Six Things You May Be Surprised To Learn About Your Veterinarian

1.  It Is All About The Animals

Veterinarians became animal doctors, because we got a rush saving that baby bird who fell from the tree when we were six.  Our mothers sighed in resignation when we raised our fifth litter of stray kittens in our bedrooms.  They were, thankfully, delighted with the five times in our young lives when our rooms were clean, as we proved how responsible we could be.  We were the only kids in school who liked science projects and enjoyed learning how the heart pumps blood through arteries, capillaries, and veins.

2.  We Do Talk To The Animals

We communicate with our patients through reading their body language, performing a physical exam, running diagnostic tests, and speaking to you.  As the pet parent, you know what “normal” looks like on your pet.  As the veterinarian, we are responsible for interpreting the changes you see (and occasionally don’t see) to keep your pet healthy and happy.  You may think your pet is showing signs of his age when he doesn’t jump onto the bed anymore.  By “talking” to him-by feeling his joints and spine, listening to his whimpers, watching the expression in his eyes, we can tell you that he’s actually in pain from arthritis.  Best of all, we can usually help relieve some or all of that pain.

3.  We Know More Than Dr. Google

Many veterinarians are a bit nerdy and introverted.  We “get” animals.  People?  Not so much. We don’t hide our surprise very well when you are super wrong about diagnosing your slightly plump, two year-old cat’s liver shunt after she threw up twice yesterday-because you read all about it on the internet.  Sometimes, a hairball is just a hairball. There’s a really good chance that we know what we are talking about, but successful veterinarians learn to share their passion for veterinary medicine with their clients.  We want to help you use the internet to find good information concerning topics like nutrition and digestive health in cats.  We hope to gain your respect by combining our enthusiasm for your pet’s well-being with the latest medical knowledge and some really neat surgical skills.

4.  We Lose Sleep Over Your Pets

Veterinarians do not “turn off” caring about our patients when we leave the hospital.  I cannot count how many nights over the last twenty-plus years that I have stayed awake at night worrying about a cat being able to pee without pain or a dog diagnosed with cancer. My fiancé can’t tell you how many vacation days I have stopped by the clinic “just to check” on a patient or see “one appointment”.  My son grew up knowing I would be at his soccer game.  Eventually.  I consider being a veterinarian my vocation, and I admit to being challenged by the balance of my professional and personal time.  All the dedicated vets with whom I am acquainted face similar dilemmas.

5.  We Hate Discussing Money

Veterinarians became doctors to heal sick animals (see Number 1).  Nobody told us when we were saving baby kittens that we would have to charge for our services someday.  Nobody told us that a digital x-ray machine would cost eighty grand or that clients would judge the expertise of our hospital by owning this kind of high-tech equipment.  Advances in veterinary medicine allow us to offer terrific treatments, and we get very excited about telling you what we can do.  Unfortunately, all of this great care does have a cost.  A good veterinarian will give you a solid estimate of fees for service and then be willing to have a frank discussion about what is reasonable for you and your pet.

6.  Sometimes Money Does Not Matter

We are here to advocate for those who cannot speak (see Number 2).  If true pain and suffering are present, all the money in the world may not save a pet’s life or cure her disease. The day may come when we need to be open and honest and tell you that the loving choice to make for your dog or cat is euthanasia.  We hate talking about it and we hate doing it.  Your pet’s life is precious to us, whether we have known you for five minutes or seventeen years.  Because it is all about the animals, we say those tough words and we do what we can to guide you through those tough times.

42 thoughts on “Six Things You May Be Surprised To Learn About Your Veterinarian

  1. I just wanted to say how this lifted my heart. I am in training to be a people doctor and see the dedication to people everyday. I am so happy to see animal doctors are the same. You guys work hard, so thanks for loving our furry babies as much as we do. Sincerely, a cat owner

  2. Thank you Sandy for sharing!
    This is so true..So Proud you have become one of the awesome veterinarians.. hugs

  3. Proud is not the right word to explain our feelings for our daughter, the little girl with curls who from her beginning wanted to be a VET. Her clients will never know the hours that were spent in books studying, while living on a Tropical Island with such an inviting world calling her to come enjoy it. Day or Night we could contact her on the computer and she would put her work on hold to have a chat with home, only to end it with I need to get back to work. Thank you for working so smart, now its the dream you always wanted.

  4. What a great article. It perfectly describes our vet and the delightful, loving young vet, Leah Smith, who posted this on her Facebook page. I know that our pets are more than just clients. Our Shih Tzu is 17 years and 4 months because she is more than just a client. 15 months after being diagnosed with congestive heart failure she is still with us. She may be a little slower when she goes outside and just a bit more cognitively impaired but she definitely has quality to her life. And we still have the privilege to kiss her, pet her and love her. Has this road been costly – sure. But worth every penny. Thanks for the knowledge, patience and loving that make our vets so very special to us and our “kids”!!!!!!!

  5. Preach! good points, also please try very hard as clients to understand that no matter how hard your day was, the staff at the clinic you frequent most likely are having a hard day too, and probably have a euthanasia or a crashing pet as icing on the cake, so please leave the attitude at home out of respect, and we will try to do the same.

  6. This is wonderful. I love the various veterinarians who’ve cared for my animals over the years. While vet care has definitely become more expensive, it has also become so much more sophisticated. I am grateful that my wonderful vets have helped my animals and have been there to guide me with empathy through the tough decision-making times.

  7. This is absolutely true about good vets. There is, unfortunately, a small population of vets who are the dark side of the profession. These are in it strictly for the money, or have become so jaded that the animals are just numbers to them. These veterinarians have many counterparts among human physicians.

  8. Sadly, not all vets adhere to these ideals. Poor judgement is poor judgement. And yes, some vets are greedy, gouging the bill for all they can.

    Vets who make bad choices resulting in the death of a pet should have their licence revoked to prevent them from killing other animals. When vets become overly focused on the treatment of a disease to the point of losing sight of the overall health of the pet, it is time for them to be sanctioned and stopped.

    I know! My puppy and I were victims of an unethical vet resulting in his untimely death. She gives the veterinarian profession a black eye.

  9. I am truly blessed… I am pretty certain most everyone of my clients know these 6 things and my patients & I reap the benefits everyday.
    ♥♥ what I do without question. ☺

  10. I wouldn’t trust ANYONE other than Elm Point with our three furbabies! Dr. Lange and the staff are incredible, talented, caring folks, and I tell everyone I can about Elm Point. Thank you from my heart! – Leslie

  11. Number 7 Most vets are nearly $100,000.00 in debt with student loans by the time they graduate from vet school and their average yearly salary is just a little more that that of a teacher.

  12. I live in Stafford, Virginia, I have been a client of AGAH for about 20 years. This practice has grown and is the best in the area. It is a large practice, but each vet treats every client as if they were the only one there. The staff is as loving, caring and compassionate as the vets. You are usually greeted with a hug then fussing over the fur child begins….hugs, kisses, petting, wet slobber kisses are all in a day’s work for everyone.
    If your fur child is comfortable on the floor… then the vest sits on the floor, if your fur child is anxious and is more comfortable outside… then the vet will go outside. In other words… the vet treats the fur child where they are. If in the course of time your fur child has to cross over, you will not be alone. In this practice you can go to the Comfort room. There is a private door and you can stay in that room with your beloved fur child. No rush, no hurry. You can either take your baby home by a private exit or left and be cremated. You can also ask the vet to help your fur child cross over outside if need be. Over the course of years, several of my own fur children have crossed over, and it is just as hard for the vets and staff as it is on me. These people grow to love each and every fur or feathered child like they are theirs. They cry and weep with you. This practice has no problem referring to another specialty practice if need be. There is a phenomenal holistic vet in my area, and I have used her for her expertise in acupuncture and chiropractic treatments. How did I find out about her.. my vet told me and suggested that I go to her. This is what a veterinary should be…These gifted men and women work long hours. .. They get bitten, pooped, peed, and puked on. All in a days work…. then come back and do it all again. Yes.. it can get pricey… but I wouldn’t trade AGAH for all the money in the world. I love and respect each and every person in that practice. They are like family.
    Thank you Gretchen, for having vision and making your vision a reality for us.

  13. The next time you complain how expensive it is to go to the vet, try to remember what your last hospital bill was. And before insurance covered it. I remember thinking, “This $600 rabies shot seems a bit pricier than the ones I give the kitties,” when I myself got vaccinated. We are not here to rip you off. We are here to take care of the patients. We love animals. We love MOST of you. If we were in it for the dough, we would have chosen a different field.

    • ^^All of that. I’ve had people remark to me that paying $1,200 to treat one of my cats, Sam, when his bladder was blocked was a lot of money, and they’ve been genuinely surprised when I come right back with, “What are you talking about? That’s totally reasonable, considering everything that was involved. Costs add up, and the cost of veterinary care doesn’t even begin to come close to what human medical care costs. It’s human care that’s the rip-off, not veterinary care.” It’s hard not to get on my soapbox and lecture. I worked for a short time as an LVT (long story why I stopped), and everyone I worked with (that I can remember, at least) was 100% about the animals. A receptionist allowed us to use her German Shepherd for a blood transfusion one crazy Friday night when a dog we were doing a dental on wouldn’t stop bleeding after the vet pulled a molar. Someone suggested a blood transfusion, we actually had the apparatus on hand, so the vet decided to go for it and asked if anyone was willing to let the clinic use their pet. When the dog that wouldn’t stop bleeding was tested later for clotting disorders, it came up positive for one of the less-common ones.

      My Sam recently needed a lot of dental work, and, for that, I had to set up a payment plan because I could only pay for about 60% of the dental work up front. There was the possibility of exposed and infected tooth root involved, so the vet, Dr. Cooperman, was willing to approve the payment plan so Sam could get in to have his mouth worked on. It turned out what she’d thought might be tooth root was infected bone. *shudders* I saw a snow leopard die from an infection that started when a piece of bone pierced the gum and a tract formed from there to the brain. That was a miserable, horrible, painful way to go, and it could have happened to my Sam if the bone infection hadn’t been stopped before it had a chance to spread. I am grateful beyond words to Dr. Cooperman for agreeing to the payment plan.

  14. Our vet, Dr. Randy Wuensche in Denton Texas, embodies the type of vet that you describe.
    We are very thankful for him most of all, for his compassion, and glad that he had the credit to buy the $80000 xray machine.

  15. sometimes the last act of love we can do for our animals is euthanasia… having been in healthcare (two legged type) over 40 years, I find it sad we can’t euthanize people too!

  16. Everything in your six points, above, I understand. You have such a great heart. I thank you, so much, for all the help you have given. You know that my daughter, and I, have an impossible time turning away a pet that has been deserted, or never had a home. Words cannot describe how much we appreciate you. Momma to Weezee, Frady, Boots, and Skotch, and also outside, Momma Kitty, and for awhile, Molly, the Cockerpoo. 🙂 🙂

  17. Well said: and yes, I do get it. If I had the brain and patience needed to go to school I too would love to become a vet. Dr. Amy is an outstanding and caring vet better isn’t possible. I love the fact that she truly loves and cares for our animals as if they were her own. She’s there for the happy times and the not so good ones. We are all blessed to have her in our lives. And to the cost issue I really get that too after all, I am a realist it takes money to run an animal hospital. Not only do you have to pay everyone that works there but all the other over head expenses do add up things that most of us are oblivious to. Amy, we love you and love having you take care of our precious members of our families, you are the best.

  18. I truly believe all of this is true! Just yesterday day, my vet had to tell me “it was time” and I could see as he told me the heart felt concern he had for my situation. He was very kind and understanding. He allowed me to take as much time as I needed to say”good-bye” to my faithful friend of fourteen years.

  19. We started going to the wellness center about 1 yr ago and found that this is the place to bring our animals to for treatment. The Dr had to put down our Jessie and she cried right along with us. They are the best.

  20. Excellent article ! I will post this on my page too. Many do not realize the dedication, learning, experience that come with DVM after someone’s name. I know for I have a Vet who is the exemplar of every thing written above and cherish that she is both willing and able to treat my dogs and cat. Her compassion is boundless even though her hours are long and oft time arduous.
    Thank you for writing this – I’m very sure there is a very special place in heaven for all Vet’s for they treat God’s angel here on earth.

  21. Brings a sense of peace to know…I have been tested here within the last 6 weeks. One of my cats just did not look well, and it seemed like it just literally happened overnight. I took him to a Pet ER where he was diagnosed with cancer and had to have him freed of pain and suffering. Now almost a day shy of a month of this sad occurrence; my cat of 14 yrs had to have a bowel resection, turns out it was a cancerous tumor; Dr. Earl feels he got all the margins but we may have to see other options…but for now I have April at home!
    God bless the Vets and the people who truly love their pets.

  22. I already knew this about you, Dr. Hazlett. That is why I sing your praises every chance I can. I have been so blessed by your loving care for the past 18 yrs. Your care, your compassion and your 6th, 7th and 8th sense have supported me and my animal family in ways that words cannot even begin to say. Thank You.

  23. Good post. What pet owners want vets to always remember, these are our children. We hate taking them to you just as we hate taking our human children to the pediatrician when they are hurting. But we are so grateful that you are so dedicated to your work and our kids. Thank you. What would we do without you?

  24. Miss my vet Dr. Lori Locke since she moved back to Austin, TX. But we’re in good hands with Dr. Steven Lee and Dr. Alfred Stevens. They’re awesome and always listen to us and our boys. Great staff and always willing to listen and help!!!!

  25. I have a wonderful vet and he could have written this article. I, oddly enough did have a cat with a liver shunt. And when my vet met him, he poured over research and articles to learn what he could about liver shunt cats. The cat always was greeted before me when we went for check ups, Hector , the vet would say, you keep me up at night. I worried about my cat incessantly. Drooling, seizures, tics, aggression and all that goes with it. When he was stable and doing well, I still worried. My vet said to me sometimes we have to look past the illness or disease and see how the animal is doing. So we watched my cat wander all around the clinic, on counters, climbing bags of food and checking the place out. My cat was as good as any other normal cat. And when he eventually had to be put down due to cancer ( not anything to do with his liver shunt), my vet cried with me. Great article.

  26. I admire all the work and dedication you do, I have been a vet tech for many years, and know the hours, dedication, and love of animals you have. Thank You all, and thank all those who taught me all that I know, it has made me a better person. I feel that I can make a difference.

  27. Most of my vets have been open honest and did not push beyond their own levels of knowledge base. Once in a while I have run headlong into a person I came to disrespect for not being on the up and up and have walked away from them. They know who they are. I honestly told them to their face.

  28. Dr Kristie Jackson is the most amazing and compassionate doctor. We are so very blessed to have found her for our rescue greyhounds! we thank God for her and keep her in our prayers always!

  29. I feel that having a good “Vet” is like having a good doctor. However we will take most any advice from a doctor to heal ourselves , but for some reason we are more protective about our pets. WE are lucky enough in this country to not pay for that care for the most part. It doesn’t work that way for our animals. So find a Veterinarian who you can communicate with and does their homework. It is not about which clinic gives the best prices, it is about results and an openness to all of your concerns.

  30. Thank you for becoming a vet…unfortunately just loving and caring for animals is not enough to become a vet. You must have grades higher than a physician caring for people. I admire vets more than any other profession in the world and would have loved to had the brain to understand the science and math that one must have to go into being a vet. I get satisfaction from helping with the local animal shelter, feeding, housing, loving and finding homes for unwanted animals. Bless you!

  31. We have watched our daughter, from the time she was big enough to walk, care for everything from an abandoned baby ‘possum’ to mucking out horse stalls. At about age 3, a visitor got a kick out of her coming up to him, a stranger, and saying “Look at this bug I found”. This led to 9 years of college and Vet School. She agonized over many difficult courses, but the worst was “Anatomy”. You think human anatomy is difficult? Try it with the many different species of animals a Vet has to be familiar with. Since becoming a practicing vet, we have seen her cry when talking about having to a put a client’s pet down, and practically go into depression about having to talk to the owner and report this bad news. At the other end of the spectrum, we have heard her talk excitedly about how a blood transfusion saved the life of a puppy with stomach parasites. One thing for sure, the life of a Vet may be exhausting, but it is never dull.

  32. I was a paramedic with Tpa. Fire Rescue, would much rather help animals than people. They are much more appreciative…God bless all who help others at the risk of their own safety and health…

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