Monday, April 23, 2012

Part Two "50 Secrets Your Vet Won't Tell You"

This is the second part of the May Reader's Digest article, "50 Secret's Your Vet Won't Tell You."

I wanted to go through the article and give each "secret" my own take on it.

I thought the article was very good overall. I think that there are also a few items that were missed. I thought that going through each secret and giving you the real inside reason, or explaining the secret would help. Because in typical Reader's Digest fashion the articles are short and to the point..But there is too much left out for me to feel comfortable with just listing them.

Number 6

"We're a vet hospital, not a dog hotel. People will get upset because their dog got a sheet instead of two fluffy blankets or because their dog didn't get hand-fed. We're just trying to get your dog better so he can come home and you can spoil him." Jessica Stout-Harris, a vet tech who runs

To this I respond; a hospital is a hospital. Dog or human. It is very important that our patients and clients feel comfortable while in our care. People are often upset because they are worried and stressed. So often it's not really about the blanket, it's about the disease. Clients want to feel that we value their pet as much as they do. I bet it is the same when your family member is in the hospital? We are all advocates for our sick family members when they are in the hospital and voicing a concern is an expected and acceptable response to leaving a pet in our care. And hand feeding is often a necessary and required action to encourage these guys to eat. We always encourage family members to come visit their pets and we want them to be as actively engaged in the healing process as possible. We also encourage them to fluff pillows, supply blankets, walk, and hand feed their pets.

I remind my staff that the doting parents might be a little annoying, as I am sure they would be if their child was in the hospital, but how many owners do we see that don't care at all? If I have to chose an owner it's ALWAYS the doting and demanding ones.

Number 7

"Here's a pet peeve: owners who don't want to pay for diagnostic tests but then cop an attitude because you don't know whats wrong with the animal. Since you wouldn't let me do the blood work or X-rays, how the heck do you expect me to know?" A vet in So Carolina

Goodness! Can I ever identify with this one. I can't even classify this as a pet peeve. I need to categorize it as one of the "most stressful parts of my job." It is very difficult to diagnose a pet when you cannot use many, or any, of the tools available to you in your tool kit. I can give you a list of possible diagnoses, but the list will be longer and longer as the tools available to me to figure out the puzzle of your pets ailments gets shorter and shorter. Imagine if you went to your doctor, you couldn't speak to them (because you are an animal and I don't speak dog or cat) and then they couldn't run any tests on you? What do you expect would happen? Well, there is a much higher chance that you would stay feeling sick longer and a much lower chance that they would be able to identify the cause of your illness. If you don't get a diagnosis it is very hard to start a treatment plan. Which further reduces your chances of recovery.

Now I understand that many of us live on budgets, and that these budgets have gotten tighter for many of us in the last few years. But if you ask me to play it very conservatively to begin with there is a much greater chance we will loose precious time, and even have to repeat much of the diagnostics we have done previously to get a more full picture if you decide to pursue this disease process later.

Number 8

"If you're visiting your pet in the hospital, and we say something along the lines of 'OK, it's time to let Fluffy sleep now,' often what we really mean is that you're in our way, and we're trying to treat other patients." Jessica Stout-Harris

OK, this seems to be deceitful and ridiculous to me. If you are concerned about not being able to adequately care for a patient then you politely tell the owner that you are going to do your best to take good care of their pet so they can go home with you as soon as possible. If we know the client wants and needs some alone time and the patient is stable enough to do so, we put them in a quiet private place to spend some time together.

If the patient isn't stable enough we assure the owners that we will do everything we can, and that we will notify them immediately if anything changes.

This job is all about trust. Without that there is no need to be a great vet, no matter how incredible your skills are trust keeps your patients and clients coming back.

If a client even gets a whiff of deceit, even in the tiniest forms like, "what we really mean is..." they will find someone they do trust and your skills that you spent countless hours earning, honing and practicing are worthless.

Number 9

"I understand the value of dog parks, but I personally wouldn't take my dog there. We see alot of dogs who were injured at dog parks." Rachel Simpson, a vet tech at Adobe Animal Hospital in Los Altos, Ca

I live in a rural area. We are lucky to have state parks, huge open areas, farms galore, and few townhouses or apartments. It is a dogs paradise around here.But for those of you who don't live in the country dog parks are a vital, necessary and absolutely essential part to raising a well rounded happy puppy or dog. Raising a dog is much like raising a child. They need lots of exercise, playmates, and friends to learn most of their grown up skills. In many ways the dog park is like the play ground. It requires that you keep a protective watchful eye over your kids and protect them if needed. It also means that if your kid turns out to be the bully you get help in teaching them how to become a respectful member of society.

Number 10

"Every time I save a life, every time I fix a patient, that makes everything worth it. And I love it when a client says, "I wish my physician would treat me as nice as you treat my pets." Phil Zimmerman, DVM

I treat every pet as if they were my own. I also expect my physician to treat me like I am as valuable as his family member. I tell my clients that it is an honor to be their vet, and it is an honor I try to earn everyday. I have also gone through the same process with my own physician. (In fact as of 2012 my husband and I have not only switched our health insurance we have switched our general practitioner. It was a pain in the butt, but worth it. We have benefited immensely from that decision. There is a reason JHU is the best in the world, just ask me). Find a vet, vet tech, doctor, and hospital you trust and love and then let them know how much you value them.

Your health care is your responsibility, be an active diligent and demanding participant in it. Its really all up to you.


  1. Treating an animal with compassion at a vet is very important and one tech can ruin the practice. At my old vet, people were happy to see the half-dead mangled contagious infected inflamed, lethargic, and abandoned dog blossom into MY silly happy butt-wiggling strutting wispy tailed hard core rock and roll loving ZombieMonsterface. However a few techs treated him like trash because he's not a "pretty" dog. He's old and stinks sometimes. They were rough with him and he threw up in the exam room. I made that nasty tech clean it up.

  2. Thank you so much for these posts and your blog in general. I am learning so much. With every post, I know how much you love animals and I trust your knowledge and even more, your integrity. I know that you will do what is best, to the best of your ability for me and my precious dog-child.

    1. Hello Tarah,

      Thank you for reading, and for the kind words.

      I try to provide an interesting story and also add a few little tid-bits on pet care, veterinary medicine, and the life of being a vet.

      I love what I do, and I am happy to share it. There are so many inspiring people and pets that I meet. I am very very lucky to be able to do what I do.

      And as much as I love my job, I love the pets, all of them, even more.

      Thanks Again,