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Top 3 Hardest Things About Being a Veterinarian

Posted on: August 15th, 2012 by

A small dog looks up at his owner in fear.

Being a veterinarian can be one of the most gratifying careers in the world. We have the ability to heal companions, which for many, are part of the family. But being a veterinarian also has its share of challenges. It this blog, I’ll give you the inside scoop on what I think are the top 3 most difficult aspects of being a veterinarian.

Coming in at Number 3: Euthanasia
Often times, clientele comment on how euthanasia must be the hardest part of my job. While it can be very emotionally taxing, the truth is euthanasia is not the hardest part of my career. As a veterinarian, it is a double-edged sword. Euthanasia is often a wonderful service to be able to provide to a suffering animal, or one that has terminal disease and no longer has an acceptable quality of life. That being said, many times a veterinarian develops a personal relationship with not only the pet owners, but the animal as well. Sometimes it is very difficult to not break down and cry during a euthanasia. Sometimes it happens.

Number 2: Abuse
If you’ve ever looked into the innocent eyes of an animal that has an unexplained fear of people, an animal that quivers thinking it could be beaten at any time for reasons that aren’t understood, then you know what type of gut wrenching feeling that invokes. Animal cruelty can occur in more forms than just physical violence, it can also include negligence, hording, and abandonment to name a few. I see cases on a routine basis where an animal owner doesn’t even realize that they are being negligent to their pet. Domesticated animals rely on their owners to not only provide food, water, and shelter, but a nurturing environment as well. As veterinarians, we are ethically bound to report suspected cases of abuse. That alone, however, is not enough to avoid the sickening feeling we get knowing that it occurs and seeing it first hand in our clinics.

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And Number 1: The Inability to Treat
In my opinion, the very toughest aspect of being a vet is having a young, mostly-healthy animal with a solvable problem- but no resources to correct the issue. The truth is, even the healthiest of animals can run into unexpected illnesses or accidents. This is the main reason I’m such a huge pet insurance enthusiast. Cat and dog insurance can often mean the different between affording care for your pet, or having to opt for euthanasia because of cost alone.

Sometimes pet illnesses and accidents can be very demanding both emotionally and financially. Repeatedly, veterinarians are in a situation where we feel we could cure a pet, but there just aren’t the funds to treat the patient. Many people don’t realize that veterinary clinics are businesses, not charities. Given the very large overhead associated with running a hospital, many clinics have very little financial wiggle-room to keep the business in positive numbers, let alone donate products and services. Too often clients enter a veterinary clinic with the expectation that regardless of what they are able to pay, their animal will receive the care it requires. As an animal lover, it is so hard to tell someone that their pet won’t receive that care. It’s even harder to watch that animal walk out the door without the medical attention it needs. These circumstances leave us with such an unsettling feeling of helplessness and sorrow. There are few things worse than knowing that a decision about life, or the quality of it, came down to money.

For more information about pet health and behavior or to learn how you may be able to afford the best care for your pet, visit Pets Best Insurance.

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5 Comments

  1. James says:

    I had to put my longtime feline companion down a couple of years ago. We wound up at a vet’s office that we didn’t know.

    As we said goodbye to Scrappy she peacefully passed away in my arms before having to be euthanized. When the vet returned to the room and verified that Scrappy had passed she reached over and grapped my hand and begin to cry with my wife and I. It was a very touching moment for us.

    • Hadley Rush says:

      Hi James,

      Thank you for sharing your comment about Scrappy. That is a very touching story. We’re so sorry for your loss.

  2. Kathleen Waterbury says:

    About the cost and not able to treat because we do not have it…..The insurance will not pay the vet. It pays us after the visit to the vet so having insurance only means we are getting money back we have already had to dish out. I have had to put my cat’s office visit off for a few months because there truly is no money. And I put her before anything for me…So when are you going to put the the vet as the reipient? It would definitely help us out.

    • Hadley Rush says:

      Hi Kathleen,

      Thank you for your question. As you know, pet insurance is different from human health insurance, in that it’s a reimbursement type insurance. This means pet owners pay their veterinarians upfront and then file a claim to receive reimbursement. However, some veterinarians are willing to work with their clients and set up payment plans. This is certainly something you might inquire about, as waiting months to take a sick cat to the doctor could be very dangerous for your pet’s health and is not advised. Pets Best Insurance also offers a veterinarian release form permitting the insurance agency to directly reimburse the hospital itself, so long as the veterinarian signs off on it. If you would like more information about this, please contact the Pets Best Insurance customer care team at 877-738-7237. Thank you!

  3. Emma Tameside says:

    My daughter’s reaching that age were she needs to understand the reality of becoming a vet. She’s wanted to be one since as long as I can remember, and she even made me contribute to several animal welfare groups when she was eight years old.

    I may let her have a read over this in about a year or so, just to prepare her for the difficult parts of being a veterinarian. Let’s hope she still wants to do it after wards! I’d be proud of her for it.

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