In 2013, Consumer Reports magazine surveyed 1,000 people about their doctors. The intention was to identify and rate the most common client complaints. Having recently come across the article, I felt compelled to examine a few of these concerns from a veterinarian’s point of view. If you find yourself nodding in agreement with any of these statements when you visit the veterinarian, it’s important that you bring them up. Remember, a stronger bond with your pet’s doctor will probably mean a healthier pet. Click here for part one of the topic.
Side-effects are not fully explained
It’s important to keep in mind that if your veterinarian is prescribing a medication, it means that he believes the treatment provided is worth the possible, yet-rare, side-effects. Many veterinarians will be as descriptive as possible without scaring you away from medications that your pet desperately needs.
- What should you do? Do not believe everything you read on the Internet. However, do ask your veterinarian any questions you have, until you have a firm understanding of which side-effects might occur, what you should do about them and why your veterinarian believes you should still medicate. Just remember that fortunately, most side-effects are rare.
Long wait for doctor in exam or waiting room
Some veterinarians always strive to be on time, while others… struggle. Some are short and to the point, while others love to chat. To be fair, it is not always the Doctor’s choice. Sometimes, emergencies come up or previous clients have many questions which need to be answered and take up more time than initially allotted.
- What should you do? Three suggestions:
- If your veterinarian has a history of being late, call the clinic before your appointment to see if there is a delay.
- While you wait, make a list of questions to ask the doctor about your pet.
- Always bring something to do or to read while you wait.
It’s hard to reach the doctor by phone or email
Different doctors communicate with clients in different ways. Many Doctors will communicate with their clients by email, and others by phone. I would challenge you to find other healthcare professionals who are as generous with their time, especially after hours, as veterinarians are.
- What should you do? Simply ask if there is a way to reach the doctor after hours – while keeping in mind that your doctor deserves time off and privacy too.
My doctor is too quick to recommend tests
Most veterinarians are pretty good at recommending the correct tests for the correct condition. Some conditions have symptoms that are so vague, such as poor appetite or vomiting, that there could be 50 different causes. We need to run test to help us find answers. The most common tests after a thorough physical exam include blood work, X-rays and an ultrasound.
- What should you do? If your doctor recommends a test without explanation, gently ask why - until you understand the reasoning.
Office hours are inconvenient
Some veterinary clinics are open Monday through Friday (9 to 5) while others are open on Saturdays and even Sundays. Some open earlier, some later, and some are open 24/7. Clearly there’s a big difference with physicians – and a big benefit for you and your pet.
- What should you do? Choose a clinic that offers opening hours that match your lifestyle.
My doctor won’t renew a prescription without an office visit
Sometimes doctors won’t renew a prescription because of the pet’s specific condition: heart disease can get worse over time, for example. In some cases, it could be detrimental to a pet’s health to renew a prescription without blood work. For example, anti-inflammatory drugs and anti-seizure medications can cause liver problems, which need to be periodically monitored with blood work. Whatever the case, you can assume that there is a good reason the veterinarian wants to see your pet.
- What should you do? Please understand your veterinarian’s reasoning when they recommend a physical exam or blood work before refilling a prescription. Simply ask why the visit is necessary.
By asking questions, most issues you have with your veterinarian can be fully explained if not completely resolved. The resulting bond will be stronger for it.
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian -- they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.