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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Looks Prevail Over Health

Anyone in veterinary practice knows "those" clients.  Okay, there are many types of "those", so let me be a little more detailed.  The clients who care more about their pet's appearance than they do their health.  Such clients usually manifest in one of two ways.

First are the clients who would rather get them groomed than do any basic preventative care.  I know I've ranted about this before, but now is the time for a good reminder.  We offer heartworm testing and prevention and they say "Oh, I can't afford that right now."  Then as soon as they leave the clinic they end up at the grooming salon spending $60+ on a professional trim for their dog.  Forget the fact that the dog only has a rabies vaccine and they aren't using any other preventative care.  That dog NEEDS a good hair cut. 

The second situation is like a client we had in today.  She would rather see her dog have dental disease than have it's leg shaved.  Seriously!  When we do dental cleanings the pets must be anesthetized to do the procedure safely and effectively.  Our anesthesia protocols require an IV catheter be placed, and we usually do that in one of the front legs.  This dog is a schnauzer with typically long "feathers" on the legs.  Several years ago when we did the first dental cleaning the owner threw a fit because the leg had been shaved and she wasn't expecting that.  Ever since then she won't do dental cleanings because we have to shave a leg.  In the meantime, dental tartar and gingivitis are growing worse and the dog will end up with full-blown periodontal disease if it doesn't have a dental cleaning.

Unfortunately you can't say much to these kinds of people.  They have something set in their mind and you can't convince them otherwise.  It frustrates me to no end because I'd rather see a dog shaved but have healthy gums, or be matted and not have heartworms.  Still, as I've practiced I've grown to learn that there is only so much you can do with some people, and the pet is the one that ends up suffering because of their lack of understanding and caring.


  1. I completely agree!! I do hope, though, that you recognize that sometimes when an owner says "I can't afford it" they truly can't. My dogs have both needed dentals for two years; I had to reject doing it last year because our financial situation just wouldn't allow it.

    I'm not one of those people that says that and then drives away in a brand-new car, though. I truly couldn't pay for it and didn't have any corners left to shave for the last two years.

    Nevertheless, I've felt bad the last couple years doing the (cheaper) basic preventative care (vaccinations, wellness exam) because deep down I just know the vet is looking at my animals and saying "what kind of jerk won't do a dental on this dog?" And more importantly, because I know that my dogs probably are experiencing unnecessary pain/discomfort - but I just can't DO anything about it. That's hurt, because I love my pets.

    On the positive side, we're more in the black now and our dogs are both getting dentals tomorrow.

  2. I at first thought this was going to be about those clients who come in with their hair highlighted, fresh mani/pedi and high end clothes that tell you "I can't afford it" when I ask about a heartworm test. But the clients you mentioned drive me batty as well. The grooming thing kills me.

    I fully understand not having money, but don't sit there and drink your Starbucks and then tell you want "the rabies only". I don't judge those that truly have fallen on hard times and want what's best for their pets, just those that won't eschew their own luxuries for the sake of basic pet care.

  3. I'd ask her how pretty she thinks her dog will look without any teeth in it's head.

  4. Sheesh. While I (as a future psychologist) do understand the importance of appearances, my dog is my friend and companion, not an accessory. He's a short haired breed and I haven't gotten him groomed yet (he's getting a bit scraggly and probably needs it) but he HAS had his exams and puppy shots.


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