Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Five Things I Wish My Clients Understood Better

1. That my job is simply to keep your pet happy and healthy.

There is no sense in any veterinarian taking advantage of you. Should you ever feel this way ask them to explain what they are doing and why they are doing it. Some of us are better at explaining things to client than others, but every veterinarian understands that the only way your pet is going to get help is with you at the other end of the leash walking them in our front door. Those vets who are reserved, quiet, or lack a good bed side manner are still highly trained and experienced experts in the area of pet care. But every single successful relationship starts with both parties ability to work together with a common goal. Trust is the cornerstone to every successful endeavor. Trust your vet or move on and find another. I really want nothing more than to practice the skills I have honed and help you build a better, stronger, and happier bond with your pet. There is no hidden motive. Find a vet you identify, understand, and trust. They are the guide to help you make every decision to keep your pet happy and healthy.

2. That most of the veterinary care your pet needs can be done at your home.

Most clients understand that a happy healthy pet is a pet on a good diet (food), in a home free of stress, with people who care about them, and a good exercise plan. It is the same formula for a person to thrive. There has to be balance, protection, and love.
If your pet has an ailment, illness, or injury, your vet can help you treat and manage almost every aspect of their care. Talk about what you are feeding your pet, and every item that your pet eats. Obesity is an epidemic, talk about snacks, food offered, lifestyle, and consequences. Diabetes is a preventable disease in pets, avoid it with diet and exercise. Dental disease is the most common and most over looked pet ailment. If you can brush daily, you can avoid, r at least minimize the need for costly dental cleanings and extractions. If your pet has an ear infection, skin infection, wound, etc., there should be both a short AND a long term plan for BOTH resolving it AND for preventing it in the future. If your vet doesn't provide you with both ask them to do so. Better yet, ask for it in writing. Going home with written (legible) instructions will help you take better care of your pet. It will also help you not use any medications incorrectly.
If your pet has an infection (especially those pesky ear infections, paw lickers, butt scooters, hotspot, and urinary tract infection victims), there is a very good chance they will get it again. Ask your vet for something to help you avoid, or recognize it sooner, the next time.

3. That the guy at Petsmart has no credentials to be giving you advice on what to feed your dog, or put in his ears, treat his intestinal parasites, or assist in your behavioral issues.

OK, that guy is probably trying to help you, but really what credentials does he have to do this? "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." If he is wrong about his diagnosis and treatment plan who do you have to blame? Is your pet's health and ability to recover quickly going to be compromised by waiting, or even perhaps worsened because you waited and treated on your own?
I'll give you an example, ear medications. The HUGE majority of over the counter products are worthless, and many of them are detrimental to your pets ears. Why? because you do not have the ability to diagnose the problem. Dogs rarely (I want to say 'Never' but we are trained to never say 'never') get ear mites. A dog shaking their head needs a vet to look inside their ears..waiting leaves you more likely to BOTH infection AND ear hematomas. This equals twice as expensive to treat.
Food/diet advice is best left to your vet. I am almost at the end of my sanity with the random unfounded advice from every salesperson, friend,,,,etc., about what to feed. It is crazy. Literally.

4. That the breeder does not have a medical license.

They may be experts as breeding, but their ability to provide a diagnosis and treatment plan is better left to a person who can examine your pet, perform diagnostics, and discuss treatment options with you. When you sit in the exam room with your pet and tell your vet that "the breeder recommended...." it is equivalent to telling your general practitioner that "your psychic told you that you have a brain tumor." In general, we ignore it. Sorry.

5. That my ability to help your help is directly proportional to your desire to do the same.

If you have followed my advice with number 1 then number 5 is easy. Every vet that I know will help you find a way to help your pet if disaster hits IF you want to help them. Be the person that you would want to help. Be nice, be honest, and be reasonable. For my longtime good clients I will offer payment assistance, contact rescue groups that  help pets in need, or even do pro bono work. There are options and resources for people. They are in limited supply, but most veterinarians are in practice because we care about people who care about their pets.
For clients who want to help their pets and are on a budget we can offer discounted generic drugs, multiple treatment options, and if you ever feel uncomfortable, skeptical, or unsure about what to do, get a second opinion. It is my hope that this is what you would do for yourself should the patient be you.

If you have any pet questions you can ask me free at Pawbly.com. Meet people who can help, offer advice of your own, and meet people who share your same pet interests.

Or find me on Twitter @FreePetAdvice, or on Google+.


  1. 4. It helps that back in the day I used to *be* one of those people working at a pet store. I never claimed to know more than a veterinarian but I didn't realize that what I was being "taught" was marketing information, not actually based in reality.

    Some stores will claim we veterinarians just don't know what they know, having been there helps me show clients that I do know, and they're misinformed.

    1. Hello!
      Thanks for reading and for your being honest about what is very common practice in the pet food stores.

      Have a great day!

  2. I loved this! I'm going to share it. I started blogging a few months ago but haven't broached subjects like this as I don't want to offend clients. A delicate balance indeed

    1. Hello,
      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I use my blog as a way to vent, grapple with cases, decide who I am amidst a field of people and clients that I dont always see eye to eye with, etc. Bu I decided long ago that i had to write from my 1st person perspective, in a enuine, honest voice, and live with the consequences of people telling me why i am wrong with all of that. I never mean or intend to judge or offend, but I will die being honest,, and maybe a big loud, emotional, and opinionated..but that is who I am.
      I open my mouth too much and I apologize when it hurts people.. my lessons of life arent complete, but my conscious is clear and and I am still the vet out to save the world one wet nose at a time. In the end I am always true to that, and I never make a decision that is not in the pets best interest.
      Life for me isn't about trying to maintain a balance it is about living it every single second. I don't sweat the small stuff and I live by my own motto and creed. I am not the vet to every client, and I do not wish to be. It has proven to make me a happier healthier vet and built a more successful practice.
      Best of luck, and I look forward to reading your blog.

  3. Wonderful article Dr Magnifico! Admired your courage and honesty. I did similar article on my blog but was nervous of offending clients too. Keep up the good work. Mary.