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10 Things Veterinarians Do That Drive Dog Owners Crazy

Of late, there are an awful lot of “pet peeves of veterinarians” going around online. Want to drive dog owners crazy? Well, veterinarians sometimes do this, too! I have a major love and respect for veterinarians who truly have the interests of their pet clients at heart: Vets who are underpaid, work long hours, never know what is coming through the door most times, and have to deal with personalities and pets with any number of ailments.  That said, it disheartens this writer/dog mom to see so many negative posts about less than stellar pet parents online. Just as not all pet parents are created equal, the same holds true for veterinarians.

In the vein of “can’t we all get along,” there’s got to be a place where veterinarians who care and pet parents who care can meet and agree that first and foremost, put the best interests of the pet at the forefront. Here then are 10 things veterinarians do that drive dog owners crazy *

* You may not even realize this is crazy, but if your dog’s veterinarian is doing any of these things, question him or her on the spot.

Veterinarians who drive me crazy

(10) Requiring Your Dog Must Have Yearly Vaccinations

Am I anti-vaccine? No. Dogs need proper vaccination. Am I anti over vaccination? Absolutely. Diligent dog parents should have a discussion with their dog’s vet about potential adverse reactions. You absolutely do NOT need to re-vaccinate (give “boosters”) automatically.  A veterinarian who refuses to have a discussion about the dog’s overall vaccination schedule and what is in that dog’s best interests is not a veterinarian I would visit.

Click to read more about: Dogs and Vaccines: Yes or No?

Does a dog need vaccines

(9) Insisting You Must Buy The Food They Sell

If your dog has a condition or health issue that requires a specific food and your veterinarian is the only place where you can get that food, then by all means follow doctor’s orders. Many veterinary practices have food and other items for sale in office. You are not required to buy the food from the practice unless it is convenient and/or you choose to support the practice overall. I sometimes make purchases of treats while at the vet’s office as a reward for my dog. If the veterinarian tells you that typical over-the-counter foods are not available elsewhere, do a little investigating.

(8) Your Dog Must Stay Overnight

It’s what you are not being told that scares me to no end. Sometimes, dogs must stay overnight, but who is watching your dog during those critical hours? In some cases, no one is there. Many veterinary practices do not have the staff nor budget to have someone present around the clock. As of this writing, there is no written law that requires a veterinary facility to have a staff member on site to monitor animals overnight who had surgery that day. Many pet parents believe someone is present, and this is not the case.

Click to read more: Who Watches Your Dog Overnight at the Veterinarian

watches dog overnight

(7) Not Explaining Fancy Words and Medical Jargon

Please for the love of all things dog, if you toss medical terminology at us, do so with a followup explanation in English. I love medical terminology, have studied it, and even have a background in it, but the general population does not. Just tell us in simple terms what those test results mean.

(6) Treating My Dog Like a Wild Boar

I’ve only personally experienced one veterinarian who did this (or at least attempted to do this)…and I promptly left the office and never returned. Dogs are smart animals; they remember smells and sounds, and yes they remember experiences. Applying any sort of Cesar Milan techniques to my dog is grounds for me and my dog to leave in that moment. Placing a muzzle on my dog because “well, I’ve heard this breed bites” or “I was once bitten by this breed” doesn’t cut it either.

I absolutely advocate for the safety of the veterinarian and his or her staff. Click to read more about Why Does My Dog Need a Muzzle.

(5) Telling You They Do Not Believe in Alternative Medicine

Sigh. I am sure it gets grates on a vet’s nerves when clients come in and say, “I was reading online and found out blah blah blah.” Not everything we read online is true, but some of it is. When my previous Cocker Spaniel suffered from three to four urinary tract infections a year and antibiotics were the routine course of treatment, I knew something had to change. After talking to dog moms whose pooches had similar issues and researching this on my own, I found out that cranberry is often helpful for dogs (and people) suffering from UTIs. Brandy’s vet at the time passed it off as bunk and recommended we see a specialist who would operate on her bladder. This did not seem right to me, and the cranberry caps trial began. She lived the rest of her life without a UTI, and I let the vet know it. “Just lucky I guess,” was her response. See ya!

lgbt rights

(4) Yelling at Dogs

In my decades of dog ownership, nothing makes me cringe more and want to burst through the “back room” doors than hearing a barking dog, who is obviously kenneled, being told to “shut up” and perhaps even have the cage smacked at. I know a barking dog might grate on someone’s nerves. As a veterinary professional, you must have to deal with so many situations and the stress level is obviously high. You don’t need to scream at dogs who are barking nor smack at their cages. Yes, I’ve witnessed both and yes, I’ve reported both to office staff. If a dog is already under stress, stuck in a kennel for his or her own safety, anyone who screams or yells at that dog or smacks at his cage is wrong! Wrong! WRONG!

cocker_veterinarian

(3) Listen to Pet Parents: We Often Know More Than You (About Our Dogs)

Professionals in the veterinary field have the degrees and hopefully, continual training. Pet parents have the one-on-one with their dogs and often times, we have that parental “sense” that something isn’t right. Cases in point:

* From a human perspective, my wife was rushed to the emergency room last month, doubled over with severe abdominal pain. After waiting five hours to be seen, the doctor on call dubbed it a “muscle pull” and refused any further tests. We insisted on a CAT Scan. He was very annoyed, expressed that this was wasting the hospital’s money, and stormed out. She did get the CAT Scan two hours later, which showed a kidney stone lodged in her ureter. It required surgical intervention. Sometimes ignorance and attitude take over in the medical profession.

* I recall my last Cocker Spaniel jumping off the bed one night, as dogs do, She immediately began limping. We took her to a nearby emergency animal clinic who insisted it was a muscle pull. The on-call aviary (bird) doc told me to keep her off of it and she’d recover just fine. He refused an x-ray and injected her with a steroid that was three times too strong for her small body. She became a very sick little girl, and on later x-ray it was determined her patella had luxated (kneecap shifted). Frustrating.

Insist on what you know is right: Be kind, be firm, and be the dog parent your pet needs you to be.

(2) Refusing (not Acknowledging) A Specialist Is Needed

I know that times are tough. I read study after study that pet parents are making less and less visits to the veterinarian’s office.

Imagine this scenario: You are at the veterinarian with your dog because the dog has bloody diarrhea. Despite all the best efforts, medicines of the traditional and non-traditional variety, and testing the vet can do in office, things just don’t seem to be changing for the dog.

Which of the following would put you more at ease and help your dog in the long run:

A veterinarian who does not take offense to a second opinion requested by the client;

A veterinarian who suggests the client get a second opinion and/or refers to the client to a specialist;

Both of the above are correct with the dog’s best interests in mind.

A second opinion happens when seeking medical advice from an equally credentialed vet while a referral deals with sending the client to a specialist. It is incredibly scary to ask for a second opinion if you believe your dog’s regular veterinarian will be offended or get upset.

Some veterinarians will help clients make the second opinion visit or you may choose to do it yourself.

Read more about how to say no to the veterinarian.

veterinarian news

(1) Bullying Pet Parents Into Euthanasia

This is a very hot topic and a very personal one to me: I had to make the dreaded decision to end my dog’s suffering when western and eastern medicine could not help her any longer. There is a thought process that “you will know when it is time” to let a dog go. Or “You will see it in their eyes.”

Having interviewed hundreds of grieving pet parents over the years along with dozens of veterinary professionals, I can honestly put my writing reputation on the line and say this is not always the case.

This is one of the most concise articles on deciding if and when to humanely euthanize your loving family dog.

A kind and loving veterinarian will not bully you or prod you into making this decision; they will understand your emotional attachment and if you need to spend time considering all options; they will not tell you that your dog should be “put down”if you don’t feel ready.

A kind and loving veterinarian will talk to you about the process, explain what will happen, and be there for you ever step of the way.  It is a tortuous decision for most dog moms and dog dads, so saying a temporary physical goodbye to a beloved family member should not be taken lightly. Do it when it feels right for you and the dog. Get a second opinion…and a third…and see a specialist. Don’t have regret later.

Bottom Line

Finding a good veterinarian with whom you can foster a relationship for you and your dog is worth its weight in golden dog biscuits.  Read this: How to Find a Good Veterinarian for Your Dog. You and your dog will be happy in the long run. For all the caring, dedicated veterinarians, we raise our sparkling water bowls to you in gratitude, and that includes Dexter’s vet!

Do you have a good relationship with your vet? Ever have issues with a veterinarian that made you uncomfortable?

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50 Comments

  1. We see the vet once a year and I have never had an issue. It’s usually a quick visit to make sure all is well 🙂

  2. You know in the last year I have had to deal with 3 different vet offices. They all drive me nuts. Finally this last one was the best so far. I just put my foot down and tell them what I will and will not do or pay for…take it or leave it…it’s MY pet!!

  3. Our vet doesn’t do any of these things thank goodness. I have had trouble with the reception staff on occasion but the vet staff are awesome.

  4. I had a nurse manhandle Dante one time, it made me really angry especially when she told me “needed” to be muzzled. I basically told her to never touch my dog again, and then it went in our file to not ever work with her again. I love my vet but that was not a good experience, and ever since then Dante’s been a bit funny about going in to the vet. We’ve got it all figured out now though, I move him around handle him etc.. the vet does what she needs to and we don’t have any issues!

  5. We love our vets, luckily. They are holistic and use both traditional and alternative medicine. We have had some other vets before we found this practice hat we just did not like.

  6. We took our fur babies to the vets once a year (or if they needed to go we went sooner) so this was an eyeopening post. Sharing this with my friend so she can know what to look out for when she takes the pup in for his yearly visit.

  7. These things are annoying. I had to switch Vets after one told me to have a major surgery for my cat or put him down. He’s fine, happy and healthy 3 years later!

  8. All annoying. I don’t have a dog but we’ve had some of this same issues when it comes to my cat.

  9. We have a vet we like for our cats… but in the 13 years that we’ve had our dog, we have YET to find one that we like. Not to say that they’re bad vets, but we’re just not completely sold.

  10. My friend is currently looking for a quality vet for her dog. She has experienced most of the things that are listed above.

  11. we have a fairly new dog and have a great relationship with our vet that we found. I do however when NOT hesitate for a minute to leave if I thought my dog’s best interest was not being taken into consideration.

  12. Nothing is ever perfect. The important thing is whether it can be worked out and whether it is worth it to bother working it out.

    We loved Jasmine’s vet, in fact I still consult with him and next Tuesday cookie is going all the way south to get her PRP treatment with him.

    I really like our vet in our new location; after all I handpicked her after a lot of work. She’s quite great and she’s trying really hard to learn to work with me.

    Are either of them perfect? Nope. But pretty darn close enough.

    1. That is pawsome that you found a vet that is darn close to what you want. I hated having to switch after many, many years but it was necessary.

  13. Yep, the bottom line is it’s your pet. You have the right to agree or disagree with anyone, even the vet if you think it’s in the best interest of your dog.

  14. Love my vet, he listens to me and he explains things so they are easy to understand. He cried when we had to have Buster put to sleep.

    He has helped me with Jack’s diabetes.

    His wife is his receptionist. When took Lucy in for first time, she came over and hugged on her. They are both in there 60’s, I hate the day they have to retire.

    1. I am so glad you have a good vet, June. They are so hard to come by. I cringe at retirement day, too, for my vet – we recently switched as you know.

  15. Awesome list – I like it! I know my vet very well since I was able to be her assistant for several years. Like read her mind well haha. She is perfect! One thing I’d also say could go along with the Euthanasia bullying is when a vet does not tell you honestly about the chances of a pet’s survival. While they should be willing to go as far as you want for your pet, I did work with one vet who I believe gave a lot of false hope to clients.

  16. I have refused appointments with certain vets because I don’t agree with their bedside manner. If they are rough with my boys, I take them and leave. I have recently learned to say no to our vet about certain vaccines and it is very liberating. Great post, Carol. ☺

    1. Good for you. We had to leave our vet of many years due to radical changes in his behavior and as sad as it made me, I could not stay with a vet I did not feel was giving my dog the care he deserves. Glad to hear that you are saying no when you know it’s right for the dogs.

  17. I am blessed that I don’t experience any of this with my Vet. I always say our Vet is an “Angel from God.” He even gave me his number years ago when Bobo was ill and tells me I can text him anytime. I don’t abuse it, but there are times I needed him or needed to send him a photo at an obscure time and he always is gracious and attentive. When Cody was ill and he was out of town, as soon as he heard Cody was ill he went to an area where he had phone service so that he could call me (even though one of the associates was treating Cody in his absence), and he saved us a FORTUNE of money because when I told him what tests we were told by the emergency clinic that he “needed”, he said there were at least two he could do that Monday in his office (this was on a Saturday), that would cost TONS less and he also had said a few of the tests they were recommending were completely unnecessary. We ADORE him and always show him that we do too.

    1. Caren, can we clone that vet? He sounds fantastic. I am happy that we found a vet that so far, so good. We had to switch after well over a dozen years because the vet totally changed. And you have to feel like your pet’s best interests are at heart. It sound like your furkids have a fantastic professional! Thanks for sharing.

  18. This is a good read. I thought about all the Vets I have had in my life. The first one for my cat ( back in the 80s) was terrific but the front office staff wasn’t. He had stomach cancer and the Vet understood that we wanted to say our goodbyes. We didn’t have him for very long as we recently adopted him less than a year before.
    The second Vet was for my Dalmatian Cookies in the late 90’s. He kept on asking me if I was going to breed her and kept remarking how her topline was not good everytime we had an appointment. The last straw was when he matter-of-factly announces she , as a puppy, had a heart murmur. No explaination about puppy murmurs. My (late) husband was going thru medial testings at the time, so he suggested to seek a second opinion. Found another Vet close by and made it very clear that I wanted the 2nd opinion. He took the time out to explain about puppies & murmurs without making me feel stupid about being a first time dog parent. Guess who became our Vet for several years? He would give me the medical terminology of a condition because he knew I would go search online for more info to understand it better. He retired. Sold his practice and many of the clients sought another Vet. I went once to this new Vet. His bedside manner was not saying anything about what he was going to do – take a sample, etc. was so different. His wife hovered over the receptionist. Their 8-10 y/o daughter was holding and playing with kittens in the reception area, you know, where we pet parents /pets had to wait.

    Began my new search and found this great Vet practice! They patiently guided me thru: The Bandit’s CHF progression ( referred me to a Vet Cardiologist) and Miss Cookies’s ailments ( referred me to UC Davis Vet for further tests). and the conditions that Miss Cherie developed in the short time she was with me. Now that there are my two cats here, this practice is just as wonderful with them as they were with the dogs.
    I apologize for the lengthy post. I just wanted to say, yes, by all means, please consider changing Vets if they do not make you feel comfortable.
    Thanks Carol for a great article!

    1. I so love that you shared a lengthy reply, as I learn from all of these comments so very much.

      It is really difficult to see all the articles online bashing pet parents and their “stupidity” at the vet and towards the vet. I definitely have encountered less than stellar professionals in all walks of life, and that includes veterinary medicine.

      SO glad that you have a practice you like and can trust, Edna! Thanks for weighing in.

  19. Great post. I work with three veterinarians with my dogs; or I worked. I stopped taking our dogs to a traditional vet, because he wormed our dogs without cause or permission. He didn’t charge me for the worming, but I wish he would have asked me first.

    I used to be afraid to speak up to veterinarians, but I’ve learned to be my dogs’ advocate. Today, we work with great vets.

    1. Gosh he definitely should have asked you. Kimberly, do you find you have more of a choice and selection in veterinarians based on the area in which you reside? I ask because I am in a smaller town, a little over 2 hours from NYC, but I travel an hour each way to our regular vet.

  20. These things drive me up a wall as a cat parent too. I really hate it when veterinarians treat me like I’m stupid and wouldn’t understand things if they explained them to me. I look at my cats’ veterinarian the same way I look at my human doctor – they are being paid for their expert advice. The advice is no good if you don’t explain it. It is also my choice whether or not I want to take their advice. Doctors can be wrong sometimes!

    1. Amen, Robin: Doctors can be wrong sometimes is spot on. I totally concur that advice is no good if the vet does not take the time to break it down.

  21. Excellent article! You really need to advocate for your pet. Recently one of our Veterinarians insisted on a heartworm antigen test before selling me heartworm medication, which I was running out of. Afterwards he insisted I use the brand of heartworm meds he was selling vs. the major brand I’ve used for years. He claimed his was far better and that he didn’t know where I’d be able to purchase my usual brand – THE BEST known brand on the market! Time to ditch that Vet & find someone who won’t hard sell me on the brands they are peddling!

  22. We don’t have any of these issues with our vet. Though she doesn’t always buy into alternative medicine…but she never makes the mom feel bad if she wants to try it. Guess we’re lucky.

  23. We go to a different vet every time. So far, we have not found an honest vet. Vets lie so they can profit greatly by selling an unneeded treatment for our dog. One of the worst lies was telling us dog knee braces do not work and instead trying to sell tplo surgery for a torn ccl acl knee joint and wanted to make an appt at a referral tplo surgeon for $5000 +. We said no and did our own internet research and ended up buying a posh dog knee brace and our large dog healed in a few months from a fully torn ccl acl tear. Our dog never needed surgery at all, but the vet lied saying dog knee braces do not work, just because they wanted the huge reward or referral fee from the tplo surgeon. We know from our own experience that dog knee braces really work and are guaranteed to never cause an infection or severe side effects like tta or tplo surgery. Fortunately we have the internet and after reading many comments about the nightmares from tplo or tta surgery, we chose a dog knee brace which really works and is a much safer alternative to painful debilitating unnecessary surgery.

  24. Our vet and I don’t always see eye to eye on everything. However, he gives his opinion but always leaves the decisions up to us. Even if he doesn’t agree with it, he always respects it.
    I am not sure if there is someone there overnight, I don’t think there is all the time, but I think someone checks in. But he never keeps any of the animals overnight unless it’s absolutely necessary.

  25. Great Post! It is so hard, especially when you are dealing with what you (the pet-parent) considers an extreme problem. It’s not easy to keep your wits about you, as you just want your fur-baby to get well. Thank you for telling us that it okay to say no, it’s okay to leave the vets office and find someone else. I’m a firm believer that I know my dog better than the vet does. This will help so many pet parents. Thanks for sharing!

  26. Wow Carol, I couldn’t agree more with the things in your list!
    I am a vet, and it was so nice reading through the positive comments people made about their vets.
    I’ve been in this job a long time now, and I truly believe most of being the best vet I can be comes down to compassion and communication. Sure, knowledge is important (and I’m a science geek anyway!), but it’s all about being able to work together as the vet-pet-pet parent triangle.
    I would never put anything but my patients best interests first, and it horrifies me to think anyone would..
    I love to give them some time to relax and get to know me and the room before I even make eye contact with them, let alone touch them – I need to collect the history anyway so it’s a great chance for nervous pets to calm down and relax a little. It’s not always possible, but it’s always my goal to have a pet who will come to me and take treats from my hand or accept some affection before they leave. Bedside manner is so important.
    I think vets should take the time to discuss things in detail and ensure all questions or concerns are addressed before ending the consultation. It’s about working together to find the best outcome, not about one party telling the other what to do/not do.
    All appropriate options should be offered for consideration, from gold standard ideal-world diagnostics and treatment down to simply trialling a treatment that is likely to work in that given situation (depending on the situation of course!).
    Just my 2 cents 🙂
    Big hugs to Dexter!

  27. i went to a dog event today, took my oldest who is near the end of her life, she is almost 15 yrs old, deaf, lost some vision, has some back issues, which cause her to walk very slow, a little dementia. but she sees the homeopathic vet on a reg basis, is on meds, evie has a very strong will to live. she has not lost her appetite, gets mad when i dont feed her on time, still likes to play some, loves to be outside, etc. even the vet said she is doing okay. however, at the event this man said he put his dog down, per the vet’s recommendation. she was 13. the vet told him it was time so that he could remember her while she was still a happy dog. i asked him why. he said she had problems walking. i asked why he did not get a wheelchair or some other method to help her. he said his son did that with his dog and he did not feel it was right to prolong a dog’s life just for that. my problem with this is if the dog is happy and not in pain, why would you let the vet tell you to put the dog down? he made me feel that i was prolonging my girl’s life b/c i was being selfish. i admit i will do anything to prolong her life, if she is not in pain and has a strong will to live. even the vet said she is okay. why would you put down a dog if she is not suffering and is happy? just b/c she is old? this has bothered me all day.

  28. This is the BEST thing I’ve read on the subject. Ever. You are spot on with every one of these warnings, and I can’t even pick a favorite they are so all on target. For 16 years, I’ve written extensively on consumer issues regarding incompetent, negligent and abusive vets, and I have run into every one of these from fellow vet victims who write me about the very bad vets who harmed or killed their pets. I’ve only met one monstrous vet in my entire life (five of his red flags are in your article) but once was enough to cost me my most precious companion.

    Now I and many other advocates educate pet parents on protecting their pets at the vet’s, and how to navigate the state vet board systems when filing a complaint against a negligent vet. Legally, the deck is stacked against victims but with increased awareness things are slowly changing. Although some vets are unhappy with the increased scrutiny by consumers and continue to viciously retaliate against advocates both online and IRL, we know that knowledge is power and we will never stop informing the public of what they need to know about the very real problems in the veterinary profession that put people’s family members at risk every day. Thank you for adding to that knowledge base so brilliantly! Am sharing this on the Veterinary Abuse Network’s Facebook page and am prepared for the inevitable backlash and tired old attacks by tired old BadVets. Bring it on!

    Thanks again for a very valuable read. This will be a go-to staple for me and many others. Well done.

  29. This is a very helpful article to encourage pet owners to speak up for their pets and not feel intimidated by the veterinarian. As a first time pet owner, I was appalled by the arrogant attitude of the vets I encountered. The pet belongs to me and no vet has the right to decide for my pet or make decisions for my pet unless it is a life-threatening emergency and i could not be reached. My little one isn’t a dog but I can definitely relate with other pet owners. I like this article.

  30. As a licensed Vet Tech at one of the most caring, compassionate and knowledgeable small animal hospitals on the planet I have to say……if even just one of these traits exists you need to find another vet.

  31. My Mya, 12 year old Stafford shire a terrier is fighting lymphoma. I wish a searched a few specialists for I nit thrilled at all with her Oncologist…first. they don’t let you be with your pet when she is being examined and given treatment, vet doesn’t even speak with you but you get charged for a vet visit. Her cancer is back after only being off chemo for two months and I decided no more chemo. I asked her oncologist to help me with what type of diet and supplements will help…her reply..we have a nutritionist so after paying thousands og dollars…go pay 300.00 for that info or oh well good luck. I wish I went to a holistic and modern med specialist. All the info you read out there is so confusjng, wish after spending all that money something as simple of what her diet should be should be addressed. Nope she said that she gives treatment, that is it and if I put her on a raw diet, she won’t be allowed in the building. HUH???? WELL WHEN I ASKED, THEN WHST DO YOU SUGGEST? I HAVE TO GO VERY MEANLY..I HAVE PATIENTS…

  32. I guess I am pretty lucky becasue I have never run into these issues with my vet! I feel sorry for pet parents who have had to deal with these issues 🙁 Time to find a new vet if this happens to you.

  33. I stopped going to a vet who every time I went tried suggestive selling everything from collars to food to me, even calling me with special offers to bring my dog in to try the new machine they got, she also had a policy that ALL dogs in her practice had to be on heartworm meds, meds she just happened to sell too. It’s good to be on heartworm meds but I don’t like a clinic REQUIRING it!
    Last straw was when she flat out refused to acknowlege owner administerd vaccinations, she said the vaccine I bought from Foster & Smith VERTERINARY suppy was “cheap” vaccine! say WHAT??? there’s only a few vaccine makers and they supply ALL the vets and clinics.

  34. Switching to a Homeopathic/Holistic Vet after an awful experience with a completely arrogant vet and disorganized staff. The rudeness by the vet was astounding. Never again. Stay away from traditional Vets unless your pet needs surgery. Seek out an alternative Vet.

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