Veterinarian with client and pet.

Your pet’s care is a team effort, and a good relationship with your veterinarians at Arlington Animal Hospital is paramount to providing the best possible for your furry family. It is important to remember that this relationship isn’t one sided, and that cat and dog owner responsibilities play into how much you get out of your veterinary experience. From common mistakes that pet owners make to things that aren’t common knowledge, here are the top five things veterinarians wish pet owners knew:

All Species Are Not the Same

While dogs, cats, and humans do have a lot in common as mammals, there are some pretty dramatic differences between species. Part of what we learn in our veterinary education is what these variations are and how to work around them.

Some medications that you take may be safe for your pet, but the dose may not be the same. Other medications that you take may be toxic to your pet. In fact, some medications that your dog takes might be toxic to your cat. Never give medications without veterinary supervision, as one size does not fit all when it comes to drug metabolism.

Likewise, there are important anatomical and physiological differences between the species. Disease processes like diabetes and seasonal allergies may be shared between species, but there are significant variations. Best to put on your listening ears when it comes to learning about a diagnosis in your pet, even if you think that you know all about it. 

Vet Med is a Labor of Love

People who are in veterinary medicine are generally not in it for the money. Did you know that the average student debt for a degree in veterinary medicine is growing at 4.5 times the rate that the average salary is growing? The salary-to-debt ratio was already disproportional, and that problem is just worsening. The same thing is happening for support staff as well. 

In addition, the veterinary industry is known for long hours and few breaks. It can be a very physically and emotionally demanding job as we bounce from helping someone say goodbye to a sick family member to welcoming a bouncy new puppy into a home. 

In addition, people are often very emotional about the their animals, and when things don’t go their way, they can become very irrational, and even abusive. Dealing with verbal assault and online harassment is not unusual in the industry.

There are a lot of reasons not to choose veterinary medicine as a career, but many of us stay for one reason: we really love your pets. Please remember this.  

We Aren’t Psychic

While we are darn good at our jobs, we need your help to treat your pet. Paying attention to your pet’s daily habits so that you can answer questions about things like eating, drinking, going to the bathroom, and activity levels is important. 

Likewise, it is beneficial to send someone to your pet’s appointment that is able to answer questions and make medical decisions for your pet. If you aren’t present, it greatly impacts our ability to deliver quality care. 

In addition, many problems and diseases can have similar symptoms or presentations. Diagnostic testing is often needed in order to determine what is going on with your pet. Allowing us to perform recommended tests is essential in helping us to treat and prognosticate for your little patient. 

Mental Health is a Real Struggle

Mental health is an important aspect of all of our lives, and it is an aspect that many in the veterinary industry struggle with more than most. Burnout in the veterinary world has been, and continues to be, a real thing. 

More and more light continues to be shed on the fact that veterinary personnel are at a higher risk than the general public for committing suicide as well. 

While we don’t expect you to fix this problem for our profession, please remember that your words and actions matter. A kind comment or gesture can go a long way.

Pet Insurance is a Thing!

Year after year, the cost of everything continues to rise. This trend will likely never end.

The cost of skilled and competent labor is a large part of the costs of running a veterinary hospital. Likewise, modern equipment to treat and care for your pet is not free. The best and most effective medications and supplies can be expensive, and last we checked, the utilities companies aren’t giving veterinary hospitals a free pass on paying the electric bill.

Quality pet care is not inexpensive, and it falls on the list of cat and dog owner responsibilities to plan to pay for your four-legged friend’s care. One way to cover the gap, especially when it comes to unexpected expenses, is to consider pet insurance. A variety of policies exist–choose one that meets your budget and covers what you think you might need it for. 

We hope that understanding a few of the things that we wish more pet owners knew about veterinary medicine will be helpful. We are always here as your partners in pet care. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns you might have about your best friend.