Why You Shouldn't Worry When Your Vet Says, "I Don't Know"

Veterinarian Holding Files

What would you think about a veterinarian who took great care in examining your sick pet, evaluated all necessary diagnostics, and then looked at you thoughtfully across the exam-room table and said, “I don’t know”?

Would you be disappointed? You shouldn’t be, especially not if those words are followed by, “But I’m going to find out.” I’d rather have such a doctor for myself any day, and as a veterinarian, I am not, nor have I ever been, embarrassed or unwilling to seek out the wisdom of my colleagues. When you stop learning, you stop growing, and when you stop growing, you’re done.

A Thirst for More Knowledge

I never stop learning, and I love it. Last year when I was on book tour for Your Dog: The Owner’s Manual, my support team spent their days off on the road mostly resting, catching up on e-mail and doing laundry. Not me: In every city I found museums, galleries and more. I ran up the Rocky steps into the Philadelphia Museum of Art and later toured medical mysteries at the Mütter Museum. In Kansas City I beat feet to the National World War I Museum and … well, you get the point.

Is it any surprise that I can't stay away from veterinarian conferences, can’t pry my nose out of veterinary journals and can’t help but buttonhole top veterinary specialists after their presentations? When I say, “I don’t know … but I’m going to find out,” the person I’m talking to knows I’ll be tapping into a world-class, worldwide collection of veterinary expertise.

Your own veterinarian likely is too. “I don’t know” is nothing less than the beginning of better health for your dog or cat.

A Team Approach to Care

When I’m not speaking or making media appearances, I make time to practice as a veterinarian — I never want to be someone who just plays a vet on TV. I work at the North Idaho and Lakewood animal hospitals, and, in both of them, I make sure every pet I see gets the benefit of all the expertise on staff. I consult not only with other veterinarians but also with the expert veterinary technicians.


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