Mars and Venus at the Vet: 5 Ways Men and Women Differ When It Comes to Pet Care

Man and Woman at Vet

The cult popular book says that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. It's a solid observation that I can really get behind. Indeed, from a veterinarian’s perspective, nowhere does this hold faster than when it comes to how my clients act out their animal issues in the exam room.

Since my earliest beginnings in veterinary practice, I’ve noticed the differences. Even as a preteen “kennel girl,” observing owners who’d come to visit their hospitalized pets, one thing was obvious: Everything from how owners interact with their pets to how they talk to the veterinarian (and to each other) often seems divided along gender lines.

Most of you are likely acquainted with this reality as well. But did you know that most of these differences can be largely explained by brain science?

It was another read by Matt Ridley that led me to this realization: The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature, which helped clarify for me how it is that men and women have evolved to divvy up the heavy lifting required to survive as a species.

It all makes sense when I observe clients interacting with their pets, human family members — and me.

Here’s how I see it, and how brain science, in particular, weighs in on the Mars versus Venus thing.

The Female Emotional Intelligence Factor

Women have more highly developed emotional abilities, as evidenced by our larger deep limbic system. Our sensitivity in this area means not only that it’s easier for me to bond with my female clients, but also that lots of nonverbal cues are easily communicated in my discussions with female clients. This can save me a lot of time. They just “get it” more readily when we have that connection already.

Men are less likely to pick up on things women automatically intuit. And they’re less likely to see me as bond-worthy. So lots of my conversations with men involve words repeated in a variety of ways to ensure comprehension. “So let’s recap . . .”

The Way Women Use Words

Women use language more often. Our brains are just more language dominant. We’ll talk through a situation exhaustively, if need be, adapting our thinking as we process a diagnosis or a recommendation using words.

Meanwhile, men tend to get tongue-tied or clam up altogether, which is another reason I repeat myself a lot when I talk to male clients. (They also don’t tend to offer me as many emotional or verbal cues to go on.)


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