How to Avoid Making Asshole Moves at the Vet: A Tutorial

3 Feb

Imagine you’re at the doctor’s office waiting for your appointment and are feeling nervous. Then imagine a middle-aged man comes running up to you, sits uncomfortably close to you, and then proceeds to elbow you repeatedly while trying to make small talk while singing.  Most of us would be pretty annoyed, right?  So if this kind of behavior isn’t acceptable for humans, why do so many people let their dogs treat the vet waiting room like an unofficial dog park.

So here are some general rules that you should abide by while at the vet.  Failure to do so makes you Supreme Ultimate Asshole (and yes, there is a crown for that).

Like this, but with a giant dog turd on top

You’ve arrived at the vet and are now waiting for your turn in a waiting area covered with inspirational cat posters.  What should you do?


  1. Keep your dog on the damn leash.  For real.  And we mean the entire time too.


2. If you insist on using flexi-leads (and you know how we feel about those), lock the line.  No one wants to break an ankle on your tripwire-of-doom while you yap on your cell phone.

3. Ask permission before you let your dog approach another dog.  And if they say no, respect their choice and don’t force Princess Fluffypants on their petrified pooch.

And don’t think I won’t blame your dog.

4. The same goes for cats/critters in carriers.  Don’t be an asshole and let your dog harass little Bunny Foo Foo or the hissing cat in the cloth carrier.

5. If your dog isn’t okay with other animals or people in reasonable circumstances, request an appointment during quieter hours. If that’s not possible, bring a friend/someone who owes you money to sit inside as the place-holder to call you in from outside when it’s your turn. Even better get one of those nifty mobile vets who come to your house. It’s like a pizza delivery guy, but with more student loan debt.


So you waited, and sometimes waited and waited and now it’s Fluffy’s turn! Yes! It’s halfway over but wait… you still have rules to abide by.

  1. Is your dog a dick? Yes? Tell everyone who comes into the room. Repeat yourself until you think you may be annoying. If you are aware that your dog has the capacity to put a tooth through someone, not notifying them makes you a massive asshole. Bonus points for bringing your own muzzle and having it on before getting out of the car.

Better a duck than a dick

2. Look around. Is there a big-ass table in the middle of the room? Yes? Put your small/medium dog on it and hold them there. Really big dog? Hold off and wait for the vet. There may be some alternative arrangements for placement.

This is one alternative arrangement…

3. Have a question? Ask it no matter how stupid (And yes Virginia, there really are some incredibly stupid questions.) Better to be quietly snickered at later than accidentally harm your pet.

4. Be honest. If you are feeding for 70lb dachshund a rib roast with gravy every night for dinner, no one is going to believe “He just eats 1/8th of a cup and run two miles a day”. Most pet-owners’ lies are laughably unbelievable across the spectrum of animal industries so just don’t even try. Be an adult and take the lecture on your fat/unmedicated/benignly neglected dog.

And the vet tech too!

5. So help us God, do not ask for an arbitrary curative drug before the vet has even touched your pet. Veterinary medicine is certainly not straight-forward. While the novelty of the informed pet-owner imbues the average dog person with special status at their vet, that preferred status can be quickly lost by being ‘one of those’ owners. The needy pain-in-the-ass types. While you may be sure a round of steroids will clear up that phantom limp, treating your vet like an inconvenient pill-pusher won’t win you any friends or make your vet particularly inclined to assist you.

You did it. You survived the vet trip. Fido is healthy, happy and you had your questions answered and you followed our rules. Go team! But… there’s a few more things we should chat about….

  1. Don’t bash your vet if you intend to use them later on. If you still go to the practice and you didn’t bring it to the attention of the practice owner/manager it’s probably either not that important, not that serious or you may be being a bit of a special snowflake. The dog world especially is incredibly small. Calling your vet a jackass when you still go to them… not smart.
  2. Have a little perspective. Just because your vet doesn’t know the dosing of echinacea for your Persian’s sneeze or the Bone/Organ/Meat ratio for your raw fed dog,  doesn’t make them a bad vet, it makes them someone who has to google shit or look in a textbook like literally every other kind of doctor who is faced with something new. Vets will also make mistakes which a good one will cop to. It’s life, it sucks, it happens, we move on. They can also have bad days like everyone else.
  3. Bad vets exist. Rude, incompetent, nasty and plain old stupid people get into vet school too. We’ve yelled about them before and we probably will again. Most vets however, are not bad. If you attempt to treat all vets like they were bad, you will have a very difficult time finding a good one, and the constant in that equation is you.

So minions, what do you think?  What bad behavior have you seen at the vet?  Want to admit to being guilty of any of these?  We want to hear! 

102 Responses to “How to Avoid Making Asshole Moves at the Vet: A Tutorial”

  1. Joan February 3, 2015 at 2:03 am #

    thank you for pointing out that the waiting room is not a dog park. For one thing, dogs visit the vet for more than “wellness checks”–some of these dogs are ill, Would you let your toddler get in the face of a sneezing, coughing kid at the pediatrician’s office? I once spoke to a man after he twice let his Golden out to the end of his (unlocked) Flexi. The dog was very interested in meeting my intact male Standard Poodle. I’ve taught my dog to ignore other dogs in such situations, but this was pushing it. He isn’t always receptive to a strange dog getting in his face. When I asked the man (fairly nicely, I thought) to please control his dog, he started berating me loudly, and wouldn’t stop. The reception staff put me in an exam room, and the vet apologized and waived my fee. I told him to charge the idiot Golden owner double!

    • donnasoderstrom February 3, 2015 at 7:57 am #

      I teach a puppy class. and the rules are – no dogs play unless they are relaxed. I tell the new pup owners that our class is to prepare their dog to be nice in the vet’s waiting room. If the dog passes that test, he may be invited to play.

  2. Claire February 3, 2015 at 2:06 am #

    Re: Bad Vet staff, not vets
    We took our Boxer to our vet after two days after we adopted him. Poor guy was nervous, understandably. The vet tech we got was a closet sadist, in my opinion. She rammed the thermometer all the way into my poor dog’s rear end, instead of the standard few centimeters before we could stop her. He bled and then make a Jackson Pollock on the floor. I was so angry at her! A few months later our vet left that practice and we left too. There are some really disturbed people out there masquerading as pet professionals!!! Our new vet and his techs are wonderful and completely understand why Simon is “temperature shy”.

  3. Dana February 3, 2015 at 2:13 am #

    My favorite as a vet tech was “fluffy has never done that before!!” LIARS fluffy bites fluffy bites every time he’s here!! There is a reason I enter the room with a muzzle in hand! Or “fluffy only gets 1 cup of food twice per day” (fluffy is a fat lab who’s thyroid is normal.) “How big is your cup?” “Oh you know” making hand gestures “umm what??” “A McDonald’s supersize cup” that is not a cup!!!

    • pommom101690 February 3, 2015 at 3:10 pm #

      Every time we go in, I tell vet techs my 17 year old Chi bites. Every time, they don’t listen. Every time, they get bitten. At least I tried, right?

      • Lisa February 3, 2015 at 6:23 pm #

        LOL…I had a 10 year old, bite trained, GSD on steroids. I brought his muzzle and warned EVERYONE to stay back until sedated. Guess what stupid vet #1 did? Yup! Got down at his face level and tried to pet him on the head. Thankfully she didn’t need stitches and we chose another vet that day!

      • Butch February 3, 2015 at 9:53 pm #

        Well next time stick a muzzle on it, and slap yourself for not training it better.

      • pommom101690 February 4, 2015 at 3:42 pm #

        Hey there Butch! I have only had the dog a few months, and he’s older than God and he only weighs 3lbs and he has 7 teeth left. I really don’t see much point in training him at this point. If I tell you my dog doesn’t like something and you do it anyway, you’ve been warned. But for reals, next time I want someone who doesn’t know my dog to tell me how to handle him, I assure you, you’ll be the first one I call

      • Lisa Duskis February 5, 2015 at 3:27 am #

        As a vet tech : if you know your dog may potentially bite, and you have a muzzle – put the muzzle on before coming into the clinic. Not in the exam room, not in the waiting room.

        I too have a GSD that may or may not bite. She’s a guard dog, after all. She’s muzzled the moment she’s in the car.

        Common sense, and then it protects everyone. I’m used to being bitten. I work with wild animals daily. You can’t muzzle them, and it comes with the territory. But us staff, in any clinic, no doubt get more than a little perturbed if someone comes in with a known biter, muzzle in hand, and doesn’t muzzle the dog.

        That dog is gonna be more receptive to the owner/handler putting on that muzzle than one of us – essentially complete strangers.

      • Victoria Cossou February 5, 2015 at 8:15 pm #

        Maybe you should muzzle him before you go in. Just a suggestion.

      • Valerie February 6, 2015 at 1:40 pm #

        Being that vet tech that gets bitten, we still appreciate the heads up!

      • Carol February 18, 2015 at 12:48 am #

        “I had a 10 year old, bite trained, GSD on steroids. I brought his muzzle and warned EVERYONE to stay back until sedated.” Um really? Yeah, the muzzle should have been on before you walked in the door. And a bite ‘trained’ dog is not an excuse for a dog with an iffy temperament. Bite trained = bites when commanded to bite, not when dog feels nervous. You and the clueless vet are indeed very very lucky. I hope you both learned some valuable lessons here.

  4. Rosemary February 3, 2015 at 2:15 am #

    Don’t treat the vet’s staff rudely. These are the people who will try to squeeze you in for an appointment at the last minute, are very careful to not feed your dog before it has surgery, etc.

    I once was new, working in a clinic where a long-time client would stand at the counter and deliberately say nothing. It was only when an older employee grabbed her dog’s chart and explained that she expected everyone to know her by sight, that it made (non)sense.

    • mindy mallette February 3, 2015 at 2:43 am #

      please add: my dog may be small and fluffy and look like a cute toy, but she has been projectile vomiting and running a fever so pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeese don’t look the other way when your kids keep grabbing at her, even after I’ve asked them to stop.

    • Angela February 3, 2015 at 3:46 am #

      Yes. They’re also the once that hug you when you leave without your dog that last time and the ones that send you sympathy cards after.

      • Margaret February 3, 2015 at 2:59 pm #

        Yes!!! My vet was beyond wonderful to me and Phoenix when I had to put her down in November. He even had tears in his eyes and that touched me so much. He was the biscuit man and my dogs all adored him, especially Phoenix, whose sits couldn’t have been better or faster than when in his office and sitting in front of the biscuit bag.

  5. Vet Assistant February 3, 2015 at 2:27 am #

    Answering a call while the assistant/technician is taking your pet’s history. There is a cell phone sign on the wall for a reason! You’re wasting my time and your time by talking about stuff that is not an emergency! I have weighed a patient, gotten them in the room, got out stuff for the appointment, and ended up leaving the room and coming back later because someone couldn’t get off the phone. You’re there for your pet, at least let us find out why!

  6. Jamie More February 3, 2015 at 2:30 am #

    As a veterinary technician- thank you. Just Thank You.

  7. RNB February 3, 2015 at 2:34 am #

    Don’t make small talk to other owners unless they give you some kind of a sign they want to talk. I’ll usually get a magazine and read it. A magazine should be a pretty good signal for other people to fuck off, but not this one man. He came up to me, and told me to just apply for Obamacare, because the socialists will take care of my dog’s vet bills for me. 1. I don’t give a shit about your politics. 2. I was at the vet to get xrays done for my Doberman, who’d started limping. On the best day of my life, I will never discuss politics with some dude I don’t know. On a shitty day with a sick dog, I don’t want to talk to you at all. It’s a vet’s office, not a bar. Go socialize somewhere else.

    • Carol February 18, 2015 at 12:52 am #

      Applause applause and I so agree!

  8. Catherine Duke February 3, 2015 at 3:13 am #

    I love you guys so much.

    I will never forget sitting in the waiting room at a clinic that was both a regular hospital and an E-clinic with my 16 year old dog who already had dog and human aggression problems and had just painfully damaged an eye.

    She was in a down-stay in the farthest corner of the waiting room, shaking, watching me intently and generally, you know…trying not to panic from the pain and the being at the vet’s office when some douchenozzle traipses out from an exam room with an adolescent lab on a flexi leash with 10+ feet of slack.

    To this day I can’t believe I held my tongue as I body-blocked that idiotic lab from pouncing my miserable dog while its idiotic owner babbled away at the front desk staff. Thank the gods my vet walked by and whisked me into a room before I went off.

    To this day I get irritated when I see adolescent labs….though whether it’s because of that incident or because they are adolescent labs is hard to say. 😉

  9. PaperPapillon February 3, 2015 at 3:32 am #

    Amen…as a Vet Tech I can’t agree more. If given the chance, I could write a 200 page essay on “What NOT to do at the Vet.”

    That being said, let me give some words of wisdom – **Be NICE to your vet tech/vet staff!!** I’d venture to say 95% of (nonsurgical) procedures, treatments, medication administration, cleanup, etc is done by the techs/assistants! Vet gives the orders, techs/assistants DO them. The nicer you are to me and my coworkers, the nicer we are to your unruly, untrained dog or cat. And please don’t act like we don’t know what we’re doing. We do…really.

    And regarding point #4, one of my dogs actually does eat 1/8 cup twice daily and run 2 miles almost daily. (Yep really, just ask the papillons! LOL)

  10. Phoebe February 3, 2015 at 3:58 am #

    Guilty. My dog goes insta-hyper the second she enters the vet’s office; you wouldn’t think that we ever trained her – it is embarrassing. We always take the last appointment of the day so no one is there while she is trying to get to the treat jar and sniffing every inch of the floor.
    As for me – well…ummmm…I am not sure if the vet thinks I am psycho, an ass or a good “patient” – I usually arrive with copious, yet pertinent and objective notes (no self-diagnosing) and pictures of gross things like slimy poop (beats trying to describe it). It saves me money on a bunch of basic “rule out” tests. Do you think that is being an ass? I feel like one.

    • Julie February 5, 2015 at 5:49 am #

      You absolutely are not being an ass, Phoebe! Having copious notes is way better than getting blank stares when trying to get a history! 🙂

    • Beez February 5, 2015 at 12:01 pm #

      I personally dislike it when clients show me poop pictures. I know what poop looks like. I see and clean up an unbelievable amount of poop day in and day out – normal, loose, watery, bloody, big poop, little poop, all the poop. I don’t need to see any extra poop. And I’ve never seen a picture of a stool sample that made us change the treatment or diagnosis. I mean, if your dog’s poop is electric blue or you actually see something remarkable IN the poop, by all means show me a photo. Otherwise it doesn’t really make that much of a difference.

      That said, it doesn’t make you an ass at all. It means you love your dog and you’re trying to be thorough. Of all the things, I’d much rather someone show me an unnecessary poop picture. Plus, it’s my job to know what’s medically significant, not yours, so TMI away.

      Also the note-taking thing doesn’t make you an ass either. On the opposite end of the spectrum we have people who come in and don’t really know anything about their dog, they can’t answer any questions, that is always frustrating.

  11. donnasoderstrom February 3, 2015 at 7:50 am #

    I have a wonderful vet who gave me superb end of life care for 2 dogs. Amazingly good. A few dogs later, with a 4 yr old who had been so healthy, so there wasn’t much of relationship, he pronounced her new aggression as a behavior problem. (I knew it was a medical issue.) Well, I am a trainer, so that smarts. But I know that aggression does not blossom out of nowhere at age 4. Long story – ovarian cancer. She died a few months later. RE, CDX, JH. A really cool, together dog. 5 other vets missed it, too, as is common with this disease. So what did I do? I am back with him. Would I have liked a real apology? Yep. But this is the guy who called me from his father’s 90th birthday party to check in on my end stage girl. Go for the big picture , folks. Vet med is tough, not nearly as lucrative as similar fields.

    • pommom101690 February 3, 2015 at 3:05 pm #

      I wonder if most of your vet’s patients are spayed. If they are, it might be why he missed that as an option. He might just not be familiar with it.

      I hate he missed that, but he does seem like a phenomenal person. I wonder, at that point, if he had diagnosed it correctly, would there have been any reasonable treatments options? I would think by the time it starts affecting personalities, it’s end stage, but I don’t know much about ovarian cancer.

      • pommom101690 February 3, 2015 at 3:06 pm #

        I’m also terribly sorry that you experienced this. I can’t imagine. I do hope that your vet learned from this. Maybe it will save other dogs lives in the future. 😦

      • pommom101690 February 5, 2015 at 9:43 pm #

        I will say that when a previously well-tempered dog goes off the handle for no apparent reason, I always suggest they see a vet first, to rule out any medical issue. While I agree that ovarian cancer would have been a stretch to diagnose, I think he could have apologized for missing it.

        My vet said my 14 year old Chi had a disc issue, although I said time and time again I thought this was a brain issue, not a spinal cord issue.

        I took him in for a myleogram to confirm it was his back, but all the vets at this practice agreed it was his brain.

        My vet happened to have him on drugs that treated both, though, so that was good.

        I wasn’t upset with him, because his diagnosis wasn’t farfetched, but he still apologized that he got it wrong.

        Sometimes, your clients aren’t just emotional idiots. We know our dogs better than you do. We live with them every day. On occasion, we do get it right, when vets get it wrong.

    • DVMSara February 4, 2015 at 10:07 pm #

      I’m sorry, I have to stick up for a fellow vet. You “knew” it was a medical issue how? Yes, it IS possible to have a dog develop behavioral issues at an older age (many times there is a triggering event, though you may not be able to determine what it is). If she had no other symptoms, there’s no reason for a vet to go on a wild goose chase for a rare condition like an ovarian tumor. As we were taught in vet school, “when you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.” That said, I WILL normally run at least some bloodwork (CBC/Chem/thyroid) if a new behavior crops up, but that wouldn’t show cancer anyway.

      • DVMSara February 4, 2015 at 10:08 pm #

        P.S. I’m glad you still like him and stuck with him, I just really don’t think he owes you an apology.

    • BAA February 7, 2015 at 3:46 am #

      Ovarian cancer is missed COMMONLY in later stages in humans also. Dogs and cats should all be spayed or neutered. If you insist on breeding, then spay/neuter them after the last litter. If she had been spayed, there wouldnt have been any ovaries to get cancer. That being said, I am truly sorry for the loss of your pooch.

  12. Me February 3, 2015 at 1:39 pm #

    I don’t expect hand-holding, except… when my dog is at the end of her life and the staff refuses to come to our house to let her go. We had been clients for 6 years with our pet, we lived 5 minutes away, I was flexible about them coming at any time, I was willing to pay extra and yet I still had to wait while the tech went in back and asked the doctors and they all said no.

    I finally had one doctor agree to come, in a hurry, after the weekend on her lunch hour. Afterward, no sympathy card, even though they routinely sent them out to other patients. Um, did I make you mad with a home euthanasia request? I couldn’t give a fig about a sympathy card or even a follow up call or even an “I’m sorry for your loss” at my house. But really, letting my poor dog barely make it through the weekend, propped up by IV fluids, because no one wanted to come on a weekend, either?

    Even though they’re a few blocks away from home, they’re no longer my vet. Dogs may come and go to them, but it is a HUGE deal to an owner. Home euthanasia is the least I can do for my pets if it’s at all possible. Why wouldn’t they want to peacefully pass at home with their family?

    • Me February 3, 2015 at 1:59 pm #

      You know, I regret leaving the comment above but I don’t see a way to delete it. I still feel like a baby, nearly a year later, for being upset. The office had been decent up to that point – they have a lovely receptionist, they were good to my dog and they were always easy to visit. We didn’t get the same vet each time, and I was flexible with that, but I wonder if that’s why none of them felt a particular connection to us when it was time for what seems to be an unusual request? Despite my anger above, I was a good client. I didn’t even give them a hassle for their cold policy toward home euthanasia. At that point I was fighting back tears during nearly all of our conversations, anyway. I have debated contacting them again to explain how important it is for clients to have a home option at the end of their dog’s life, but I’m not sure how to say it without sounding like a whiner. Besides, if they aren’t sensitive to it already, after years in practice, will they suddenly be receptive? Or maybe there’s a fantastic reason that I’m missing for why they don’t like to do home euthanasia. Maybe they’ve had some terrible experiences? Or maybe they worry that word would get out and they’d be pressured to do daily HEs? I need to just drop it, I guess, but it’s still a wound a year later.

      • JGillaspie February 4, 2015 at 2:08 am #

        I don’t think you should feel bad for your comments. I would feel the same way. One of my commitments to my animals is the right to end their life at home, regardless of the cost or inconvenience. Knowing they passed peacefully at home means so much more than a sympathy card from the vet’s office–especially when that is followed by an auto-generated reminder for their wellness check a year later.

      • Ashley February 4, 2015 at 2:26 am #

        Most vets don’t do house calls. There are vets that do, and there are also vets that do nothing but house calls. Also, in some states there are restrictions on transporting controlled substances from the premise they are licensed at through the DEA. So it’s possible that they were concerned with that or that as a business that’s not something they do.

      • Brenda February 4, 2015 at 4:26 am #

        Me: As a vet who has done two house call euthanasia so in my 20 years of practice, I can tell you it takes a special vet to provide this service with skill and compassion. Kind of how special people are needed to do hospice care. There are now veterinarians whose only practice is home euthanasia. I am so sorry for your loss and pain, but I would have said no to you too because I cannot handle such an emotional drain. I take the life of someone’s pet at least once a week, to do that in someone’s home is no small request.

      • pommom101690 February 4, 2015 at 3:50 pm #

        I don’t blame you at all for being upset. My vet doesn’t typically do housecalls, but he does make exceptions for things like this. None of my animals are in need of this service right now, thank God, but I did specifically ask if he would be willing to do that when the time comes. He said yes.

        I can understand if your state places restrictions on this practice.

        Brenda, I have to disagree with you. I can’t imagine that you coming to euthanize my dog, who I have had for years, is harder on you, who sees my dog a few times a year, than it is for me to bring my dog in, a crying hot mess. Vet medicine isn’t all roses and being the hero. Sure, it’s great when you get to do that, but I think, as a vet, you signed up for the good, the bad, and the ugly. It is your choice whether you offer that service, but I wouldn’t use a vet that didn’t. With 8 dogs, 4 cats, and a revolving door of fosters, I would be willing to bet, I pay my vet;s house note every month. After I have given them that kind of business, I expect them to do their job and comfort me when it’s time to let me pets go.

        There are plenty of vets that don’t want to deal with this part of vet medicine. Those vets are generally surgeons. You don’t have to be nice to be a surgeon. You just have to be good.

      • DVMSara February 4, 2015 at 10:33 pm #

        You don’t need to feel bad about posting, but please don’t take their “no house call” policy personally. I assure you it has NOTHING to do with not “having a particular connection” with you or your pet. There are many reasons (both logistical and emotional) that MOST vets do not provide this service. It requires the loss of both a vet and a tech for probably at least 3 times the amount of time that an in-clinic euthanasia takes. In general it is also just easier to do procedures in the clinic where we have good lighting, and all the equipment we may need close at hand. In general, euthanasias are uncomfortable in any circumstance, but much MORE uncomfortable if one is “out of their element.” I have also heard some horror stories from in-home euths–not being able to hit a vein, the pet staying alive even after receiving the euth solution, and the vet not having enough extra with them to “finish,” pets being aggressive or not allowing the needed handling (in the clinic, we have meds that we can give to sedate first in this circumstance, but these are not always brought on house calls), etc. Lastly, there is something much more personal and emotional about doing it in someone’s home, which can be a good thing and a bad thing (some vets like it and that is all they do). I just resent that someone would essentially say to me, “It’s part of the job you signed up for–suck it up!” as pommom did.

        There is only one vet out of the 3 in our practice who does house calls (both euthanasias and routine things), and it’s very rare–usually longterm clients and/or elederly folks who don’t have transportation and/or dogs that have a legitimate reason for not coming to the clinic (i.e. we have 1 or 2 dogs have seizures triggered by anxiety whenever they come in). We don’t advertise it because it IS a big drain and inconvenience to the clinic to have him and a tech gone–we are often understaffed with techs as it is. I WOULD hope that most clinics, if they don’t offer the service, would refer you to someone who does (unless you’re in a small town, there’s usually SOMEONE around who does). Anyway, sorry for writing a book, and I’m very sorry for your loss.

      • Allison February 5, 2015 at 2:23 am #

        Home euthanasia is more difficult than it seems. Usually it entails a veterinarian and another staff member to work after hours. It also means a veterinarian has to transport schedule 2 controlled substances in their car. Most veterinary malpractice insurance does not cover providing a medical service outside of the clinic, therefore vets taking on at home euthanasia procedures are at more of a risk for liability than if it is done in the hospital. That being said, my office still does them upon request, for established clients only. I have assisted in several of them because I think it’s important to do so.


      • Catherine February 5, 2015 at 2:45 am #

        As much as they may have felt an emotional connection with your pet, they feel an emotional connection with many people’s pets. All of them are special and we grow to love SO many of them. I worked in a busy clinic that performed euthanasia at least 3 times a week, usually more. It is not easy in the clinic with our support team there for us, even harder in someone else’s home. It’s not easy for you either and we understand and empathize with that. You are right, we are not losing our loved family member.

        But please recognize that joining into the Vet field does not mean you give up your entire outside life and sense of emotional well-being. We are still human, just like you. The veterinarians that try to please everyone burn out physically and emotionally very quickly. The veterinary field is a mix of love and work, but remember work is still in there. Sometimes we need to make hard decisions to keep ourselves together. That may mean not going to your home for euthanasia visits when requested.

        Also, please recognize that this request that you put forth to your veterinary practice was not the first time they have heard it, and certainly not the last. Where I worked we used to get that request multiple times a week, though for us we were very clear about why it had to be a no. So, on that I am sorry you do not know why it was a no from your practice. For us, these requests would come from people and pets we had been seeing a long time that were very special to us, but a line must be drawn somewhere if we want to go home at the end of the day, and we also need to go home at the end of the day.

        Last, we want to provide as easy an experience as possible for you to say goodbye to your pet. We want you to be able to say goodbye and remember their best moments before everything else that has happened. Being in a clinic with all the tools, comfy blankets, treats, tissues, and supportive staff allows a very sad process to move more smoothly. Allowing us to have our clinic at our disposal can help us help you avoid the messier aspects of death. We cannot always make your pet better and certainly cannot prevent age, but we can try our best to give peace.

        I hope for your future visits that you find someone willing to come to your home and make this transition easier for you. If the location is that important to you, it would be best to be clear about this wish very early on so you do not have to go through being told no at such a hard time. And I hope I have shed some light on why it is not such a cut and dry decision to be made.

      • Jaci February 5, 2015 at 2:56 am #

        As a vet who does routinely make house calls, our most requested purpose is for euthanasia and hospice requests. We do see a number of patients for routine stuff too, especially for large dogs. We do have limited restrictions on when we are available for such calls, however, due to our in-office schedule (days with only one doctor in the office makes it more difficult to schedule house calls, Saturdays we do not provide this service except on emergency, etc). There are certain rules and regulations regarding controlled substances, and they are ever changing, and so this also plays a part. Contrary to what some people think, euthanasia does affect us more than what anyone can imagine. There is a reason veterinarians are the profession with the highest suicide rate. There are days where we perform 15 euthanasias in 48 hours, and days we do none. Sometimes we are the only ones there to comfort the pets in the end, sometimes we are comforting the pets and the families, sometimes we have been there for the pet longer than the family has. So for people to say it’s not hard on us is just untrue. Home euthanasia is not for everyone, and it cannot be EXPECTED of every vet to perform this service. Unless you have been there and felt the guilt, the pain, the emotion of performing multiplie euthanasias every day, don’t be degrading the services your vet does perform. Most likely, there is a vet around you can call for such a service.

      • A vet February 5, 2015 at 6:57 am #

        I am truly sorry for your pain but as a professional, I’m suggesting you let this one go. There are many reasons why they (and I) would refuse at home euthanasias. Are you prepared to adequately restrain your dog? Is your dog nice? Do they place catheters? Are you prepared to foot the financial cost of the time for the vet and likely a technician? Are you super well known, or are you a potential psycho? (Yes, real concern for house call vets.) Are you maybe a drug seeker? Have you paid all your bills in full, or ever been delinquent? Perhaps the vet’s insurance doesn’t cover out of office procedures. Additionally there is the fact that euthanasia solution is a controlled substance and for a while, it was illegal to transport controlled substances in private vehicles. Veterinary exceptions have been sought, and I think were passed but, honestly, I’m not 100% sure because I don’t do ambulatory practice. As I said, tons of reasons, up to & including they just didn’t want to. In 11 years, I’ve done zero companion animal at home euthanasias. And I anticipate that number won’t change any time soon. I’m sorry if that seems heartless to you.
        Some markets have ambulatory small animal vets & at home euthanasia services. Expecting your vets (who you admit you don’t have that deep of a connection with) to come to your house is totally unreasonable. I would have said no, too.

      • medsocialworker February 5, 2015 at 7:33 pm #

        I totally get what Brenda is saying.I’m a social worker with many connections to hospice. Hospital social work is my specialty. While I know very little about the runnings of veterinary offices and practices I do understand how difficult it can be on doctors and nurses to deal with the the emotions that come with end of life care. I’m guessing most vets don’t have social workers on staff where as hospitals and hospices do. The role of the social worker is to provide the needed support to the family as well as checking in with the doctors and nurses to make sure they are doing okay.Social workers have the training that helps us avoid the emotional drain Brenda so eloquently describes. Pommom your feelings are valid however, if you put yourself in the shoes of Brenda and preform a procedure that is so emotionally taxing it puts you on your butt for the rest of the day how many other clients are you missing out on helping. I get both sides I just really understand Brenda’s stance and see it as absolutely valid and understandable and a real reason not to do HE(s).

      • Me February 11, 2015 at 7:14 pm #

        I have to say that you all have done me such a wonderful service in responding. Your replies are thoughtful and compassionate, no matter which “side” of the issue you’re on. Even if you said your comments more bluntly than the person before you 🙂 you still took the time to write and I thank you.

        I had no idea how idea how hard euthenasias are on vets. I assumed they either had a zen, philosophical view toward them or they took a cold view, based on my vet’s reaction. Now I can see I was being unrealistic (the zen part) and childish (the cold part). Of course the vet won’t feel the death of my pet as strongly as I do, but the tradeoff is that I don’t have to deal with a pet’s death several times a week. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to deal with that.

        And the practical considerations are an eye-opener, as well. The time spent, the potential liability, legal issues, the possibility of something going wrong, the personal danger, etc. I had no idea. Truly, truly an eye-opener. God bless you to the vets who take a leap of faith and do it anyway, but to those who don’t, I can truly say that I understand why you don’t now. Thank you for sharing the information, at the risk of seeming less than compassionate.

        It’s hard that this is such an either-or situation. I’m not sure what is a satisfactory compromise. To the owner, it feels like you have one chance to say goodbye. The thought of bringing in my dog to a place that has always caused them anxiety, is causing them more anxiety now and making them tremble and be distracted during our last time together as we wait for our turn (where at home they’d be resting in their favorite spot of all time), where the weather on the way might be terrible (wet weak dog, anyone?), where there’s cold, echo-y stainless steel everywhere, where other waiting animals are scared or barking, where lingering scents are there from previous animals who have pooped and peed in fear, where staff just having a regular work day drop things, laugh at office jokes, answer calls loudly and people in the waiting room (if you have to enter that way) expect you to answer general friendly questions about your dog when it’s your last time together.

        You know as you say goodbye that you can’t really be emotionally open because you have to walk your tear-stained self in whatever condition you’re in past staff or clients and even if you can make it out to your car with dignity, you have to get a grip on yourself through held-back sobbing tears in the driver’s seat. You can’t stay in the exam room – they need it for other patients. And that horribly lonely, devastating moment when you realize that your pet is gone and will never be back, ever, and you have no idea where they are now and what really happens to them next and… you’re in an office. With nothing familiar and comforting and no where to hide and bawl like an idiot.

        On the other hand, knowing what I know now from these comments, I would feel ridiculously unfair asking my well-meaning vet to take on all of the challenges they need to in order to make home euthanasia happen. (And I can finally let go of the anger I felt toward my old vet practice, so thank you all.) I had no idea.

        So, what’s the answer? God bless you for offering this service full time, I believe?, Dr. Amy, as a house-call hospice vet. I don’t believe our city (Toledo) has a service like this, but I need to look into it. Maybe that’s the way to go if I need it again. Someone who is willing to do it and answer everyone’s prayers – owner and vet. If not, I’m still not sure what the absolute best solution is, but I’m going to be evaluating it with very different eyes now. Thank you all.

    • Cec February 4, 2015 at 8:21 pm #

      Don’t feel bad about your comments- we can tell it is a wound for you. I write this not as a defense for your vet, but to hopefully help soften that wound for you a little, as there may be other reasons why your vets were reluctant to come out to your home for the euthanasia other than they just didn’t have “that bond” with you or your pet. As some have said, there may be restrictions in some states for transport of controlled substances. As another stated, this is a very emotional thing for both the owners and the vet involved. We are taking a life, which is not easy- despite if we cry or not, believe me, we feel it. And I can tell you as someone who has performed home euthanasias, it can be even more powerful at the person’s/pet’s home. Some times it is to protect the vet and staff from this emotional roller coaster. There are also practical reasons why some vets prefer to do it in office. Number 1- a lot of times there is just no room in the schedule. What may have been 30min. in-hospital, is now about 60-90min with travel time, prep work, not skipping out too fast on the people to be sure they are ok, etc. Even with 3 doctors working at a time, we have been busy enough to not be able to give up one doctor for this. Number 2, let’s face it, sometimes you just have a bad venipuncture day and the vet may be more comfortable being in the hospital where there are more helpful tools, assistants or even other vets that may be able to step in if needed in case something did not go as desired. There is nothing worse than trying to humanely and delicately end a pet’s suffering and it is not going well- especially if it in is their home. Number 3, even an after-hours home visit has it’s downside. It may not be hindering the schedule, but as I said above, we spend a lot of time at work 10-12hour days, so to devote another 60-90min to work after hours when we have families waiting on us as well is not an easy thing to do. We do not mean to be cruel in this, but everyone who works hard should have some idea of what that is like. That’s why most vets try to accomodate as much as possible, even if the best they can do is offer it in the hospital during office hours. Again, I don’t know what the exact reasons were for your situation, but they may not be as “personal” as what you think on the side of the vet, though I know they were quite personal for you. I hope it does not sour your taste for the veterinary field- we are mostly the kind-hearted, animal loving people you would hope to find.

    • Dr. Amy February 5, 2015 at 8:44 pm #

      First, I’m so sorry for your loss. It is true grief and takes it’s own time to soften.

      As a house-call hospice vet, I have to tell you, what I do is a specialty. I deal with grief, anger, denial, bargaining…the whole shebang. And that’s just the *client*, not the patient.
      I have a whole set of skills to deal with the patient by myself, without a tech. I have specialty liability insurance, which has nothing to do with the patient. What if I knock over a candle and set your house on fire? Knock over that Ming vase? Bump your elderly grandmother who falls and breaks a hip?
      Also, there are strict drug handling protocols, which change constantly. I have a particular protocol for euthanasia, that takes a certain amount of *time*, which most vets don’t have. It’s NOT wham-bam-thank you ma’am.

      Frankly, I am shocked that any clinical vets would do a home euthanasia at all. I couldn’t imagine going out on a call and then returning to the clinic to deal with cranky Mrs. Crankypants, or the new puppy wellness check with the big, happy family. Way too much emotional ping-pong.

      So, cut your vet some slack. Home hospice/euthanasia is a whole other skill set that is unfair to expect them to be comfortable with.

    • pommom101690 February 5, 2015 at 9:56 pm #

      DVMSara, I clearly said that it’s totally up to you and your practice whether you offer those services. If you don’t, that’s fine. I just wouldn’t use a vet that wouldn’t do that. That’s my choice.

      I still stand by the fact that I don’t think it’s as hard for you to euthanize my dog as it is for me to lose a dog that I shared my life with for several years. I also stand by the fact that everyone has part of their jobs they don’t like.

      I will say that I don’t envy vets. I love animals, and I considered being a vet. I decided that I would be broke because I couldn’t refuse services to someone because of their inability to pay. I also didn’t want a career where emotions run so high. For this reason, I am an accountant.

      • DVMSara February 9, 2015 at 3:49 pm #

        Pommom, it just seemed like you were implying that a vet who doesn’t do home euthanasias is not a good vet. I don’t believe anyone was implying that it’s harder for the vet than for the family when an individual pet is euthanized. It’s just that vets have to do it day in and day out, sometimes in very frustrating cases where we probably COULD help the pet, but the owner doesn’t allow us to (either due to finances or just because they don’t want to). It’s not just that we “don’t like” that part of the job–it genuinely takes an emotional toll (it’s part of what’s called “compassion fatigue”), and is part of the reason vet suicide rate is so high.

  13. Jackie February 3, 2015 at 2:23 pm #

    Thank you! We had our sometimes dog aggressive foster at the vet for vaccines, empty waiting room when we got there because we scheduled it that way. On the way out, the waiting room was still empty when we started to check out and I *thought* we were home free. And then… in walks Mr Oblivious with an exuberant golden on a stretched out flexi-lead. :-/ Of course, it headed straight for the only other dog in the room. I body blocked our foster into the corner, while my partner told him to reel his dog in. We came out of the corner, and he let the leash out again!!! *insert angry face* Cue my partners ninja like reflexes for sticking her crutch between the out of control, essentially un-leashed dog and our foster who was, up to the last 2 inches, sitting and quivering at my feet. I’ve never been so close to letting another patron at the vet have a quite large piece of my mind.

  14. Pam February 3, 2015 at 2:53 pm #

    There are breeds that should not necessarily be put on a table immediately–those who are prone to bad backs. My vets usually see my bassets on the floor because of this. An exception is a vet who has one of those nifty tables where the dog can get on board near the floor and be automatically raised up to the vet’s level.

  15. D. K. Wall & The Thundering Herd February 3, 2015 at 2:53 pm #

    We have a terrific vet practice that takes care of us so well.

    Love all of your pointers, but especially wanted to comment on that last section, item 2 – vets who have to look things up. One of my favorite parts of working with both my specific vet, as well as the entire practice (other vets, vet techs, staff, etc.) – they are perfectly comfortable stating they do not know something and want to research it / consult with a colleague or specialist. That doesn’t disappoint me – that encourages me.

    The only people whom I have ever met who knew everything . . . knew very little. Those people who can admit what they don’t know are, by far, the most confident, knowledgeable people I know.

    So when my vet says, I know this . . . I believe her without question. And when she says I don’t know . . . I am positive that she is going to take the time to get me the correct answer.

    Thanks for the article.

    • catherineduke February 3, 2015 at 5:05 pm #

      Yes yes yes! I’ve worked as an RVT in three different hospitals, and the only vets I’ve worked with who I wouldn’t be comfortable taking my pets to are the ones who won’t admit when they need to do some research or ask a colleague. I’ve seen some amazing things happen when two or three doctors put their heads together over an especially puzzling patient!

  16. pommom101690 February 3, 2015 at 3:01 pm #

    I am totally guilty of #5 on the second list. I have a terrible time not basically telling my vet what to do. 99% of the time, I am right though. I feel bad, because sometimes I do use him as a pill pusher and surgeon. 😦

    He’s a wonderful vet. I have used him for years. I don’t know if it bothers him that I am how I am, but with 8 dogs (mostly seniors) and 4 cats, I feel like I pay his house note, so I’m sure he overlooks some of it.

    I definitely don’t have more knowledge than my vet, but I do know my pets better than he or any other vet does. He sees them a few times a year. I see them every day. I really like my vet because he recognizes this and does listen to my concerns.

    Also, under is your dog a dick…yes. I have one that is a total dick. The 17 year old Chi weighs 3lbs, and he has the nastiest attitude, but he’s old and tiny, so I just let him do him. Every time I go in, I tell them that he will bite he needs a muzzle. It never fails some vet tech doesn’t believe and goes to reach for him and he bites. Maybe we need a muzzle, they say. Oh really, dipshit? Right, because I didn’t just tell you that.

    And #5 on the first list, we had a very scary experience with that very thing. This guy brought in a dog that he clearly couldn’t control. It looked like some kind of chow mix. Big fluffy guy. This dog needed a muzzle like yesterday. He was snarling and lunging. It’s dogs and owners like these that make me sit as far away from the door as possible.

    • seabrooksr February 4, 2015 at 2:25 pm #

      One of my dogs is a dick too. I can’t blame the vet staff for being terribly confused, my other dog is an angel. The last time the angel and I visited the vet, the three legged mascot cat came over and they ended up curled up and napping together in a sunny spot while all sorts of busy vet clinic chaos happened around them. They had never met before, but sweet souls recognize each other I guess. The staff was amazed.

      On the other hand, my demon spent his first time in the waiting room barking furiously in a twitchy anxiety-driven panic attack. If he could have got his teeth in something, he would have. With lots of work, and new life experiences, he is somewhat reasonable with strangers, and will let them handle him under certain circumstances. That said, I own muzzleS, plural, and I bring them with me so that I don’t need to warn anyone or ask the staff to use one. No chance for misunderstandings then.

      I will totally admit I ordered the duck muzzle off of ebay after seeing it on this site. The plain black muzzle I owned had a tendancy not to be noticed on a cute, fluffy papillon with a black muzzle. People would charge up to him, only to dart away. Or worse, they would let their dogs come up to him, sometimes even if they had seen the muzzle, because he couldn’t bite them!

      The caution-yellow one was better, but often made people act scared, nervous, and twitchy around him, which only reinforced his fear-aggression. I tried not to promise anyone that he could not bite them while muzzled on a six foot lead sitting beside me but it was a near thing. I actually liked it better when they were busy giving me the stink-eye and judging me for having an aggressive dog, then they were more calm and confident with him, and he would settle down faster, and behave better, even if they wrote my name on the naughty list as soon as I was out the door.

      The duck muzzle is even better! People get a look at it and laugh, and and then they VERY carefully approach the CRAZY LADY. There are no stupid questions; i.e. can I pet your dog. In fact, everything they say is carefully worded on the grounds that I might be psycho. The dog, despite wearing a yellow duck bill, is totally ignored while they try to probe exactly how nuts I am. I like it.

      • pommom101690 February 4, 2015 at 3:56 pm #

        With Cowboy being 16-17 years old, weighing just 3lbs, and having 6 or 7 teeth left, he isn’t a huge public safety threat, but he thrashes about and gives it his best college try when they handle him.

        They actually don’t make muzzles small enough to fit him. The vet puts a kitten muzzle on him.

        It’s funny though because the staff is obsessed with him. They still want to hold him and get excited when he comes in. I’m like he bites you EVERY TIME!

        Cowboy doesn’t bite everyone, but he’s a grumpy old man. He loves me, but that’s about it.

        My other Chi is 14 with two teeth. He is the sweetest nugget. They can take blood, do xrays, whatever. He never makes a peep.

    • KMF76 February 5, 2015 at 6:42 am #

      Wait. You are complaining about someone not muzzling thier dog after admitting you don’t? And your dog has a bite history?

      Maybe you should be responsible and buy/utilize your own muzzle. Then you may have a case to point at others.

      • pommom101690 February 5, 2015 at 10:07 pm #

        MY DOG IS 17, WEIGHS 3lbs, AND HAS 6 OR 7 TEETH!!!!

        How can I make that any more clear? I really wish people would learn how to read. He stays in my arms or his carrier while we are in the waiting room. He isn’t going to maul anyone.

        There is a huge difference in my Chi (again with very few teeth) who is RESTRAINED and an 80lb dog snarling and snapping while dragging his owner around the lobby. My dog isn’t a threat to the general public. He doesn’t run amuck in the office. He can’t even draw blood. He gums the vet tech, but him thrashing about trying to bite is what causes the issues.

        I have also said that they don’t make a muzzle small enough to fit him, but I see no point in making him wait in the lobby in a muzzle, stressing him out further when he is already declining in health, when he doesn’t bother anyone in the waiting room.

        But, my all means, let’s worry about the tiny, almost toothless, geriatric dog, and go cuddle Cujo. You are welcome to do that KMF76.

  17. Carrie February 3, 2015 at 4:02 pm #

    Great list! I don’t do any of these things– and what kind of idiot thinks letting their pet pester potentially sick or injured animals in the waiting room is a good idea? But I sometimes worry that I’m driving them nuts by being one of THOSE super-doting-super-anxious doggy parents when my little furbaby is sick. 😦 The vets I’ve had were all wonderful, with the exception of a veterinary ophthalmologist who made me cry and feel like an irresponsible owner for not scheduling my dog for cataract surgery the instant it was diagnosed, instead asking about the possible complications of surgery, after-care, probability of successful treatment, and potential ill-effects of waiting to watch how it developed (and if the other eye developed a cataract). I just wanted all the information to make an informed decision, and he acted like I was a monster!

    • pommom101690 February 3, 2015 at 8:59 pm #

      I would have walked right out. Cataracts aren’t life threatening. It’s not like you watched a tumor grow from the size of an acorn to a watermelon. Seriously, I would have told him to F off. Like, I am paying you, douchebag!

    • wodentoad February 9, 2015 at 8:43 pm #

      We have super gentle dogs but more importantly a lovely vet. When our old golden was diagnosed with cataracts, he said “It may get worse in a month, it may never get worse. Probably best not to make any major changes to the layout of his environment.

      With our next dog, we were sent for some advanced tests and diagnosis to the teaching hospital. They sent his labs back to our vet expecting us to go in for brain surgery and chemo and everything else, throwing the experimental book at him, but our lovely vet let us know the sad reality and considered his quality of life.

      If (more likely *when*) we get another dog, this will be our vet, no question at all. I can’t say enough good about our vet, and we abide by all of these. (Also, I want to strangle flexi-lead owners with their lead. Every. Dang. One. Especially ones that bring those hideous things to the vet’s office.

  18. Janet Ledford February 3, 2015 at 4:53 pm #

    This was GREAT!!!! I have a problem not killing other clients at my vet’s…

  19. caninestein February 3, 2015 at 7:02 pm #

    I’d add to the list not to piss and moan about the cost of veterinary medicine and then leave horrible reviews on Yelp doing the same thing. Yes, veterinary medicine IS expensive. Vets have wicked high overhead and they can’t bill the crap out of insurance companies like human medical offices do.

    I hate having to cough it up for a spend-y vet bill, too, but generally speaking, veterinary medicine as an industry really IS about helping animals and NOT about milking clients.

    If you have an animal, you should have some idea of how you’ll pay for routine and unexpected medical expenses — be it Care Credit, an animal-specific savings account you put $20/mo into, or a rich uncle you can hit up for funds. It’s part of responsible pet ownership.

    • pommom101690 February 3, 2015 at 9:00 pm #

      Exactly! My vet’s office manager had to sit him down and explain that he was charging to little. There was no way he could pay his bills with the prices he was charging. His cat neuter was cheaper than the spay neuter clinic!

  20. Nancy and Charlie February 3, 2015 at 9:11 pm #

    I have known my vet for more years than I care to count (we actually used to volunteer together at a wildlife rescue when he was still a vet student), and I couldn’t ask for better care for my animals. We also like most of his techs and other vets at the clinic. One thing we do is bring coffee and/or cookies (usually from McDonalds, lol) whenever we have to come in–as my mother’s dog is diabetic we are there quite frequently for testing or to pick up supplies. Like it was stated in the article, they are only human, but they are trying their best!

  21. Steve Litt February 4, 2015 at 12:16 am #

    I want to endorse the Vets who do visits at home. This was wonderful for our aging 75 pound mutt. Our vet charged the same to come to the house as other vets did to come to the office.
    Bluey lived to 17 and for the last 5 years of her life our wonderful vet did house calls only. The dog couldn’t stand to be lifted or get into the car, so she did exams on the grass or carpet depending on the weather.
    Our vet preceded every exam with a shot of Cheese Wiz. Every time she came the Blue was crazy happy to see her. On her last day the old girl died wagging her tail with a mouthful of Cheese Wiz and the vet and I hugging and crying.
    Best vet in the world.

  22. Certified Vet Tech February 4, 2015 at 7:34 am #

    You forgot to mention a few things:

    PLEASE COME IN ON TIME! In fact come in 15 minutes early at the earliest but not 2 hours early either and demand to be seen sooner. You will be seen when your appointment is set for. Do not come 15 minutes or an hour or three hours late without a call ahead so we can make ROOM for your tardiness or if need be reschedule for a better time. Unless your pet is dying/seriously injured do not expect us to tiptoe around your schedule when we’ve already set our appointments.

    Also unless it’s an emergency do not come in without an appointment. Even if it is an emergency we still would like a call ahead of time (this includes ER facilities) to be prepared for what your pet has going on. Our staff needs to be prepared for what is going to walk through those doors.

    Lets all be honest and admit that not all owners listen to after surgery protocols. However, when we say wear an E-collar after a surgery that the staff has asked to put on Fluffy because we are REALLY sure Fluffy will chew/bite/scratch/paw at the incision. PLEASE KEEP IT ON! We do not want to see you the next day (or find out you went to an ER) because you realized Fluffy has a gaping hole where he had surgery the day before. We want what is best for the two of you. If you really cannot do an E-collar ask us for other ideas (we can give you a few) but the E-Collar is the FOR SURE way it will not happen.

  23. Leaena February 4, 2015 at 9:24 am #

    I hate when people lets their dogs run up to other dogs at the vets. Earlier this year my two goldens were at the vets to make sure they hadn’t picked up MRSA from a man we visit at a nursing home so we were doing the responsible thing and keeping our dogs away from everyone else. Our vet is an emergency clinic so always have random events happening and on this day 3 dogs with possible snake bites (we are in Australia so snake bites are rushed to the vets) turned up while we were waiting thus the waiting room started to fill up and all the exam rooms were being used. We had at least 5 seperate dogs come right up to us, I found telling the owners “WATCHOUT MY DOG MIGHT BE HARBOURING ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANT BACTERIA” an effective way to get their dogs away. Also my vets are awesome that visit wasn’t billed because the dogs were exposed to the MRSA while working as therapy dogs. The testing still cost money but the dogs both came back negative for the MRSA which is all that mattered to me.

  24. dw February 4, 2015 at 6:02 pm #

    People who expect the receptionist to be able to be able to give them a complex medical advice or hand out drugs no questions asked, and then get irate when it doesn’t happen drove me nuts when I worked in a clinic.

    Also, people who call at 2 pm on a Friday saying “oh, precious has had an ear infection for two weeks and I’m going out of town tomorrow!” And expect that they’ll get an appointment that afternoon.

    And finally, the people who speak yo onr staff member, don’t get what they want, then call back and try to run game on another staff member, talking about how ‘rude’ and ‘inconsiderate’ the last person they spoke to was. It’s like they don’t realize that (especially in a small practice) staff talk to each other, and know exactly what this person is trying to pull.

  25. Maru February 4, 2015 at 11:35 pm #

    I can second a lot of the points above:

    – Please be punctual, call if you cannot make it and don’t expect to be seen earlier just because you came early. We might have other patients before you or, you know, have our much needed break…

    – Don’t come in with things that have been going on for days or weeks and expect to be seen immediately, ideally 5 minutes before closing time or on a weekend.

    – Don’t come in with your 4 cats and two dogs 5 minutes before closing time to have all of them examined with a few extra questions regardig each of them and taking blood samples for this or that.
    If you KNOW that you want extensive examinations or procedures done or have to come in with several animals who all need something done, please don’t come to the open admission hours but make an appointment.

    – If you have and appointment to take a blood sample from Fido to re-evaluate his kidney parameters, please don’t bring in Bella and Fluffy and Fly and Rusty for having their vaccinations done, their anal glands expressed, for checking out that lump that grows on their rump or whatever – we planned for x minutes for a simple procedure, not for an extended examination each and procedures for five animals.

    – If you have a small dog, for the love of god please put him on the table. Don’t hide him in your ample bosom, don’t let him crawl up between your neck and shoulder or hide behind your hair. I don’t want to become acquanitanced with you decoltee while trying to examine your dog and also it is a dog and has four paws to stand on, not a baby monkey or baby sloth that needs to hang off his momma.

    – If you have a cat, please put it in a sturdy carrier that can easily be opened from the front as well as from the top.
    Don’t put it in one of the cute little wicker baskets with the small round hole in the front, it’s insanely difficult to get a cat out of there if it doesn’t want to.
    Don’t take it to the vet on a leash or (worse!) with nothing to secure it at all. It might panic and if it runs away in the strange surroundings it will at best be stuck under a shelv at the vets office and at worst you will lose it forever because it escapes to the outsides and doesn’t know its way around.

    – Please shut up while the vet auscultates your pet, (s)he cannot hear anything when you a babbleing while s(he) tries to concentrate on your pets heart.

    Re: Agressive dogs and being honest about that:
    I once had people come in whose dog looked “weird”. You know the look, the look they give you where you think: “Oh, careful, this one might bite.”
    I asked them if the dog was ok and the answered “Yes, fine” with a small pause that gave ME pause.
    I asked again and all of a sudden the owner said: “Well, maaaaaybe not” and produced the muzzel they had brought in their handbag.
    Wow… if I hadn’t asked two times, they would have let me run into the open knife/the open maw of their dog, who, as it turned out, was not a happy camper at all.

  26. Ms. Fuentes February 5, 2015 at 5:36 am #

    I love my vet clinic. I don’t have one regular vet (maybe two that we see regularly), as there are quite a few on staff and seem to rotate shifts, but we’ve been taking our dog there for about a year and a half and each vet has been really great about following up on notes left by the previous vet visit. Our dog has a recurring eye infection issue, so we’ve been there a few times per year for just that. Haven’t figured out if it’s allergies or what yet.

    Our dog needed a lot of “start up” health rehabilitation (emaciated, infections, lame hind leg, etc) when we first got him from the animal shelter. I love that our vets have been there for us with advice and encouragement. I have undoubtedly been that annoying first-time owner with the really banged up dog asking and asking, “Am I doing it right? Am I doing it right?”

    The only thing that is a problem is that the vet techs/staff at the front are very often super excited and baby-talk our dog when he comes in. They are SO SWEET and I love that they love him, but now he has the bad habit of rearing up to the counter to get a treat or affection. One time there were three of them behind the counter and they all made excited noises and my dog got so happy about it he leaped over the counter to get to them. They were not expecting that! But at least no one got knocked over. I feel guilty even saying that is a problem because I know it comes from a place of really being so fond of him. But I want him to have good manners, especially now that he’s a 90 lb boy. I feel heartless telling them not to get him excited and reward him for getting on the counter, so I just try to keep him away and put in him in a down/stay while my husband checks in, or vice versa.

    But seriously, that is the only thing and I still totally and unreservedly love this clinic.

    Re: Muzzles. I have a friendly, outgoing GSD who loves going to the vet (even after getting his oil checked, he doesn’t get upset). Our clinic vets never ask us to muzzle him. Took him to a different vet when I was out of town and that vet took one look at him and demanded that we muzzle him. Of course he hated it and was scared because he was not used to it.

    Are muzzling requests the norm for certain breeds, even if your GSD (or other breed) is friendly? The most one of our regular vets has done is comment that our dog is “a real sweetie, and [she] hasn’t seen a lot of German Shepherds like that.”

    Probably would be a good idea to get my dog used to wearing one just in case.

    • Another Tech February 9, 2015 at 11:27 pm #

      As a tech, I generally go off of what look the dog is giving me. If the dog runs over to me and rolls on it’s belly demanding scritches, no problem. The dog giving you the crazy eyes and hiding under mom’s chair… Wellll… I do tend to watch “certain breeds” a little more critically. But auto-muzzle? No way!!

  27. Michelle February 5, 2015 at 2:36 pm #

    I understand the site but the cursing could be curbed to get the point across. Etiquette is etiquette. You are how you are raised whether it be your children or pets.
    Respect is respect.

  28. Messy Girl February 5, 2015 at 3:13 pm #

    -Don’t write a bad review because you were made an informed consumer. Can’t tell you how many people write about vets just wanting money or shoving unnecessary treatments down their throats. The reality is we let you know that routine lab work is very beneficial in catching certain illnesses early. I.e. you won’t see signs of kidney disease until they are 75% gone.

    -Don’t write a bad review because you agreed to those treatments.

    -Don’t try to restrain your own pet. And ESPECIALLY don’t try to do it while I’m already holding them and end up awkwardly trying to avoid (yet being unsuccessful) rubbing all over my boobs.

    -Don’t let your kids run amuck, go through our drawers, climb in the macaw cage out front, turn the lights off and on, etc. Etc.

    -Don’t steal from the exam rooms. I know 1 tooth from the dog mouth model is especially interesting but that stuff is pricey!

    -Don’t complain about the price. We don’t care that it costs less to go to your doctor. Guess what?? You have insurance. Guess what else? We use a lot of the same equipment, drugs, & supplies as human doctors so if anything we should be Pisces with the human fields over THEIR cost.

    *off soap box*

    • Liz W February 10, 2015 at 7:16 pm #

      It costs us a couple grand every week to order the slides for every Internal Organ Function screen that we do for a pet’s bloodwork. Which is standard for every surgery and dental cleaning. These are tiny little slides, twelve in all for each screening. We go through 8-20 screens a day. They’re several hundred dollars each. And then we get yelled at by clients about price. I just wish I could make them see…

  29. Kct February 5, 2015 at 10:33 pm #

    oh, there’s a lot I can say about a lot of what’s been said here…so I’ll keep it to a minimum! Great post; I wish we could post it in our waiting room! Lol. A few points…
    – great sentiment in most of the responses to the home euth dilemma. I do them for great clients that I know well…and it is TOUGH. Someone had a great suggestion in there somewhere – if this is something that’s particularly important to you (everyone’s different…some people would rather not have the memory at home, etc), plan ahead! If you have senior pets, Talk to your vet about whether or not home euths are something they’d do or not. If the answer is absolutely not -hopefully that gives you some opportunity to make alternative arrangements.
    – another thing to add to the list: minimize the ‘by the way, doc’ and, ‘while I’m here, can you also deal with x, y and z problems in just as much detail? We schedule appointments according to what you tell us on the phone – if you’re calling for an appointment, tell us everything you want looked at! And we can schedule enough time, or break up into more than one visit if necessary. 20 mins is not enough time to talk about your dog’s behaviour, and his arthritis, and his allergies…
    – someone above admitted they ARE the type to tell the vet what to do: admitting your problem is the first step! The phrase that stuck out to me is ‘I’m right 99% of the time’ – I can assure you, unless you are a DVM, that is not true. You may think it is, but you often have no idea of the details and the nuances and drug interactions and co-morbidities and…when you feel the urge to tell the vet what to do, consider instead asking them about what you are thinking. Then they can help you understand why you are, or are not, on the right track. There’s nothing more off putting than know it all clients. You trivialize what we’ve spent our entire lives dedicated to. Respect that. Because if it was so easy, you wouldn’t need us. And if you behave like that, you won’t end up being one of the clients that your vet is happy to do a home euth for!

  30. Emily February 6, 2015 at 2:33 am #

    As a pet owner, try to remember these are animals. Treat them as such. The can’t talk to you and say they’re in pain or they’re full. Pets rely on their humans to take care of them and you know when your pet is just not acting normal. But don’t be that over bearing pet owner that yells at an employee for taking a temperature reading. Guess what, needles, blades, heck even nail trims can hurt. But the health of your pet is far more important than one moment of pain/discomfort. Be a responsible pet owner.
    Veterinary staff need to remember that not all humans know the basics of how to treat and handle a pet especially if they didn’t grow up with animals. Trying to make a pet owner understand the problems your pet is having is what needs to be done.
    If you simply don’t care enough about your pets health and well being, then maybe you shouldn’t have a pet at all.

  31. Titus February 6, 2015 at 4:47 am #

    I LOVE my vet – been with her practice since 1990 – but some of the the clients… Flexi’s are bad in a small waiting room, but unruly children… Just kill me.
    I just recently experienced a 4-ish year old who was entertaining himself by trotting around the room tapping each dog on the head (and all the crates he could reach), playing Duck Duck Goose. I have a snarky dog who is particularly a bastard about children, and had to physically intercede and block little precious with a loud, “STOP.” My dog was wearing a muzzle, but he still would have lunged and growled, and I’ve spent a long time teaching him to sit quietly and not growl at everyone who walks by, I didn’t need little Lord Snotwaffle undoing our hard work.
    Lol, then I get the passive-aggressive trash talking (to the child of course, not to me), “I don’t know, honey, I don’t even know why people have dogs like that!”, etc.

    • Liz W February 10, 2015 at 7:13 pm #

      Shoulda followed it up with, “I don’t know, Poochi, I don’t understand why people have children or attitudes like that!” 😉

    • Vet Receptionist February 10, 2015 at 10:51 pm #

      Yeah, that was a fail on both the parent’s & the front desk staff’s parts. My lobby, my rules. I do not allow unsupervised children to muck about in my lobby. I’ve told many an otherwise-occupied parent that they needed to watch little Suzie or Johnny to keep them out of harm’s way. Ultimately, we’re trained to handle your pet, nor your spawn. If you must choose one(isn’t multitasking a parental prerequisite?!), let us handle Fido while you handle your little bundle of joy. Usually, I make a half-joking comment of “Unless that one has all the required vaccinations for boarding, you’ll need to keep them with you” or “I’m sorry. We only offer doggy daycare. But we do have crayons & coloring books”. If that doesn’t get my point across, I herd the heathens into an exam room. I’ve only had one instance where that didn’t work, and the parent was being a total dick. He quite quickly wore out his welcome & all of the staff’s nerves! After returning his toddler to the exam the 4th time, I gave him 3 options for the child: slip lead, kennel, or rescheduling when he could get a babysitter. Did I mention I had to pry syringes (with needles attached) from the little monster’s hands?!

  32. Sophie February 6, 2015 at 11:03 pm #

    Terrific post. I love these “don’t do this” suggestions from people in the know. It helps me be a better dog owner. Your point about repeating your pets behavior problem/quirk to everyone in the clinic is so important. I had a whippet who was the biggest drama queen on the planet. She would scream like a toe was being ripped off if someone even looked like they were coming near her with a pair of toenail clippers/needle/other medical implement. Luckily, she wasn’t a biter or a fighter, just a screamer. She learned if she yelled, the poor person at the other end of the implement would stop doing whatever they had been doing to make sure they weren’t hurting her. There’s nothing like sitting in the waiting room while the vet tech is working with your dog (potentially just trimming toenails) and trying to pretend the howling, screaming banshee in the other room that is upsetting everyone in the area with her vocalizations isn’t your dog. I can’t tell you the number of new vets and vet techs that didn’t believe me when I’d tell them she’d make a lot of noise when they worked with her. They were always believers when they brought her back to me. It didn’t take long for her to be famous at the vet. I’m hoping her fame was more in a “ha ha, that’s really annoying but vaguely funny” way and not the “Oh my God, it’s THAT dog again” way.

    • Liz W February 10, 2015 at 7:12 pm #

      Whenever we encounter that kind of dog at my clinic, we’re just grateful she doesn’t try to take it out on our flesh. We’d much rather have a drama queen than a fighter, trust me.

  33. KayDee Dye February 7, 2015 at 6:35 am #

    Awesome article!!

    Pommom? Super glad you’re not one of our client.

    • Vet Receptionist February 10, 2015 at 11:23 pm #

      ^Yes! Thank you, KayDee Dye, for saying what we’re all thinking! I really can’t stand special snowflakes that know they’re being assholes & are completely unrepentant! I know you think you’re God’s gift to your vet’s practice, but, no.

  34. Babbi Dilbeck, DVM February 8, 2015 at 5:02 pm #

    A couple of things:

    1) if you have an unruly child, leave it at home or in the car with a supervisory adult. It’s not my job to pull your kid’s hand out of a sharps box that is securely inside of a cabinet just because you can’t be bothered to parent.

    2) if you’re bringing your pet in for urinary problems, please don’t allow it to void its bladder right before you walk into the building…

  35. Jan February 8, 2015 at 6:50 pm #

    I have wonderful vets. A few years ago I had a senior collie. It was feeding time. He started screaming from pain and couldn’t get up. I called my vet at home at 8:00PM and told him it was time

    • Jan February 8, 2015 at 6:56 pm #

      Don’t know what happened but I’ll continue. I called my vet at home at 8:00PM. He said it was his son’s birthday and they were just getting ready to open presents. Could I meet him in an hour? How many vets do that? And I was never charged a penny for that or the cremation.

  36. Jan February 8, 2015 at 7:06 pm #

    Eight years ago, we got some bad hay. All of our horses coliced. The grown horses survived because our vets came here twice a day. That was 2 hours of driving. We had a 9 month old filly who wasn’t so lucky. Our vet was here 3 or 4 times a day. I know this has nothing to do with dogs but everything to do with the dedicated vets we have.

  37. Dog guy February 8, 2015 at 10:00 pm #

    I hear the stories from the techs on here and hear what many are saying – I also see a lot of animosity towards people who are “layman” who actually might have a heck of a lot of real life experience themselves. For example, we have bred, raised, professionally trained, boarded, rescued and nursed dogs for over 35 years. Believe it or not, we’ve learned a few things along the way – and been at it for longer than most of you have been alive, let alone the two years you’ve been a tech. LISTEN to us when we tell you something about the dogs behavior, condition or symptom. We have handled tens of thousands of dogs in our careers, literally.
    Also, remember who it is PAYING THE BILL. WE are the customer and YOU, Vet and tech, don’t make a living without us. Don’t get the illusion that we can’t find another Vet and take our business elsewhere, because whereas in the old days there might be one or two Veterinarians in a County, In this town now there are nearly as many Vets as fast food restaurants. So maybe, just maybe instead of the “go to” response being “we can’t do that”, start thinking customer service and instead say, “How can we do that”.
    I left a vet that I’d gone to for over a decade because of this very attitude, and they lost a client that had paid them well into the six figure range over that time frame. Maybe to the young staff we became the “oh it’s THAT guy again” that resulted in holier than thou attitude by staff – who knows, all I know is the new Vet is very happy to hear our call for assistance. Those calls are very, very frequent and their client list grows monthly with referrals from our businesses.

  38. JoE February 9, 2015 at 11:40 am #

    What a great post!

    I really wish all vets would post such a sign in their waiting rooms. I have a wonderful vet practice who are not at all pissy about taking their time with my nervous dog, even to doing exams and injections on the floor (and he’s a Miniature Poodle, so it’s a pain to work on him on the floor). But other patients? Jeez louise. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve had to dance around like a fool body-blocking some grinning idiot’s dog who is trying to ‘say hi’ to my already-nervous-and-not-that-tolerant dog while waiting to see the vet. What IS it with some people?

  39. Liz W February 10, 2015 at 7:10 pm #

    As a tech, I love this. I love all of it. I heart. So much.

  40. Kathy February 18, 2015 at 5:08 pm #

    Great article and exactly the reasons why my dogs remain in my van until it’s time for them to head to the exam room. We come straight in the door, through the waiting room, into the exam room. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. I don’t need/want potentially sick dogs in my dogs’ face, nor do I want to potentially infect others dogs if mine is ill.

  41. Jacqueline Burns May 19, 2015 at 2:54 pm #

    I have a service dog that is absolutely fearless, except of the vet. She had let people know that if they attempt to attack me (yes, that did happen once), she will take them apart. Again, terrified of the vet. If I am attacked by a vet, the best she will do is drag me away behind her. Once she gets into the exam room, she retreats to her ‘happy place’, and is probably the easiest patient they ever see.

    In the waiting room, I find a spot where she can crawl up into my lap and have her little nervous breakdown, and I appreciate people leaving us alone. But she also happens to be an absolutely gorgeous piebald Dachshund, and they think they should be able to come over and talk to her. The front office staff knows how she is, and has even asked people to not bother us, but they don’t seem to get it. I often have to sit on the bench outside, and have them come get us, just to get thru the visit. Why do people do that?

  42. limedestruction May 19, 2015 at 9:20 pm #

    This could alternately be titled, “How to Avoid Being an Asshole at the Animal Shelter’s Intake Department”. People do all these things and more, on top of already potentially being assholes for dumping their pets for some stupid reason (not all of them…but those are the minority…)

  43. jay53 May 20, 2015 at 4:41 pm #

    Great article! I especially agree with not letting your animal harrass anyone else or anyone else’s animal.

    So how about going for a referral at a veterinary eye clinic with a very nervous greyhound, taken on a few months earlier at the age of ten and finding that the vet – the VET – allows their damned cat free roam around the waiting room? The cat (as cats do) loved teasing the waiting dogs, and my poor Jack nearly turned himself inside out not knowing what to do with himself. He was already stressed about being there, and now he had to deal with a loose cat winding him up.

    The staff didn’t see the problem. The woman I spoke to said ‘Well, he lives here!’ and refused to shut him out of the waiting room. I did not go back.

  44. Lowryder's Animal Tails May 22, 2015 at 2:47 am #

    This is awesome. I think I’m an angel dog. My humans don’t agree. I freak out at the vet. I will bite people.

  45. Oskar & Liesel May 22, 2015 at 2:53 pm #

    I think you are my new best friend! Couldn’t agree more!!

  46. Tails Around the Ranch May 26, 2015 at 3:53 pm #

    This is beyond pawsome! I recently wrote a post on my own thoughts on those stupid retractable leashes; your description is infinitely better than mine–tripwire of doom–can I use that in the future on DADOs (dumb ass dog owners)? Oops, was that my out loud voice again? 🙂

  47. Get your kids to stand up! June 3, 2015 at 8:07 pm #

    And let’s not forget the seating etiquette: if you insist on bringing your 3 kids plus the 2 visiting kids, and there are 10 seats in the waiting room, and each of you and the kids all take a seat plus you put your dog on one, expect everyone else to immediately hate you.

  48. Connie Dabel July 17, 2015 at 9:26 pm #

    All of these posts make a lot of sense. It really opened my eyes to the different things that the vets do. I have an absolutely wonderful vet and am glad I found him.
    I use a flex leash, but I know how to lock it and how short to keep it. I live in Florida and will not leave my dog in the car until they call us.
    I’m sorry that a lot of people seem to think they are right. No one is 99% right as we are all human and we all make mistakes. The key here is to learn from them.

  49. Jeanne February 5, 2017 at 4:02 am #

    My trusted vet of several years handed me off to a newly minted graduate, no doubt thinking I’d be an easy client he could dampen his feet with. This moron bungled a dental procedure which lead to life-threatening issues which they lied about which lead to the death of my poor dog. After leaving that vet, bringing charges against the moron( my trusted vet stood by him), the moron left the state and now practices in another state. I also sent my charging complaint to that state. I trusted them. I still hyperventilate when I see my old vet in the grocery store. I told anyone who would listen what happened…people in the cat food aisle, people walking their dogs, people I’d see in Walmart who mentioned they had pets…this is a small town, it got around. They’re DAMNED lucky I didn’t burn that clinic to the ground. I still consider it an option in my heart-it’s the only way I can live with the guilt of having handed my boy over to them in the first place.


  1. How Not to Be an A-hole at the Vet, According to The Dog Snobs - May 18, 2015

    […] you like where this is going, you can read the rest of the post here. If you are the easily offended type, I suggest you don’t…because it […]

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