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Does Your Vet Think You’re High Maintenance?

Picture of a vet holding a puppy

Over the course of their careers, veterinarians can be confronted with a wide array of situations, many of which actually pertain to the pet parents, not the animals themselves. There are some types of high-maintenance clients that can make a vet lose their patience, and some of them are more frequent than the others. 

In this article, we will try to highlight some situations that can make you seem a high-maintenance client. We’ll also give you some tips on what you should try to avoid doing so as to benefit from good communication with your vet. We also included some info on how you can make it a bit easier for a vet to communicate with you and focus on your pet as best as possible, without you needing to become anxious.

What is a high-maintenance client?

Pet guardians love their pets as if they were members of their family, and sometimes this affection can be a little overwhelming. If you’ve ever known a mother who’s just had a child and can’t seem to talk about anything else other than the baby, you probably know how weird it can be for the people around her after some time. 

Some pet parents talk about their pets all the time, and every little behavior and every little change in their pets can be interpreted in one way or the other. High-maintenance clients can often make a too big deal out of something that doesn’t even matter all that much. However, they do it out of love. They are like overprotective parents who’d maybe want to keep their children indoors for fear of them getting sick if they go outside. 

Every pet parent should give their pet a certain amount of independence. If your dog or cat is clingy and you’re overprotective, you’re a match made in heaven. But what some people might not know is that some pets actually need their space. While that might not apply to all dogs, for example, there are some who sometimes prefer being quiet and on their own than being constantly stimulated. As for cats, we all know how that goes. Clingy cats are actually very rare. 

The reason I wanted to make this introduction is that I wanted to point out that high-maintenance clients often don’t realize that they are high-maintenance. 

In a profession like veterinary medicine, long hours, fatigue, exposure to a variety of infectious diseases, as well as the disappointment of losing a patient significantly affect the well-being of the doctor. Vets are very predisposed to depression, and a high-maintenance client can unfortunately make matters a lot more difficult for them. 

Both parts have to be as rational as possible when interacting with each other. Pet parents obviously feel like their pets are the most important ones in the world, but the truth is that there are others that need the vet’s attention throughout the day, as well. Being a little empathetic with the vet can be a good way of letting them know that you are just a human being who genuinely cares about their little friend. 

On the other hand, if the high-maintenance client’s behavior becomes erratic or even dangerous, vets do have the freedom to refuse to provide their services to them, even if there is a pet involved. 

Asking too many questions

It’s one thing to ask specific questions about your pet’s medical condition and a completely different one to exhibit constant and unnecessary anxiety through the questions that you ask your vet. Here are some questions that could really bother a veterinarian, even though they might not show it. 

  • Are you sure that this reaction isn’t a result of the drug you prescribed?
  • Shouldn’t you do it this way? (referring to any procedure that you might have seen in a YouTube video)
  • Are you sure that they’re not suffering from X? (where X is a disease you read about on the Internet)
  • Is this because of X they had last month? (where X is a non-invasive diagnostic procedure such as an ultrasound)

There are heaps of useful questions that you can ask and that you should ask, to make sure that you are correctly informed of what your pet is suffering from. 

You should ask about the prognosis of the medical condition, you should ask whether there aren’t any additional tests that can be done just in case, you should ask what treatment there is and how you can give it to your pet if you can’t come to the clinic. You can ask as many questions you want so long as they pertain to the case, to the patient, and they actually have a sense. 

Blaming the vet for every little thing

It can be terribly difficult to not do your own research and completely trust the vet’s diagnostic. We all want the best for our pets, but the truth is that medication can sometimes have side effects, some procedures can cause adverse reactions, as well, and it is not the vet’s personal fault if this happens. 

Some vets can find a reproachful attitude from a client very hard to take. It could be very well that the vet has done something wrong, but in many cases, that’s not what happened. Anxiety can make some pet parents behave a little weird. If you don’t trust your vet, just go to another one – you have that option and freedom. But if you don’t trust the second one or the third one, you really need to ask yourself whether something else might not be the issue.   

Getting on the phone with the vet unusually often

As we have mentioned before, vets are often very busy and stressed. In an emergency, you should rather take your dog to the vet’s rather than calling the office every 30 minutes or so. 

There are other pets that the vet needs to see. So, if you suspect that something is serious, take your pet to the clinic right away. If you have one question, place one or two phone calls tops. Please remember that a veterinarian can’t diagnose a pet via a phone call

Trying to haggle the prices

If you live in North America and you do not have pet insurance, you can get into debt if your pet has an emergency and needs to receive treatment. This is extremely serious. Veterinary services are extremely pricey for people who do not have pet insurance. Trying to convince your vet to give you a discount can be very frustrating. 

Even if the vet were willing to do this, they might not be able to because the prices are fixed and they might just be an employee of the clinic. Not all vets have their own practice. Besides, if vets were to give special treatment to everyone, they would never be able to pay their taxes or live off of what they do. As noble a profession as veterinary medicine might be, it’s still a profession that needs to put food on the vet’s table. 

Not sticking to your vet’s recommendations

Another aspect I’d like to note is that, if you stick to your vet’s recommendations (in terms of diet and everything else), you most likely don’t have to ask them whether the piece of food you’ve given your pet (which you shouldn’t have) could have caused a negative outcome. If you pay attention and if you understand that the treatment and recommendations are correct and should be abided by as best as possible, you have almost no way of worsening your pet’s condition. 

I myself had a case where a dog had a mild indigestion. We started treating him and on the third day of treatment, when the dog owner brought him to the clinic, he told me he had given his canine friend some stew with mayo when he had been instructed to strictly feed his dog a bland diet. 

As surprising as it might sound, the dog started having diarrhea again even though during the first couple of days, it stopped. The client actually wanted to tell us that the treatment was ineffective and it was by accident that we ‘caught’ him mentioning what he had fed him. We explained to him that if he didn’t feed his dog a bland diet, we could go on treating his dog for weeks — and obviously, it was his money he was spending and his dog’s health he was jeopardizing. 

This situation happened in real life and it happens incredibly frequently. There are also pet owners who feel that they could try a natural alternative to the treatment prescribed by the vet, but sometimes the severity of the disease that the animal is suffering from makes any natural option completely ineffective. 

So, if the vet prescribed a medication, you should use that one instead of trying something else. If you don’t just please don’t lie when you go to the vet the next time, just because you’re ashamed and you’ve made your pet’s condition worse. Be honest – otherwise your pet might not receive the correct treatment. 

Final thoughts

In the end, effective communication between the vet and the pet parent can prevent all of these situations. If both parties take the time to address each other’s concerns patiently and thoroughly, this can favorably impact the pet, both in terms of health and wellbeing. 

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