"Vet Peeves": What We Do Wrong at the Vet's OfficePublished January 30, 2013
I compiled what I thought was an exhaustive top 10 list of “vet peeves” (the things that we do wrong in and around the exam room at the veterinarian) back in 2008. During a recent disastrous appointment at the vet with Olive I discovered that I might be one of the peevers (more on my embarrassing experience later), so I decided to revisit the “vet peeves” concept and see what else might be missing from my original list. After some coaxing, an honest veterinary technician and veterinarian weighed in with the things that we do to make their jobs more difficult.
1. Everything that relates to restraining your animal.
Restraint is probably the most unpleasant part of a vet visit for both you and your animal, and based on the feedback I received, it can be equally unpleasant for the techs and vets doing it. When it comes to restraint it’s important that we all take a deep breath and take a step back, literally. Hovering near your dog as she’s being restrained (guilty as charged), handling your dog during restraint (guilty as charged), getting in the way of the person trying to restrain your animal, and touching the vet tech or veterinarian as she’s trying to hold on all make the process that much more difficult. As much as you want to comfort your dog during this scary time, understand that it will probably go faster if you let the professionals do their jobs.
2. Not paying attention when discussing post-treatment care.
It’s dumbfounding to me that people zone out when it comes to the most important part of a vet visit: what you have to do once you leave the office in order to make or keep your dog healthy. The vet tech told me about a person who wouldn’t stop watching the TV in the waiting room while she was relaying complicated dosing instructions. Maybe the dog was paying attention?
3. Animals that are poorly groomed or neglected.
You can try to keep secrets from your vet, but some of them are written all over your animal. The dogs with long curled over nails, or mats so tight that they have to be cut out convey that you’re denying your dog the basic care that he deserves. One poor cat came into the office with a rump impacted with enough fur and dried on fecal matter that the poor thing couldn’t even defecate.
4. People who walk in without an appointment and demand immediate care.
Now, we’re not talking about emergency situations here. People actually show up and expect a well-run office to screech to a halt in order to accommodate their needs. Would you try this at your primary care physician’s office? Probably not. Though I didn’t chat with the front desk staff, I’m sure that this is one of their big vet peeves too.
5. Arriving late for an appointment.
This one is common sense, but it still happens often enough to warrant a mention. Diagnosing accurately takes time, and if you show up late you not only risk a rushed appointment, you also inconvenience everyone who has an appointment after you. If we’re being completely honest here, MY vet peeve is that I always show up on time but wind up waiting 15 to 20 minutes before we’re seen. I’m guessing that the two peeves are related.
6. Getting insulted if you’re asked to leave the room.
Sometimes pets react better when their person isn’t standing right beside them, so if the staff asks you to step outside, go with it. Keep in mind that they’re not going to hurt your dog (this assumption is another vet peeve), they just want to perform the procedure as quickly and efficiently as possible. If you’re worried about what’s happening to your animal when you’re not in the room it might be worthwhile to ask yourself why, and consider finding a facility that you trust completely.
I hang my head in shame, as I know that I’m now a frequent peever. After a 20-year history of perfect canine patients, I’m living with a very unruly one. Olive’s handling issues escalated in dramatic fashion when we had to do a blood draw last week, so I’m going to be working hard to avoid being one of those people my veterinarian dreads seeing. Hopefully this list will help you do the same!