So, a complaint has been lobbied elsewhere that we are angry and sad, and that our venting is accomplishing nothing, because most owners are unaware that they are clueless and cause the majority of their pets' problems. Thus, this post is going to be about ways *YOU* (yes, YOU) can improve your pet ownership skills and endear your veterinarian to you forever.
1) Take our recommendations seriously. We don't recommend heartworm testing once a year to line our pockets, and we don't recommend monthly heartworm preventative for that reason either. Heartworms are a serious, serious and preventable disease. Despite having excellent preventative in the form of monthly pills or topical treatments, sometimes dogs get heartworms anyway. Thus, yearly testing is necessary before we dispense the preventative. If we give you the preventative WITHOUT testing your dog, and he/she does have heartworms, we could kill your pet. The same is true for vaccinations. We didn't make up distemper, parvovirus, or rabies, and they can all kill your pet. Vaccinations prevent these deadly infections in the vast majority of cases. It is also the law that you must vaccinate your pet for rabies.
2) Spay and neuter your pets. There are thousands of animals euthanized weekly in the United States for want of homes. Adding badly bred dogs and cats to this mix is irresponsible. If you are going to breed, make sure to have money saved up for the possible c-section or other life-threatening complications that can come with breeding. Don't expect to make money on the puppies. In the end, good breeders often barely break even. See #3 for a continuation of this recommendation.
3) Start a small savings fund for your pets. Putting a few dollars a week into a savings account can help you prepare for the eventuality that your pet develops a life-threatening illness or injury. Nothing makes this veterinarian sadder than having to euthanize a pet with a potentially fixable problem because its owner has no finances. Further, if an owner can at least meet me halfway, I can usually find a way to treat a pet. Telling me that you have "no money whatsoever" for your pet's treatment, then whipping out your iPhone is NOT going to endear you to me. It is also going to make me much less inclined to help your pet.
4) Exercise common sense. Do not let your dog or cat roam freely. If you are going to do so, don't be surprised when he gets hit by a car, ingests antifreeze or rat bait, or is mauled by another dog. Further, don't make it my problem when this happens and you haven't followed rule #2.
5) If we tell you that your pet is fat, please listen to us. We know something about dog/cat nutrition and normal dog/cat weight and body condition. Don't argue with us that your breeder, the pimply teenager at the pet store, or your mother who was a groomer told you that your dog's weight was perfect. We went to school for 8 years, and we might - just might - have a smidgen more knowledge and experience than the aforementioned people.
6) Be an informed owner. If you present your pet to us for illness, please know what medications or chronic medical condition your pet has. Telling us that he's on "a little white pill for his heart" is not going to help us at all. There are a million little white pills in the world. Write your pet's important medical history including medications down somewhere and keep up with it. That way, if he ever has an emergency, the information is readily and quickly available.
Using Google to research your pet's illness is fine, but if we tell you something is BS, then it's BS. Believing Dr Google over us (or some random breeder website) is insulting.
7) Don't feel bad if you can't do every test and treatment recommended by your veterinarian. We are all human and have bills and families, so despite what you might think, we understand. Have a calm and logical discussion with us about what you are willing and able to do, and we will all work with you to find a solution. Getting mad, cursing at us, or calling us money-grubbing is not going to make us want to help you find alternative solutions.
8) Lastly, try to treat us with a little courtesy. We went to school for a long time to get where we are. Most of us accrued a large amount of debt to do this career. We are in it for the animals, but we also need to make a living, just like you. Money and making our mortgage payment is no less important for us than it is for you. Every time you ask for a discount or tell us that "if you loved animals, you'd help me out," you are trying to steal from us. Just because we expect to be paid for our services doesn't mean that we don't love animals. We do, or most of us would have quit this profession a long time ago.