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7 Things That Veterinarians Say That Drive Pet Owners Crazy

By Dr. Andrew Jones

Could it be so that perhaps veterinarians don’t know everything about your pets? Being a former practicing veterinarian, and now online animal health advocate gives me a fairly unique perspective. As a profession, we have our downfalls; this article will give you the top 7.

1. Crappy people skills. This is more about what vets don’t say- as in nothing. How about the veterinarian and their staff making good eye contact when any client comes to the office and making pet owners feel welcome. I have had many clients say they have felt un-important and not acknowledged at a veterinary clinic. Imagine the veterinarian introducing him or herself, saying your name, and your pet’s name. Unfortunately people skills are not one of those traits selected for at veterinary school- yes as a veterinarian you can be great with animals, have superior medical or surgical skills, but you still need to be able to talk to pet owners.

2. I Know So Many Medical Words. The newly graduated I know so much that I must speak in ‘medical term’ lingo is a veterinarian you may know. These veterinarians feel the need to impress you with all the big words that they know. Unfortunately this is very difficult to understand and a major source of miscommunication. You may be asking yourself after the veterinary visit: “What did the vet say?” To have pet owners comply with their suggestions, veterinarians need to be able to properly explain what is wrong with clients pets in ‘regular’ terms. For instance I suggest that vets do not use the term phytobezoar, when they could say the word hairball.

3. Too many recommendations. So what does your pet really need? 13 different blood tests, heartworm screen, fecal flotation, urinalysis, X-rays, EKG, all justified as ‘wellness’ screening. If a pet is sick, most clients want vets to do the most important tests first in order to figure out the cause. Clients want veterinarians to start with some common sense and give a list of the most likely diagnoses. Ask your veterinarian exactly what they do for so called ‘wellness screening’ for their own pets. In my experience most veterinarians only do diagnostic tests on their own animals when they are sick. Should this really be different with their clients?

4. Home diets, Raw Food and those overpriced ‘All Natural’ Diets are a waste of time and can Harm your pet. Perhaps, but likely not. Millions of dogs and cats around the world are eating raw food and thriving…and ‘gasp’ the food is not balanced. Veterinarians and veterinary food companies still claim that dry, carbohydrate loaded kibble is ‘fine’, yet a growing body of evidence is showing how this is harming our pets. Diabetes is directly linked to these dry kibble diets, yet most veterinarians are still advising that you feed primarily these to your pets.

5. Realistic estimates. Veterinary care is expensive, some clinics far more than others. Staff salaries have gone up, equipment such as digital X-ray is pricy, and superior care costs. Fair enough. But pet owners routinely find themselves shocked at the reception desk when they go to pick up Fluffy from a dental, expecting a bill for $250.00 and getting one for $799. Prior to doing anything extra ensure that the veterinarian talks to you first, so you can at least give verbal consent. As well, it would sure help if veterinarians understand that many clients really don’t have the extra funds, so at times please give the less expensive option. For example most cat abscess don’t require surgery, yet many clients report that when they bring their cat to a clinic for an abscess, they are only given surgery as an option.

6. Holistic Care isn’t all bad. Many veterinarians have a strong aversion to ‘natural’ veterinary care, they suspect that it really does not work and let their clients know. Pet owners want their pets healed, without side effects, and natural remedies can often do this. Pet owners are increasingly using natural remedies, with over 50% have used some form of complementary medicine. Of particular note, holistic veterinary medicine has a large number of credible scientific studies that back its effectiveness. Take for instance the herb turmeric, which has been shown to be increasingly effective for allergies, arthritis and now even cancer; clients find that it works, and now science is backing this up. Clients are actively researching the internet for any available option to treat whatever disease their pets may have, and being exposed to far more alternative treatments. Ultimately as veterinarians it would be far better to become your clients trusted advisors on all aspects of their pets care, holistic and conventional.

7. Just give me the Truth. As in what vaccines does my dog or cat really need? What do you really think is wrong with pet? Pet owners want the ‘real’ answers, whether it is bad news about a diagnosis, or what vaccines you think are needed. As an example, many veterinarians are giving their own pets far fewer vaccines than they advise giving to their client’s animals. Or consider after an exam of your dog, your veterinarian finds multiple enlarged lymph nodes. For fear of ‘scaring’ you, your veterinarian may tell you that ‘it’s just a lump we need to test’. This confuses clients, and breeds mistrust, the exact opposite that I think veterinarians want to communicate. Key to any type of long term success in veterinary practice is establishing a mutual relationship with your clients based on trust. If clients trust you then they are far more likely to accept your recommendations, refer more clients to you, and have your practice thrive. Win-Win.

Heal Your Pet At Home!

Best Wishes,

Dr Andrew Jones, DVM


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Topics: Cat Care, Cat Health, Dog Care, Dog Health, Pet Care, Pet health | 15 Comments »

15 Responses to “7 Things That Veterinarians Say That Drive Pet Owners Crazy”

  1. Avatar Sandra Says:
    November 16th, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    I boarded my dog at the veterinary hospital for two weeks while I was on vacation. When I picked her up, she had a very bad cough. Even though she has always received her kennel cough vaccine, it sounded to me like kennel cough. I took her back to the vet to have her checked – they did x-rays and said she had collapsed trachea, but put her on antibiotics. I got a second opinion – she did NOT have collapsed trachea. She had kennel cough. And I spent many, many hundreds of dollars on the x-rays and other diagnostic tests (as well as the boarding fees, of course). I felt they were covering themselves, not wanting to admit she had contracted kennel cough in their facility. I frequently feel that I am spending unnecessary money with them.


  2. Avatar Paul Syrett Says:
    November 16th, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    I am in the UK and I do not trust vets as most are purely business people in it for the money. Vaccinations, this is purely money based and the giant drug companies are behind them all the way. When I was young, we had a terrier cross breed. She never went to the vet (in our village there wasn’t one), was fed on scraps and cheap tinned dog food (Chappie) and made it to 17 years old.
    Kibble> I do feed my to English Pointer (rescues) kibble but as a filler with either raw food, or a casserole I have cooked for them or maybe a can of tuna, plus a few table spoons of cooked cabbage (and a scoop of the ultitmate canine supplement).
    I took one of the Pointers for stitching (barbed wire at speed and my wife wouldn’t let me stitch him myself). Once done, a small gash needing for stitches he prescribed anti-biotics which I declined (more harm than good, but made money for the vet).

    Vets need reigning in, there is no competition, they charge the same or similar wherever you go.

  3. Avatar Mary Emmons Says:
    November 16th, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    I am so glad that my vet doesn’t fall under any of these categories, but then again I live in a small town and that might have something to do with it. She also has a partner there that is into the holistic healing so if I have a question about supplements or what to give my dog to help with his arthritis or imuune problems she is up front and tells me that she does not do much holistic healing, but her partner does and then the other vet will call me and we can go over ideas in length (for free). They know my dogs and me by name and look forward to seeing my AB all the time as they all love him. I had 4 MCT’s removed off of him last year,and sent for lab work, Xray of his hip and knee to make sure he didn’t have something serious going on and my bill was under $350. I think that is more than reasonable. I am so thankful for my vet and would love to give a shout out to Bavarian Village Veternarian. . .Kathy rocks!

  4. Avatar Mary Emmons Says:
    November 16th, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Oh and I also forgot to mention that she only recommends vacinnations every 4 years.

  5. Avatar Jana Says:
    November 16th, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    I always greatly enjoy Dr. Jones’ articles. I have also purchased his “Veterinary Secrets” which I highly recommend to every responsible pet carer. My dog adopted me and chose me to be his carer while I was in Mexico. Before he became my bestest friend, he already suffered enough – car accident, three attacks by a pitbull and a kick into his leg which caused complicated fracture. Luckily, the Mexican VET was qualified also in homeopatic medicine and as surgery was out of question we have taken the “alternative” way. Four years later and I still cannot thank him enough. From Mexico we had to move to Japan since Australia (our final destination) doesn’t accept dogs from Mexico. In Japan I consulted over 40 VETs (yes, I am doing my research thoroughly before I trust) but none had any idea about alternative/integrative medicine and they were completely against even raw food (!) My dog had to have many vaccinations before he was allowed to enter Australia and he developed a huge lump as an reaction to leptospirosis vaccination. The lump was a size of a pinpong ball and it freaked me out. Luckily it dissolved after 7 days. Unless it is absolutely necessary I am avoiding vaccinations at all costs.

  6. Avatar Wendy Says:
    November 16th, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    I can totally identify with 5 of your 7 things that vets do to drive me crazy! Great article, thank goodness I found an amazing holistic vet in my area who helped me through some tragic times with a dog who had bone cancer and did not recommend a $20,000 amputation and chemo process as the only form of treatment.(my regular vet did make this recommendation and said there was no alternative) As people read your article I hope they also see the parallel with doctors … there are always options even if your vet or doctor do not agree you can seek them out.

    Thank you Dr. Jones for taking a stand, for your great website and wonderful advice.

    Wendy in Burlington, Ontario

  7. Avatar Marja Says:
    November 16th, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    Whew! I’ve defended myself since 2008 against “interventionist” veterinarians. I’ll tell you why in a minute, but first, my lines of defense:

    If vet says something I don’t understand: “Can you please define xxxxx for me? How is that affecting my cat?”

    If vet recommends something [anything]: “How will this help my cat? What is satisfactory compared with what is ‘IDEAL’?”

    I am intelligent, clear on what I want and don’t want and do research on these things. I’m assertive [not bossy]. I discourage unnecessary tests b/c of the costs; I request the vet do only the tests most likely to give a result, e.g., if my cat has a lump, do we need to do an x-ray or can we palpate it to see if it’s a cyst first?

    “What will it cost?”

    “I am on a limited budget.”

    “I prefer to be told all of my options.”

    “If my pet is severely ill and would need thousands of dollars worth of care, I will do ‘hospice at home’.”

    And here’s why I will do hospice at home for my very ill cats in future:

    In 2008 my Holmes, who was 16, went into renal failure. Why? There are many possibilities, but part of it may have been because he’d been on Metacam for months, for arthritis. No one told me Metacam could have this side effect.

    He began yowling pretty often, and hanging out in the closet. I took him to the vet and they told me he was in the early stages of renal failure. Stupidly I did not ask “how long might he have?” Instead I asked if it was fatal. “Well, yes, but he might have some time … we’ll provide you some hydration formula in a drip bag. Just hook him up with this and drip x amount into the nape of his neck.” At that time, I did not think to ask, “How much time will this ‘buy’ my cat? Months? Weeks? Days?”

    One night he had a crisis and I took him to the vet’s emergency clinic. At that time I had some money to spare. Not afterward.

    I left him there – he was in their ICU for a couple of days. I came to see him daily.

    I don’t remember if I received a call from them the evening he passed away. All I remember is walking in to the ICU and finding my Holmes on the emergency care table, an IV drip in his foreleg, dead. He died without me there.

    I still get teary when I think about this incident. My Holmes did not deserve to die without his person present. He did not deserve to die in an emergency setting.

    This misadventure cost me, I think, $1800. Luckily I had the money.

    Had I been informed how little time he had to live, I would have chosen euthanasia, about 5 days earlier. It would have been much kinder than all the intervention he received, and for what? To live miserably for several more days!

    A few weeks later I was at the vet and made extra clear to them how angry and how sad I was about this. I said, “If any cat of mine is near death in future, please let me know, specifically. Please do not tell me he can get on ‘for a while’ unless it’s over a month. I do not ever, EVER want to put a cat through that again! I want to be offered the option of euthanasia – do you understand?” The vet I spoke to (who was a different vet from the one who had treated Holmes, but was in the same veterinary practice) gave me hug and said she would never, never do that. and that was the end of it. In fact, I stayed with that vet for a couple more years, and then fell on rather hard financial times.

    I now see an excellent vet at a practice where they allow pet parents to write post-dated checks so we can get our pets seen and space out our payments, without using credit cards (I can’t use them). Because I am an assertive pet parent I get only the absolutely necessary care.

    I have one cat who has a growth on her tongue. Since it is not possible to biopsy without taking the lump (and destroying her tongue) the vet advised against treatment, because cats cannot live without their tongues. I pray that she has a while [because she is a little bossypants personality kid of a cat] and that she continues to have a good quality of life. When that deteriorates, I will do what is necessary because I no longer believe in “interventionist” overpriced and misery-making ‘care’. I want her to die with dignity – the same kind of death I want for myself.

    So, be as informed as you can be when you visit the vet.

    Ask specific questions.

    Make clear your desires and your feelings about certain things.

    I certainly have, and will continue to do so. I inform myself with Dr. Jones’s excellent articles and publications, and other sources [to forewarn myself what the “typical” vet will say].

    I speak for my pets because they can’t speak to the vet.

    God bless ya, Dr. Jones, and may you enjoy vindication in the future for being informative and open about non-allopathic remedies.

    And blessings to all who’ve lost pets to misguided vets.

  8. Avatar Tanya Says:
    November 16th, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    My cat got his third rabies vaccine (I let the vet talk me into it even though I was onboard with Dr. Jones and questioned if it was necessary). A month later my cat had a reaction at the injection site that resulted in a $800+ surgery. The owner of the clinic, a vet, is trying to pressure me into more rabies shots for my strictly indoor cats. He says it’s the law. Well, send in the rabies police… I am now refusing all vaccines. I took the other older cat for a teeth cleaning and spend hundreds. They always want a battery of blood work for ‘older cats’. It costs more than a blood test for me and I don’t have health insurance. They are questioning me about not bringing in the first cat for a wellness check. I think we’re doing quite alright without the vet’s wellness check. I check my cats’ wellness every day.

    I feed natural, meat/vegetable diet–no grains.

  9. Avatar Mary Says:
    November 16th, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    I appreciate the insight. With our current vet, the vet and assistants are caring and don’t speak in medical terms; however, the reception staff could use some lessons in dealing with people. You walk in the door and they barely look at you. There is one that has a nice disposition but the other two I’ve seen can be a bit rude. With the majority of my dogs being rescues, I don’t have much to spend on excessive vet care so a holistic approach is generallly the way we go unless a dog is not gaining/losing weight, has vomiting, bloody stools, etc.

  10. Avatar Kathi Says:
    November 16th, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    I am reading an e-book that I highly recommend to ALL pet-owners. “Local Veterinarian: What Every Pet Owner Needs to Know” by Jason Wall. What an eye-opener. I love Dr. Jones’ for promoting alternatives to prescription drugs. It is true – most vets (not all) are in it for the money and they will pad their bills with unnecessary expenses, lab work, etc. Recently, a cat had crystals in his urine and several bladder blockages. Each time he was catheterized and given DRY high-salt cat food for the crystals. Finally, after taking this moaning kitty to the vet 3 different times – I desperately searched for an alternative solution and discovered the benefits raw food, canned food diet changes and apple-cider vinegar in the drinking water with a little cranberry (powder from capsules worked fine) in the water. I would syringe this into the cat’s mouth and also made sure another bowl of pure water was available for drinking. The apple-cider vinegar dissolved the crystals and immediately stopping dry foods and going to canned and raw eliminated the crystals from forming in the first place. I find it inexecusable that an emergency vet clinic and a regular vet did not bother to suggest these cheap and simple options over the catheters and dry food that makes crystals form. Please research EVERYTHING for your animals even having your animals euthanized and cremated!! I’m in complete agreement with Dr. Jones about “healing your pet at home”!! Thanks for making your “Veterinary Secrets Manual” so affordable and downloadable to Kindles and Iphones!

  11. Avatar Karen Says:
    November 17th, 2012 at 1:18 am

    I am in the UK and do not trust vets either for all of the reasons in your article.

    My biggest gripe at the moment is the lack of people skills. I am fed up with vets who just want to tell me what to do, without explaining the reasons or other options, and who seem to have no compassion for me or my dog. I am fed up with the way they handle my dog, pushing and pulling him around, to extent that one time he nearly fell over, when they could achieve exactly the same thing by being more gentle and sympathetic. One vet told me my dog “needed to be more cooperative” just after he’d had a stroke! At least, I highly suspected my dog had had a stroke but the vet in his wisdom told me dogs don’t have strokes and not to worry about it (patronising much?). I took him to see a neurologist who agreed with me that my dog had indeed had a stroke. I have many, many stories like this I could tell.

    I absolutely dread going to the vet these days because I find it so stressful. I don’t think vets like knowledgeable clients who have done their research and dare to have their own opinions. I’ve found that most vets don’t like to be questioned. The term “God Complex” comes to mind.

    Thank goodness for Dr Jones and others like him who are helping to change things.

  12. Avatar Juanna Omar Says:
    November 18th, 2012 at 9:19 am

    Last year I brought my cat named Angel Didi a few times to the vet but unfortunately he never recovered. Till now I’ve no idea what he was suffering of. For more than 3 months I had to force-feed him because he completely stopped eating despite of the appetite stimulant prescribed by the vet. One day Angel Didi suddenly collapsed. I brought him again to the vet. They said he might not be able to make it. They suspected he suffered liver failure or other serious disease. It was too late to do blood test as Angel Didi already had a seizure. I tried herbal food like turmeric and parsley but I guess it was too late. A few weeks later Angel Didi died. The vet should have suggested blood tests or any tests to determine his sickness earlier on when the appetite stimulant didn’t work on him. If he suffered liver failure the least they can do was checked his bad breath. Vets should know better what they should do.

  13. Avatar Margarite Brown Says:
    November 18th, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    Hi, Had not needed the vet in a while, so no vacs for about 4 years so he wanted to vaccinate. When I said to the vet that I did not want any more vaccinations for my 11 and 14 year old dogs he replied that some people never vaccinate their children.
    My first dog had all the vaccinations and died at 12 on the operating table due to bleeding from a back leg amputation attempt. Cancer.
    Also,in her past: Two separate cruciate ligament operations, severe flea allergy dermatitis.

  14. Avatar Lynn K Allen Says:
    November 20th, 2012 at 12:36 am

    The problem I most object to is having to take my pet, either a dog, or a cat, to the vet and having to sit in a waiting room with lots of other animals of various sizes and temperaments being not controlled by their owners. This is not where I want to take a sick cat, or a sick dog to be waiting in a fearful situation. I do not understand why they can not have waist high walls allowing the dogs and cats some security. I also am afraid of getting injured by others pets that they can not control. It is a dangerous circus sometimes. I have often left rather than wait. It is an indication of their awareness, and I take a hint.

  15. Avatar Sylvia Says:
    December 3rd, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Since I started following your advices…no need to go to the vet.
    And a good advice from an holistic doctor. For your dog Jessie’s licking at night problem, use the Aloe plant. Just cut a leaf and let it drop a yellow substance tha it has , during the night and then
    peal it and apply it to the affecte part. It soothes, refreshes, desinfects and calm the itching of your dog. And since it’s natural it’s even good for his stomach. Try it!


Dr. Andrew Jones, DVM