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The Top 7 Things Veterinary Professionals Wish Clients Knew About 'The Back'

Kat Milcke, RVT Oct 14, 2016 4:12:17 PM Insider, Veterinary, Vet Tech

"What's 'the back' and why are you taking my baby back there?"

I don’t know about you and your clinic, but in my clinic, we have exam rooms ‘in the front’ of the hospital, and then a treatment area ‘in the back’. The back is ‘off limits’ to clients and the door to the place where the magic happens, so to speak, is clearly marked with ‘Employees Only’. Does that always keep the clients out? No, but it does deter most.

At the beginning of my career as a tech, a client asked me, ‘What is the back, and why are you taking my baby there?’. I was going to laugh, until I realized that it must sound really scary to a client with a new pet who doesn’t understand how a clinic works. To ease some minds, here are the top 7 things I wish we could tell our clients about ‘The Back’ and why we’re taking their animals there:

1.We need to perform treatments on them

The number 1 reason why we take an animal back with us into the treatment room, is that we need to actually do treatments on them. We need to take blood, or give them subcutaneous fluids, or give them medications (either orally or injectable), take x-rays or suture a wound. Most of the time the animal is more relaxed if ‘mom or dad’ isn’t around, or we’d like to shield you from having you see us poke a needle in your pets neck to get blood. Do trust us, we know where we’re poking, but it’s still not something every pet owner wants to see.

2. WE want to show off your animalIMG_20160620_000802.jpg

In clinics, and especially emergency clinics, we don't often see puppies and kittens. So if you have an adorable, little tiny snuggly fluff ball, it's likely that we just want to put a smile on everyone's face and want to parade them around the clinic. More often than not, even if I'm having the worst day, if someone comes by and shows me a kitten stuffed into their scrub pocket, or allows me to pet a friendly new puppy, my day will automatically be made and I'll have a boost to get through the rest of the day. 


3. We need a better restrainer

Sometimes your animals are scared at the vet, and that’s perfectly alright. We don’t expect every pet to sit perfectly still while we take their (rectal!) temperature. We don’t take it personally and we know that your cat is the ‘most cuddly cat ever!’ at home, while they’re trying to rip us to shreds in clinic. Sometimes we just need a second experienced person to hold onto your animal while we look them over, be it a vet doing an exam or a technician triaging or performing treatments. Which brings me to...

4. Your animal is mean

Some animals are just mean; it’s just how things are. Your cat may be nice at home or your dog may be your toddler's best friend, but in a clinic, sometimes they are just plain vicious. I’ve seen my share of patents to know that I, personally, would rather take on a 100 lb angry Shepherd, than deal with a vicious fractious cat by myself. 

5. You make your animal Nervous!

Some clients hover. That’s just a fact. I would hover, too, if someone I didn’t know was examining my cat babies, especially if I thought they were hurt or sick. However, it doesn’t help us do our job in caring for your cat if you’re breathing down our neck, nor does it make your pet feel more at ease when they can sense that you’re freaking out. Your animals know you and they know when you’re scared and they can react accordingly, either tensing up or being aggressive. So, it’s possible that we will take your animal into the back to be in a more calm environment while we assess or treat them. Don’t be offended! We’re just trying to help everyone be more calm and avoid getting hurt.

6. You Make us nervous.

I’ll be blunt here, I’ve seen some clients that have been mean, loud and rude. It’s not the veterinary staff’s fault that your cat is sick, nor is it our fault that your bill might be high because your dog needs x-rays. I’ve had clients sign estimates in front of me swearing at me for the prices. If you scare me, and I have to give your pet an injection, I’m more likely to take your pet into the back treatment area so I can relax and do my job at maximum efficiency, rather than shake in my sneakers in the room with you.

And of course..

7. Your pet is critical!

Sometimes, especially in emergency hospitals, your animal is in critical condition and it needs our help NOW. It either needs oxygen, a vet assessment or a medication ASAP and it cannot wait in the room. In this case, it can be overwhelming to be brought in the back with your baby and see a team of staff members flying around your animal doing a bunch of things at once. One person may be putting a catheter in while another draws up meds and the third person puts an oxygen mask over your animal’s mouth while trying to keep them calm. It’s alright to worry and be scared, but if we bring your animal into the back right away, please know that we’re doing everything that we possibly can to try and save your baby and avoid any unnecessary pain.


The reality is that we need to be patient and try to put ourselves in the client's shoes and see things from their side. We really are taking their babies away into the Narnia that is the back, be it for the animals' sake or our own sanity's sake! 


Are there any other things you'd like to tell your clients about the back? Let us know in the comments below! 

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