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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.