years of damage that preventative healthcare could have avoided, making arrangements with owners who ask for services they can’t afford, and generally, meeting dog owners more than halfway if needed in the best interests of the dogs.
However, vets aren’t obliged to take care of your pets if you expect the impossible, can’t or won’t pay the fees charged, or make your vet’s life more difficult as a result of unreasonable demands or expectations; and additionally, keeping your vet on side is of course in the best interests of both you and your dog!
Few dog owners would like to think of themselves as being the type of client that the vet dreads seeing, and yet inadvertently becoming “that person” is all too easy, and viewing your vet as a convenience or someone that is responsible for helping you to sort out messes of your own causing is a poor approach to dog ownership full stop. It also of course does your dog a great disservice!
With this in mind, this article will share five things that some dog owners do that really annoy vets, and that can also be detrimental to the dog itself too. Read on to learn more.
Dogs need proper coat and skin care to keep their skin and coat healthy and in good condition, as well as to stop them from smelling bad, tackling fleas, and generally ensuring that your dog is comfortable and properly cared for. This is of course easier for some dogs than others, and caring for coats of certain breeds can be very high maintenance, as is the case for the Shih Tzu.
However, whether you care for your dog’s coat at home or use the services of a professional dog groomer, the onus for sorting out their coat falls to you – and not your vet!
If your dog is filthy, matted or jumping with fleas, your vet should not be expected to handle or treat them, and will often refuse to do so until you’ve got things sorted out. Additionally, it is unreasonable to expect your vet to have to clean your dog up before they can treat them; for instance, a dog needs to be reasonably clean in order to have a surgery, and they will need bathing if their skin and coat is grimy.
If your dog’s coat gets into such a bad state that a groomer cannot take care of it safely without risking cutting your dog due to matting or because the dog won’t tolerate the discomfort of it, you may have to pay your vet to sedate your dog and deal with the issue, which will be much more expensive than preventing the situation from arising in the first place!
The same is true for things like nail clipping; arrange this before your dog’s claws grow so long that they’re pressing into their pads and require veterinary intervention.
So your vet spent ten minutes with your dog, didn’t prescribe them anything, and charged you £30 (or more)? Outrageous!
Only, it really isn’t. Vets continually have to defend their fees to dog owners, and it should be self-evident but the cost of a consult reflects far more than a few minutes of someone’s time.
A vet spends at least five years at a competitive and highly specialist university before they even begin to earn a living (with entry-level qualified vet salaries being in the low £20,000s) to further their skills and qualifications, and the cost of operating a clinic and paying all of the staff within it hardly come cheap either!
Equipping a clinic with things like a single x-ray machine and ultrasound machine alone can cost millions, and if your clinic also has MRI or CT scanners and more advanced equipment, a lot more. Everything about providing veterinary services costs a lot of money, and you are also paying for the expertise and knowledge that your vet brings to the table too, vitally!
Because we have free medical care for ourselves on the NHS and even our NHS dental care is highly subsidised, we as dog owners rarely understand the true cost of healthcare; unlike people in the USA, where everything has to be paid for!
This means that veterinary fees can seem steep; but they reflect the costs and skills involved, and are highly unlikely to have risen significantly in the time since you first got your dog, and so were known to you or there for you to find out about as a cost of ownership before you committed to owning a pet!
Jumping off of that, whilst your vet might issue repeat prescriptions for known and managed conditions without needing to see your dog each time, they won’t simply supply you with prescription medications based on your own assessment of what is wrong with your dog, or because your dog has displayed the same symptoms and received a certain treatment before.
Most dog owners that expect meds without an exam and that get knocked back think that the vet is just trying to make money; which is first of all untrue, but secondly, perfectly reasonable! Why should they provide a free service; the rest of us don’t work for free!
But additionally, just because you think you know what is wrong with your dog or Dr Google has given you a diagnosis, this doesn’t mean you are right; your vet is a professional who takes a lot of responsibility on when they diagnose and prescribe to dogs, and if they get things wrong, the results can be fatal.
There are lots of ways in which you as a dog owner can prevent your dog from getting sick in the first place; such as by keeping them at a healthy weight, cleaning their teeth, and ensuring they get their annual health checks and booster shots.
Neglecting your dog’s preventative healthcare can lead to pain and discomfort for your dog and higher vets bills down the line, and may even shorten your dog’s lifespan.
Seeing preventable problems in dogs is frustrating and upsetting for vets, which is compounded when owners become angry that the vet cannot necessarily fix years of neglect, or charges for doing so.
Your vet can’t work miracles, and in order to provide your dog with the best possible care, you as their owner have an important part to play in this. This means following your vet’s advice to the letter when it comes to caring for your dog, including their often very specific directions.
When your vet tells you things like “finish the course of antibiotics” or “don’t take the buster collar off” they’re not trying to make your life harder; they’re trying to protect your dog’s health.
Failing to follow advice like this or worse, doing things like failing to give prescription medications in favour of “natural” or homeopathic alternatives that someone else told you are just as good will not just annoy your vet, but put your dog’s health at risk too.