When you’re around veterinary professional friends, I’m sure the topic of work comes up.
My best friend works in a general/first opinion vet clinic, and when something out of the ordinary comes in she texts me about it as soon as possible. Vice versa when I pick up a shift here or there at my emergency clinic. ‘Woah, we just had the coolest abscess come in!’ or ‘We sucked 110 mls of fluid out of a 7kg dog’s chest today!’. It’s super fun to be able to talk to a friend who understands veterinary medicine and who truly gets what you do every day, because let’s be real there aren’t a ton of people who do.
Vet techs and vet assistants out there - you all have non veterinary professional friends, right? Family members, friends from high school, friends from hobbies you may have in your abundant free time.. But you know the ones - friends with animals that they love dearly, but when it comes to questions about their babies - they ask you first rather than going to their regular veterinarian.
And in some cases that’s okay, but what happens when it’s something serious? Or what happens when they rely on solely on your advice and never go to the vet?
Here are the 5 things I wish I could tell them:
We can’t get you medication
Dear friends that say ‘I know exactly what my dog needs, just that diarrhea stuff from last time. Can’t you pick up a couple of tablets for me?’. No, I cannot just ‘pick you up some drugs from my clinic! You need to a see a veterinarian to get a prescription for your dog’s diarrhea. And you absolutely need to see your vet if your animal is in pain, I can’t just pick you up some pain killers! People seem to think that vet clinics are like human clinics, that sometimes have samplers of medication on hand. Even if we did - we’re not going to give you something without a vet having examined your animal!
We can’t help (well) over the phone
Sure, absolutely call us to get our opinion on the small things. Like what kind of food is good or what to do if your dog just started having diarrhea (not 6 days later!). But please know that we can’t help you over the phone very well if your animal is having a serious problem. We’re not there to see your animals, we can’t look at the wound ourselves, or see their reactions to certain stimuli. We don’t have their history like their veterinarian would. You could also be misinterpreting what your animal is doing, and therefore giving us wrong information that could lead to a false assumption that your animal is fine. So please, if you think your animal needs help, chances are it does, so please find a veterinarian near you.
If we say go to the vet, go to the vet!
If you do call us, and we do think that your animal needs to be seen by a veterinarian, either ASAP or in the morning- please take our advice! We don’t just say this stuff for fun, and we don’t love to see you spend your money for nothing, we actually mean it! There have been a few times when I’ve gotten messages from friends wanting to know if their animal needs to be seen, and there has been once or twice when I highly recommended it. And the most frustrating thing is when the owners don’t listen, not only because my opinion as a veterinary professional is rejected, but because I genuinely worry about the health of their pets! Plus, what happens if we say everything is okay and then needed treatment is delayed?
DO NOT try to do the vets job at home!
Having worked at an emergency hospital, I’ve seen my fair share of people come in with their animals that they first tried to fix up at home. The attempted removal of porcupine quills that resulted in all the quills breaking. The blood feathers that get clipped during at home wing clippings. The glued wounds. You know what I mean. Please, please, please, come into the vet clinic before you attempt to fix the issue at home. The extra money you 'save'is not worth it if your animal dies or needs even more veterinary intervention as a result of your ‘quick fix’!
Don’t listen to the internet
Unless it’s a veterinary clinic/hospital, or a true veterinary group! But there’s a lot of really terrible advice out there, like giving your dog over the counter medication or what is or isn’t toxic. Just google ‘my dog is vomiting’ and you’ll see dozens of different ways to treat it yourself at home, ‘saving’ you a trip to the vet. It’s not always awful advice, but it certainly isn’t great. Some is just down right awful. If you have questions about your animal, be sure to only use websites that are approved by your vet. Or instead of making a Facebook status, just make an appointment with your vet!
If you have things you wish your non veterinary professional friends knew, let us know! Either by commenting below or sending me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org