Surprising Things That Veterinarians Do That You May Not Expect

Vet checking cat for microchip
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Veterinarians often find themselves tracking down the rightful owners of microchipped pets found wandering the streets.

Animals are unpredictable and animal people can be eccentric, which explains why veterinary hospitals are places where odd things often happen. Indeed, you might be surprised at some of the strange activities veterinarians include in a regular workday.

Seeing our appointments, treating patients, scrubbing up for surgery and making oodles of telephone calls… these tasks you might easily imagine us doing. But others — some strange, some not so much (but still unexpected) — might lend a new perspective on your veterinarian’s daily doings.

All in a Day's Work

Consider the following oddball adventures in veterinary medicine:

1. We take on kitten detail. Take, for instance, the recent appearance of a brood of kittens abandoned overnight by the back door. Anyone else might’ve recoiled at the sight of a damaged cardboard box rocking back and forth of its own volition. We knew better. In our vast experience with these things, kittens are always contained therein.

Opening these back door gifts is like unleashing a volcanic eruption of fur and cuteness into our lives. The next month or two is inevitably replete with all manner of healthcare and adoption-related stress.

Bet you didn’t figure your vet for such a sucker, but there it is. Of course, don’t let this information give you any crazy kitten-relinquishing ideas. We have a camera by the back door and we’ll surely recognize you if you try the same trick on us.

2. We play the role of pet police. Veterinarians are often at the center of many legal and regulatory issues, from tracking down the rightful owner of a microchipped pet, to ensuring pets receive the necessary paperwork in advance of an international trip. Indeed, we spend so much time filling out legal and regulatory paperwork (rabies certificates too, of course), it's a wonder we don't hire an in-house notary!

3. We take our patients home with us. Yes, it’s true. For patients who aren’t so critical that round-the-clock emergency care is required, and whose owners aren’t comfortable with remote camera surveillance or leaving their pet in the clinic alone overnight, some veterinarians take their patients home. Not all of us, mind you, but when I’m worried about an animal, it’s better than sleeping on the clinic floor overnight.

4. We create pet couture. Now, I’m not referring to cute muscle T-shirts and frilly tutus. Rather, the stuff I’m talking about is custom-snipped and designed to keep pets from traumatizing their own wounds or licking at their stitches. Believe it or not, there’s an art to this endeavor. Old T-shirts, bandage fixings and stockings are excellent materials for this uniquely veterinary craft.

5. We act as social media mavens. Though veterinary team members are typically discouraged from pulling out smartphones and tablets during the course of a normal workday, many veterinary hospitals exempt a couple of team members. These are the individuals whose talent with a camera and/or the world of social media makes them ideally suited to taking and posting pics of our personnel, patients and pet owners (with their permission, of course).

These five activities may not be what most pet owners expect from their veterinarians but, as I said, sometimes the real world of veterinary medicine has a way of surprising all its participants — vets included. 


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