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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Well, Poop!

Here's a consequence of being in veterinary medicine that nobody seems aware of. When you're around animals on a daily basis you WILL get "stuff" on you. There is literally not a bodily excretion or fluid that I haven't had on me at one time or another. Most of the time you just get used to it since it all washes off. To someone in this profession, it's really not a big deal to get blood, pus, urine, feces, etc. on you. If that kind of thing really bothered you or disgusted you, you simply wouldn't last long.

Some days, however, are worse than others. Like today. The very first pet I handled was a dog that had been dropped off to be neutered. And apparently he wasn't too happy about it as he tried to bite my tech. I managed to get ahold of him so that she could put a muzzle on, but this was not easy. He was fighting me and flailing and really putting up a struggle. A 30 pound dog really isn't too hard for me to manage, and I was able to keep him relatively still. However, when a pet is really scared and stressed, they will often release their bowels and bladder. And he did so. In abundance. By the time we got him muzzled the floor and my legs were covered in feces and urine. He had managed to defecate right on my shoe, leaving a really big turd right in the middle. His struggles had also managed to get feces up and down both of my legs and one of my socks.

Many people reading this are probably completely disgusted and would have even thrown up if they had been that covered in poop. But not a vet. Oh, I was really ticked off, but it was because of the inconvenience. A little poop can be washed off, but this was too much to easily clean, and I couldn't exactly spend the day seeing clients with feces-covered pants. So I had to reschedule my appointments for an hour or so, drive home, change clothing, and drive back to work. I was more ticked that I had to change clothes and interrupt my schedule than I was about what exactly I had gotten on me. And that's the mindset of a vet. Yeah, we're not exactly normal.

Oh, and I got my revenge. He still got neutered.


  1. Speaking from experience, a change of clothes kept in a locker or closet can keep such interruptions to a minimum (and thus keep your stress level down). If you are superstitious, maybe just having them there will prevent at least some of these messy encounters.

  2. spare set in the car if you can - only way to be presentable despite what lovelies get squirted at you.
    Let's face it - try and spend the day with anal gland on you !!!

  3. Not a vet, but a dog walker, and I've been covered in poo, sick, drool and wee as well. Some days I'm so glad I don't have a sense of smell. I have a change of clothes in the van, also wet wipes and antiseptic foam but sometimes I just long for soap and water!

  4. I normally don't keep a set of clothes in the car because in 25 years of being in veterinary medicine I've never gotten this much feces on me.

    Yep, I've had the anal glands on me as well!

  5. I'm amazed that more vets don't do what farmers do, and just wear coveralls. They're cheap, rugged, very washable, and you can simply keep a stack of them in the car/truck/surgery. They're also a nice, thick layer of additional denim between you and teeth or claws.

    For me a typical day will get anything from simple mud stains, tree resins, through an entire list of types of dung, blood and viscera, placenta in lambing season. It doesn't sound as if you do much with large animal practice so rubber boots might be overdoing it, but especially until the more unruly animals are pinioned, there's a lot to be said for sturdy work gloves. I like deer hide for my gloves - when they get holes, I just go back to the stack and get another pair.


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