What Veterinarians Won’t Tell You About Their Job

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A veterinarian with a secret.

Veterinary medicine involves lots of sloppy warm kisses and friendly tail wags on a daily basis. And overall, it’s a very rewarding profession. But not every day is all puppies, kittens, healthy pets and treatable diseases. As a veterinarian, I often see frustrating, sad and even gross things. Recently I posted a blog discussing surprising things your veterinarian loves. Here is my list of the top six least favorite appointments or procedures we see:

1. Neglect
The top of my least-favorite list is any appointment or disease that stems from neglect or was preventable. Unfortunately this happens! It’s often hard for animal lovers and pet insurance enthusiasts to imagine that someone wouldn’t treat their pet like one of the family. But it does happen. Often the neglect isn’t malicious or intentional, but stems from lack of knowledge. For example, injuries sustained after leaping out of the back of trucks, which could have been prevented by tethering or securing the dog correctly (or not putting the pet in the back of a vehicle at all.) Other diseases of neglect could include sunburn from being outside too long, skin issues stemming from poor grooming habits or excessively long toe nails. Even periodontal disease that has been left too long can cause the pet pain and discomfort.

2. Chubby Pets
Another of my least-favorites to see is obesity. Obesity is 100% preventable, with the exception of some endocrine disorders such as hypothyroidism. It is responsible for so many other problems, including arthritis, other orthopedic issues such as ACL/cruciate tears, some dermatologic issues, such as skin fold dermatitis, and increased amount of diabetes, amongst others. Studies continue to show that overweight dogs live an average of 2 years less than their thin counterparts. The best advice I can give here is to speak to your vet about portion control, and take that doggy for more walks!

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3. Untrained Pets
I also don’t look forward to treating pets that are ill mannered. The National Humane Society reports that the number one reason a pet is relinquished is due to behavioral problems. It is so important as puppies and kittens that behavioral training is taken very seriously. A well-behaved pet will undoubtedly make a better companion and will also be a happier family member. I understand that the clinic is a scary place and I don’t mind when pets are shy, or even fear aggressive. This is understandable and can be worked around with calming words, and occasionally a muzzle to protect the staff. But basic obedience, such as sit and stay should be a regular part of any pet’s repertoire.

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4. The Eeewws
One appointment that is on my list due to gross-out factor, is maggots. They still make me squeamish! Unfortunately, outdoor dogs, or older animals that can’t groom or clean themselves regularly can develop sores that are a haven for flies. While treatable, this is definitely on my list of least-favorite things to medicate.

5. Tips and Toes
Toe nail trims! We dislike them for all the same reasons you dislike them and your dog or cat dislikes them. Of course, we are more than happy to do them for you, especially since it goes along with the job, but it generally isn’t any more fun for us!

6. Euthanizing a Pet Due to Expense
And last, but not least– I can’t think of anything more disheartening than when a pet owner can’t afford treatment. Without the help that pet insurance plans may provide, pet owners sometimes opt for euthanasia instead of treatment because of cost alone (euthanasia is generally much less expensive than treatment.) One thing I always make a point of discussing with my clients, is the importance of cat and dog insurance. Having an insurance plan in place may help make the highest level of care affordable. Many pet owners don’t know that veterinary visits for things as simple as broken bones or allergies can be thousands of dollars.

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Even though the above aren’t my favorite things to see, they all are a part of a job that I love. Overall, most of the pets I see are a pleasure to work with and veterinary medicine is generally a very fun and gratifying career.

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