10 Things a Great Vet Does Without Credit that You Never Know About

lunch in toilet, lunch, toilet, bathroom, no time for lunch

A typical vet's lunch break

Vets on the whole are a humble crowd, and there are many things they do on a daily basis that you aren’t aware of. Here are some of the top unrecognized practices that an excellent compassionate veterinarian does that you likely don’t know about.

10. Giving up our time.
Many vets don’t get to leave the hospital for lunch, or even have time to have a designated lunch time while at work. We are often so busy and accommodate walk-ins that our “us time” must be spent completing diagnostics, medical records, checking on patients, returning phone calls, emergency surgeries…the list goes on.  The occasion we get off work on time is so rare it’s cause for celebration.  Vets almost ALWAYS stay late for clients and their pets.

9. Pulling up an injectable drug with one needle, and switching out the needle so your pet gets a new perfectly sharp and less painful needle for the injection.
This costs the vet more money (double the costs of needles in a vet hospital and it is not insignificant), and is only for the comfort of your pet out of kindness.

8. Using high-quality surgical practices.
Many clients don’t know or care what kind of surgical care their pet receives at the vet. An excellent vet will use IV catheters (not inexpensive) so they always have venous access in case something goes wrong–which sometimes it does. They also will provide IV fluids during surgery, as well as have different methods (EKG, blood pressure, pulse oximetry) to monitor your pet while under anesthesia. My anesthesiology professor in vet school told us, “Anesthesia is the closest the body will get to death without dying.” He is right.

7. Bathing your pet.cat bath, giving a cat a bath
A shockingly high number of pet owners come into the vet with their pet covered in feces or vomit without having attempted to clean them up whatsoever. An even higher number of pets will soil themselves while at the vet, despite receiving appropriate potty breaks. We can’t send them home filthy, and have to bathe them. Think of how much a groomer charges to bathe, dry, and brush your pet. We do it for free.

6. Putting in phone time with you.
How often can you get your medical doctor on the phone to discuss symptoms, or test results with you? Isn’t it usually the nurse? Vets put in a lot of time, and generate no revenue from phone time, but still choose to because we value the personalized connection with you, the pet owner.

5. Putting in phone time with other vets.
Are you aware that most vets spend time –on their own clock–consulting with other vets about unusual cases? We do. You may be getting multiple expert opinions without even knowing it. I can think of many nights where Dr. Jed and I spent the evening in the office reading the latest journal articles and bouncing ideas off of each other. And it doesn’t just happen to veterinarians who happen to be married to each other–my best friend is a vet too, and we talk daily about cases.

A great vet keeps your budget in mind without compromising your pet’s health by writing prescriptions for generic drugs at human pharmacies like Target and Walmart where hundreds of drugs are available for less than $4/mo.

4. Reviewing adverse reactions of medications with you.
Has your MD or pharmacist ever reviewed side effects of a drug with you? Likely, you just sign the slip or electric screen that says you are aware of the potentials, and they give you a handout. A good vet takes the time to make you aware of a drug’s side effects, and how it should be administered.

3. Typing up personalized instructions for you to read at home with tests performed, your pet’s diagnosis, what that means, and the step-by-step home treatments.
This takes a tremendous amount of the veterinarian’s time. and we gain no revenue from this.  The vet that takes this time is out for your pet’s well-being, as we can do a stellar job in the hospital, but if the pet owner doesn’t understand what to do at home, the pet will remain sick.

2. Grieving with you.
When people find out I am a veterinarian, they always say, “I don’t know how your get used to that, putting animals down. I could never do that.” Well, we don’t get used to it. It never gets easy, and it’s something we have to mount up and do for the well-being of the pet and their pet parent. You may think this gets easier with time for your vet, but the truth is, most vets take it home with them. Not only the vets, but the staff as well. Your tears are not the only ones shed when that sad time comes, rest assured. We remember that face and that sloppy wet nose too.golden retriever, dog nose, wet dog nose, dog face

1. Saving you money.
A veterinarian who wants to practice quality medicine and keep your budget in mind will offer to write you a prescription when possible to get generic drugs elsewhere, such as human pharmacies like Target and Walmart where hundreds of drugs are available for less than $4/mo. Instead of spending all your money on pills at the vet, this allows the pet to get the medicine it needs, as well as the diagnostic to ensure that we are treating the right disease.

Don’t know what pet hospital does?  Ask a vet about their animal health jobs.
What wonderful things does your veterinarian do that you appreciate?  What makes your vet a great vet?  Let us know!

Dr. Laci

SIGNATURE DVM

Dr. Laci Nash Schaible, DVM



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28 Comments

November 14, 2010 at 10:12
 

what a great post!! I’ve often thought humans would be healthier if human medicine were practiced with the same devotion and kindness that vets show their patients / clients.

November 14, 2010 at 11:24
 

Awwww.thanks Karen. Dr. Jed and I both thought about becoming an MD–him a surgeon, me a pediatrician, but we couldn’t stay away from the pets in the end!

There is a lot of variance in what goes behind the scene in vet med–both good and bad, but I think they are more kind vets out there than other ones. For those kind ones, we really do often get “run over” by clients. There are many things we do without credit–unglamorous things, and I hoped to let pet owners know about.

Thanks for being a regular reader and commenter!

November 14, 2010 at 11:25
 

Oh, and we’ve both snuck away for lunch in the bathroom MANY times. Sometimes you just need a moment to yourself, and geography is not an option!

November 14, 2010 at 11:28
 

Another great post!!

November 14, 2010 at 11:55
 

Thanks Sarah! This one was very easy to write, as it didn’t take much time to think of things vets do without credit!

November 14, 2010 at 11:44
 

Dr. Laci, I love the post, too and share all your words of wisdom with PET PEOPLE!!
Thank you and Dr. Jed for all you do!!!!!!!!

November 14, 2010 at 12:41
 

Thank you Judy! Your continued support is greatly appreciated!

pwd
November 14, 2010 at 11:44
 

What a great post. My vet is awesome as he also does home visits. Works on a budget if it’s the cost is higher then expected.

November 14, 2010 at 12:44
 

That is wonderful! I know several “mobile” vets and they love it, and so do their clients.

Tamara
November 14, 2010 at 11:50
 

:) I’m definitely sharing this one :)

November 14, 2010 at 11:56
 

Thanks Tamara! Please do share, and please encourage them to donate, even $1. We are close to $500, and I’d love to even beat it!

Thanks for reading!

November 14, 2010 at 12:15
 

Thanks Dr. Laci! Most of these are things we would never have the opportunity to tell clients without sounding like…well, I would never say “I gave up my lunch for your puppy!” but I would love it if a client would just know that and thank me – ha! So worth it, of course, but now I feel appreciated!

November 14, 2010 at 12:45
 

I know Dr. Finch–it is impossible to toot your own horn, and not that you even want to, but it is frustrating to have done all these things without a thank you.

A thank you makes all the difference in the world! We’re only human too!

November 14, 2010 at 15:32
 

As annoying pet owner as I am, I never forget to show love and gratitude to our vet, particularly as I KNOW that it isn’t always that way. He surely does go the extra mile for Jasmine.

November 15, 2010 at 22:31
 

Yay for Jana, our favorite online pet owner! I have no doubt that you are wonderful client and special to your vet, both for you and your dogs.

After all, learning new stuff (stem cell) and tracking down unusual cases are the reason we became vets. Vaccines are boring! Sometimes nice to have an easy appointment where you can just talk and educate about preventative care, but the complex diseases are like cool detective work–when they owner will let you “detect.”

Samantha
November 15, 2010 at 00:50
 

I wish my boyfriend went to your hospital. When the family pet died all he received was rolled eyes, attitude, and a bill. We take our other dog to a different location where the vet there is more like the vets described here. Thanks for this article, it reminds me that there are still great vets out there.

November 15, 2010 at 22:28
 

Samantha,

Pets can’t talk, obviously, so it is crucial to find an excellent vet. A quality vet will do EVERYTHING on here, and more. I just wanted to limit my post to 10 to keep it catchy and not too long to read.

tammydays
November 25, 2010 at 17:23
 

When I was 11, my parents moved my family from the suburbs to a very rural area. I was an animal fanatic, so I was so happy to join 4-H. I took sheep and goat 4-H projects. I was very interested in the care of my animals.

I’ll never forget the first lamb I took to the vet. She had an abscess on her that was larger than a softball.

Instead of taking my lamb, treating my lamb and returning her to me; Dr. K said to me, “Come with me. If you’re going to have animals, you are going to have an education along with them.”

He took me to the large animal treatment area. He gave me gloves, a smock and a big bottle of iodine.

Despite a waiting room full of dogs and cats, he took the time to teach me how to drain, cleanse and pack an abscess. This is a common problem for sheep and goats in our area, so he wanted me to be able to treat any others on my own at home.

It was like this every time I took an animal to Dr. K. He would teach me what I needed to know so that, if I had an emergency at home, I could make some very good decisions. He also knew my parents could not afford many trips to the vet; so he wanted me to be able to take care of animals at home when it was something minor that we could easily treat.

He didn’t need to do this. He didn’t need to take the time to teach a little kid about farm animals; but he took that time.

I gained confidence to treat many ailments at home. I realize dealing with farm animals is very different than pets in many ways, but I loved my lambs as much as my dogs and cats!

One winter, during an ice storm/ blizzard that made travel to the vet impossible, my kitty came home with his stomach area sliced open. Fortunately, no organs had been pierced, but his intestines were hanging out of the gash.

I called Dr. K… AT HIS HOUSE.. and he talked me through caring for my cat. Because he had taught me so much, I had an animal first aid kit in my home with everything that was required.

Sitting in my living room floor, I followed his instructions and even managed to stitch the gash shut.

Three days later, when a neighbor dug us out with a bulldozer; I took the cat in to Dr. K. Kitty required no more treatment.

That kitty lived to be 21 years old!

Even today, I seek professional advice for my sick animals; however, because of the treatment I received from Dr. K, I know what questions to ask and in many cases, once the vet chooses a treatment for one animal, I can handle the treatment of the rest of the herd.

My kitties and puppies still get special vet. care. I would never try to treat an ailment without the advice of a dr. first! This being said, I know that, should I not be able to make it to a vet, I have the skills to help my animal with basic first aid.

It would have been so much easier for Dr. K to just treat my animals as they came to him. However, he wanted all animals to receive the best care and believed that the best care begins at home. He gave me an education that has helped me in many situations. He also gave confidence to a kid who was pretty shy and uneasy.

Many vets go so far above their call of duty!

THANK YOU TO DR. LACI, AND ALL OF THOSE OTHER SPECIAL VETS WHO TREAT FAMILY MEMBERS, NOT PETS!!!!

November 26, 2010 at 12:07
 

Tammy,

What a wonderful vet you have! It is so fantastic that he took the time to educate you so you would be able to help your animals. Wow, it is wonderful that you were able to save you kitty by using great first aid. Having a pet first aid kit is so important for all pet owners! Thanks for reading, and I hope Chester is feeling better today!

November 17, 2011 at 23:34
 

this is completely off-topic but for number 6, doctors spend a fraction of the time nurses do with patients so they are not as readily aware of the patient’s status as nurses are. nurses are also the first ones to review lab results. for number 4, doctors, nurses and pharmacists should all be educating patients about medication. if that’s not happening, then people aren’t doing their jobs.

Rania Gollakner
November 18, 2011 at 06:56
 

Thank you for this post. You said the most important part, we do all this and 90% are completely oblivious. I have found the hardest part of being a vet is pouring your time and soul into your work, only to have someone complain that they have to wait 5 minutes for a prescription that they just walked up to the counter for and asked to be refilled. I hope everyone reads this post.

Marie
November 18, 2011 at 22:34
 

I agree – and have great vets – but wish you hadnt made the comparisons with MDs – great MDs are the same. Except for the baths. My dog came home from the vet smelling and feeling weird – our basenjis dont get baths – the vet had spruced him up!

November 20, 2011 at 11:05
 

Glad you have a great MD. You are right that they must have difficult professions and certainly put in long hours–often far longer than ours’!

L walton
November 23, 2011 at 16:17
 

i love my vet for many of the reasons listed here! and he’s always willing to teach me something about my animals and so ready to listen to my concerns and tell me his. the approach to treatment is always a joint effort and i know he gives the best care available because of his caring concern. thanks so much to everyone at mesa grande animal hospital in rio rancho, nm!

jerry
January 11, 2012 at 17:48
 

I give free nail trims, baths , and clean out ears during routine spays which are still less than $100 where I practice and most still gripe about the fees. People do not respect vets. Young people out there, take my advice do not go to vet school. Go to med school and become a physician where you can enjoy losing a patient. Oh yeah. the school is easier, the pay is 10x better and the suicide rate is 4x lower.

May 2, 2012 at 10:56
 

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May 12, 2012 at 19:20
 

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June 20, 2012 at 06:35
 

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