Chihuahua at a veterinary appointment with vets chatting in the background

Unfortunately, veterinarians like me are often in a position to bemoan the many ways in which my clients, colleagues and even random citizens manage to make our lives more of a stress-fest than it already is. Hence, the cheeky title of this post.

Now, if you’re reading this, I’m pretty sure you don’t tend to commit any such sins against your veterinarian. But in case you need a primer on what others do to test our sanity, here are nine ways to drive your vet nuts:

1. “Dine and dash.” Leave a box full of nine kittens 10 feet away from your vet’s back door. Run!

2. Talk bad about all the other veterinarians you’ve seen before. When we hear our colleagues excoriated (usually on the very first visit), can you help us for thinking you’ll be saying the same things about us when you move on to the next “mean-spirited, money-grubbing” veterinarian in your vicinity?

3. Blame us for your pet’s illness. It happens more often than you’d expect. People can be hurtful to others when they’re in pain. We know this. Nonetheless, it’s hard to muster the necessary compassion at the exact moment we’re being yelled at for a cancer we clearly had no hand in creating.

4. Create high drama (when it could have been avoided). Fail to spay your cat and bring her in while she’s pregnant and showing signs of early labor. Then beg to have her spayed right now!

But here’s the plot twist: You want her euthanized if she can’t be spayed, because you really “don’t know what to do” with the five kittens the X-ray confirms are on their way out right now!

5. Elect cruel and unusual treatment in lieu of euthanasia. When you decline euthanasia as a humane alternative for your cat with end-stage lung cancer (who happens to be in severe respiratory distress), many of us find it difficult to watch any animal go home to suffer.

6. Assume we’re supernaturally omniscient. This one happened to a colleague just a few days ago: His client threatened to sue him for failing to diagnose a condition. But here’s the kicker: His client was the one who refused to spend the money on the tests needed to determine if the condition was there in the first place. Catch-22s are no fun when we’re on the losing end.

7. Offer us an indecent proposal. When you ask us out on dates, things can get uncomfortable. This is especially true after we’ve already informed you that a) we’re dating someone else (or married), or b) as a rule, some of us don’t date our clients (it’s kind of unethical in certain circles). (Given the creepy persistence of some clients, we’d probably never be interested in them anyway. Yucky.)

8. Deny, deny, deny. “No, my cat can’t possibly have diabetes. She’s lost nine pounds over the past five months because I’ve had her on a diet.” “No, that hole under her eye isn’t there because her tooth root is not abscessed.” “No, she’s not fat; she’s just big-boned.” These common utterances have a way of making us squirm.

9. Accuse us of thievery or worse — steal our services. Complaining about the fees every single time you get an estimate or invoice isn’t going to change anything. It just makes everyone feel worse. Sure, we’ll work with any client who communicates their financial concerns. But accusing us of trying to steal will get you less than nowhere. What’s worse, however, is when you walk out the door without paying after you’ve agreed to our estimate and the service has already been performed. Sigh.

Again, let me reiterate: Clearly these examples are intended to reflect the behavior of a tiny minority of veterinary clients. Indeed, they are merely illustrative of the entertaining human behavior I’ve presented here for your amusement. And, of course, to prove yet again that truth is sometimes stranger than fiction in an animal hospital setting.

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