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 Vet Peeves

This article was written by DR. CINDY WOLFF and appeared in the Houston Chronicle on December 12, 1998.

Veterinarians always look so happy to see us and our pets. They sweet-talk to our animals and scratch their ears, which butters us up, so we assume everything is blissful in Veterinaryville.

But surely beneath that cheerful demeanor lurks a vexed vet. No one, not even someone who spends all day with animals, is that happy. So, what peeves our pets' doctors?

A quick survey of several vets finds that usually the pet isn't what nettles the vet; it's usually that creature on the other end of the leash, the pet owner.

Here are some of their responses:

Obesity. Veterinarians say it a million times and yet overindulgent pet owners allow their animals to eat until they flounder.

"The animal can't open the refrigerator door and feed itself," says Dr. Robert Stanley, a Memphis vet. "People tell me they can't stand it when the dog or cat begs, so they give in to that negative behavior. The animal gets to where it won't eat anything but the table scraps."

More pet peeves:

Dr. Al Harrist says he is irked when pet owners make a diagnosis themselves and attempt treatment at home, which often makes the problem worse. He polled the staff at his clinic and relays some of their peeves:

When people don't bring their pets back in for a follow-up check to see if a treatment is working or if a condition has improved. Most veterinarians don't charge for the follow-up visit, but some pet owners won't make the effort to come back.

Expecting a prescription medicine such as heartworm preventative or antibiotics without bringing your pet in for an office visit.

Veterinarians can't sell heartworm preventative without checking to see if your pet has heartworms. If your animal has heartworms, the medicine could cause your pet to go into shock.

Other pet peeves from the veterinarians :

When people bring their dogs into a veterinary clinic without a leash or their cats out of the carrier. A big no-no. It causes chaos and stresses out your pet and others.

When pet owners automatically assume that a flea on their pet came from the veterinarian's office.

"Fleas don't leave the warm host they are on to jump to another one," says Pearce, adding: "They aren't crouched on the cold, steel table waiting to pounce on your pet."

People who expect the veterinarian to diagnose a problem over the telephone. You may only see one symptom. There could be more.v People who let their pets urinate all over the floors at a clinic.

People who don't control their children at an animal clinic. Some children rush up to pet animals that are sick, frightened or may have a biting problem.

People who tell the veterinarian that they will kill themselves if their pet dies. Vets have enough pressure without having to worry about a human's mental soundness.

It's interesting how none of the veterinarians has a problem with animals. Not one mentioned a bad behavior. Maybe there aren't any bad pets, just bad pet owners.

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