Top Ten Reasons to Break Up With Your Vet

Patty Khuly, DVM
Updated: July 17, 2015
Published: September 08, 2008
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I get lots of mail on the subject of finding a new vet. Some pet owners have already decided that they need to switch to a different veterinary professional either because they’re moving out of town, require an in-city vet closer to them, or simply because they’re fed up with their last doc.

Ever since I started writing my Miami Herald column a year and a half ago this kind of mail began reaching me in a slow but steady trickle. New clients began making more appointments for “second opinions,” apparently assuming that someone who writes a column in the paper must be a great vet.

ometimes these correspondents are simply looking for someone to take care of their new puppy—or they’ve just recently moved to town and don’t have friends or family to provide a referral. But the majority is simply dissatisfied with their current veterinarian and hopes to make a permanent change.

Truth be told, I’m never too comfortable with this. I hate feeling that I might be responsible for “breaking up” a relationship, even if I’m just the innocent “other woman” who showed up well after the fall from grace. Yet somehow, it still always feels like the divorce is my fault.

That’s partly why I counsel these clients and correspondents to reconsider their decision to terminate the relationship—much more so if I know their previous veterinarian is a good one. Frequently, the problem is a simple series of miscommunications—and I’m often in a position to play arbiter better than most.

Nonetheless, sometimes it’s clear the relationship deserves to die. It’s these times I have no qualms when it comes to just keeping my mouth shut and accepting the newbie client into the fold. Here, I present you with their top ten reasons for killing the love for good:

  1. Lying

    Lying about your pet’s condition, adverse medical event, complication… it’s all grounds for divorce.

  1. Cheating

    Finding out-of-line charges on your bill? Catch wind of who really performed your pet’s surgery? Did you confront the powers-that-be and not get proper satisfaction? Be fair. Listen to their side. But if it’s a chronic problem you should probably call it quits.

  1. Talking out of school

    Disclosing your pet’s sensitive case to your friends and family without your permission can be devastating. I’m soooo careful about this one in my blogging (I change names, dates, breeds, gender…everything). But I do worry—and I have cause to. I’ve crossed the line before so I’m especially sensitive to this now. (Sometimes asking permission IS better than begging for forgiveness.)

  1. Too expensive

    We all know what we can afford and what we can’t. If you can’t handle the fancy practice prices there are ways to find more moderately-priced practices with philosophies that work with yours. It’s hard work and you may have to drive further but it can be done.

  1. Emotional distress

    Sometimes the pain of euthanasia and the grieving process means you just can’t go back—not for now, anyway. We get it. You’re hurting. It’s OK to switch vets even if it’s just for a little while.

  1. Feeling talked down to?

    Some docs just don’t get it. They treat you like a babe in the woods. I know this from my personal experience with human clinicians and I can’t abide it. Neither should you.

  1. It’s just not “clicking”

    Sometimes the mojo, the je ne sais quoi, just isn’t there.

  1. Explain, please…

    Vets who don’t elaborate or who speak exclusively in medicalese (when you don’t) must sometimes be prompted to explain themselves. Sometimes it’s OK (specialists tend to get more of a pass) but if it’s a chronic problem (in spite of your entreaties) and you’re the kind of person who needs to understand the case well, break it off before you get frustrated.

  1. Choices?

    You deserve to be offered a range of options for every condition (from specialist care to less expensive alternatives). If you don’t feel you’re getting the full range and that bothers you, you should squeak like a needy wheel. If the lack of alternatives persists, despite your insistence, you need another vet.

  1. It all comes down to trust

    And if it ain't there... ‘Nuff said.

Image: Ljiljana Jankovic / Shutterstock