50 Secrets Your Veterinarian Won’t Tell You
We asked veterinarians and vet technicians to reveal pet vet tips and cautionary tales, which can save time, trouble, and trauma for everyone in the family.
The dogs that scare me most are the little Chihuahuas
“People always ask, ‘How do you handle pit bulls and rottweilers and big German shepherds?’ The truth is, the dogs that scare me most are the little Chihuahuas. They’re much more likely to bite.” —Mark Howes, DVM, owner and medical director of Berglund Animal Hospital in Evanston, Illinois. Don’t miss these 60 adorable pet photos that will make you want to get one of your own.
If you are aggressive to the staff, you will be treated differently
“Most hospitals keep comprehensive records of behavior—of both your pet and you! If you are aggressive to the staff, you will be treated differently.” —Oscar Chavez, DVM, program director for the vet tech program at California Polytechnic State University in Pomona, California
Looking for a way to say thank you to your vet?
“Last year, one pet owner gave us a check for $100, saying we could use it at our discretion for an animal in need. That was a wonderful gift.” —Patty Khuly, VMD, a vet in Miami, Florida
The reason your pet is fat is because you are too
“I would never say that to someone in an exam room, but the fact of the matter is, if you have an owner who overeats and is inactive, they are very likely to have an obese pet.” —Oscar Chavez, DVM. These are the scientific benefits of having a pet.
We’re a vet hospital, not a dog hotel
“People will get upset because their dog got a sheet instead of two fluffy blankets or because their dog didn’t get hand-fed. We’re just trying to get your dog better so he can come home and you can spoil him.” —Jessica Stout-Harris, a vet tech who runs confessionsfromtheanimalshelter.com
We know when you’re twisting the facts
“If your dog has a five-pound tumor hanging from his skin, please don’t tell me it wasn’t there yesterday.” —Phil Zeltzman, DVM, a traveling veterinary surgeon in Allentown, Pennsylvania,and the author of Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound.
Don’t blame me if you’re frugal
“Here’s a pet peeve: Owners who don’t want to pay for diagnostic tests but then cop an attitude because you don’t know what’s wrong with the animal. Since you wouldn’t let me do the blood work or X-rays, how the heck do you expect me to know?” —A vet in South Carolina. These are the secrets your pet groomer won’t tell you.
Please respect that we’re trying to work
“If you’re visiting your pet in the hospital, and we say something along the lines of ‘OK, it’s time to let Fluffy sleep now,’ often what we really mean is that you’re in our way, and we’re trying to treat other patients.” —Jessica Stout-Harris
I personally wouldn’t take my dog to a dog park
“I understand the value of dog parks, but I personally wouldn’t take my dog there. We see a lot of dogs who were injured at dog parks.” —Rachel Simpson, a vet tech at Adobe Animal Hospital in Los Altos, California. These are the things you do that your dog actually hates.
Every time I save a life, every time I fix a patient, that makes everything worth it
“I love it when a client says, ‘I wish my physician would treat me as nice as you treat my pets.’” —Phil Zeltzman, DVM.
We don’t want your pets to be in pain
“A lot of veterinarians have told me matter-of-factly that they still don’t use painkillers for procedures that we know are painful. They think that dogs and cats don’t need it or that feeling pain after surgery is good because it keeps them from moving around too much. But research has shown that pets who are in less pain heal faster, sleep better, and don’t move around as much.” —Dennis Leon, DVM, director at Levittown Animal Hospital in Long Island, New York
You must license your dogs
“At a veterinary meeting I attended, it came to light that more than half the vets there had not licensed their dogs, which is required by local law.” —Patty Khuly, VMD.
I know she shouldn’t have it, but…
“You should never give pets chocolate, because it’s toxic to most of them. But my cat is obsessed with it and is all over me when I’m eating it, so sometimes I give her a sliver. Just an itsy-bitsy, tiny one.” —A vet in California. These are the superpowers that all dogs have.
Every time we help a pet, we help a person
“The classic example is the 80-year-old grandma who has nothing in life but her cat. She’s a widow with very limited social contact, and the cat is what connects her to life. So when we help her cat, she’s really the one we’re helping.” —Phil Zeltzman, DVM
When people surrender their pets because they can’t afford their problems, I often end up with them
“I’ve got a three-legged cat, a one-eyed cat, three dogs that required major surgeries, one goat, and 11 chickens.”—Patty Khuly, VMD
We’ll do things for free
“Sometimes we do things for free, just because we want to help the pet.” —Sandy Willis, DVM, DACVIM, an internal medicine consultant in Seattle, Washington. Check out which dog breeds are actually the smartest.
New staff or training students sometimes practice injections or catheter placements on your pet
“If you’d rather not allow your pet to be used this way, make sure you say something beforehand.” —Oscar Chavez, DVM
I’ll let you in on the secret of no-kill shelters…
“We had a contract with our local Humane Society that stated we’d euthanize the animals in their care that needed to be put down. One Sunday, they sent us 72 cats to put down. By the end, we were all emotionally devastated.” —Jessica Stout-Harris
We rarely can help with behavioral issues
“Behavior issues are the No. 1 cause of pet re-homing, euthanasia, and death. Yet, because it’s not medical, most of us don’t learn much about that in veterinary school.” —Oscar Chavez, DVM. Here is what your dog wishes you knew.
Your vet may not have gotten into vet school!
“Vets who can’t get into traditional U.S. veterinary programs due to bad grades and poor test scores often go to for-profit schools in the Caribbean, where, basically, if you can pay the tuition, you get in.” —A vet in California
No regulation says vets have to check certain lists before they euthanize an animal
“Lots of vets still do convenience euthanasia for owners who prefer the easy way out. We see a lot of euthanasia in November and December, for example, just because people are getting ready for the holidays. I refuse to do it.” —Oscar Chavez, DVM
Your $2,000 designer dog is a mutt
“Puppy stores and breeders have created these cute names like Morkipoos and Puggles, and now people are paying $2,000 for a dog they couldn’t give away at the pound ten years ago. Whoever started the trend is a marketing genius.” —Dennis Leon, DVM. Check out these unbelievable facts you never knew about your dog.
I hate retractable leashes
“The stopping mechanism pops open so easily, and suddenly the pet is flying to the end of it, and maybe it’s into the street or into the jaws of another dog. I’ve had people bring in a pet who got hit by a car because they were using a retractable leash and the stopping mechanism broke.” —Bernadine Cruz, DVM, associate vet at Laguna Hills Animal Hospital in Laguna Woods, California
Healthy pets don’t need vitamins
“Even though you see vitamins on the shelves in pet stores, healthy pets don’t need them. The pet food companies have spent billions of dollars to make sure their food is properly balanced with every vitamin and mineral a pet needs.” —A vet in California
Don’t feed your pet a raw-food diet
“Some people are really into a raw-food diet for pets, but it’s a huge public health hazard. Think about it: You have raw meat, you’re touching it, your dog touches it, and then your dog goes and licks the baby. I’ve had two patients die and two patients get really sick from it.” —Amber Andersen, DVM, a vet at Point Vicente Animal Hospital in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. These are the most common health problems in 14 popular dog breeds.