How do you break up with your vet?

Have you ever broken up with your vet? If so, why? Care to share your experiences?

“The Veterinarian,” Norman Rockwell.

I’ve not totally made up my mind to do this, but I’ve been thinking lately about finding another vet. It’s not for any serious disputes, though. In general, they’ve been great, and they’re always very responsive when we have issues. We were in their office every week in April, for various issues, and they were supportive and kind.

So, why am I thinking about breaking up?

Cons

  • Distance. It takes us about an hour by car, round trip, to get to them. This exhausts me. And it’s an added expense.
  • Sometimes I question their knowledge base. Naturally, I do not have a vet degree, and so I trust them… but with all of our health issues lately, sometimes I felt like I was the one pointing things out or suggesting tests or treatments. That made me feel uneasy.

But maybe I’m crazy, because:

Pros

  • Seem to be cheaper than most local vets, who cater to the rich pups (our town is wealthier than we are).
  • Really sweet, all-female staff.
  • Have worked with lots of shepherds from the girls’ rescue, so they are very familiar with shy German shepherds.

I don’t want to break up with them, because they are so nice, but Guion wants to. He’d prefer to go somewhere nearby, and he also feels like their advice sometimes doesn’t make sense. What do you think? Am I crazy for even considering it?

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16 thoughts on “How do you break up with your vet?

  1. Hi Abby, I understand what you are going through. I currently use a vet in town that is highly rated, very knowledgeable, up to date on all the latest stuff, etc. With that said, his staff is cold, unfriendly, never remembers us (we have seen this vet for 8 years!) and there is always a turn over with the staff. Therefore my dogs are never comfortable there, always scared, but he is a good vet. On the other hand there is another vet, just down the street from my house. Almost like you described- All female staff, love my dogs, My dogs LOVE them, the vet has a GSD so she is knowledgeable about breed specific issues. If I have to leave them there for something they are “happy” there because the girls at the office love on them, where as they would never be happy at their “normal” vet office.

    With that said, I feel that they vet is not as knowledgeable. She is young and not as experienced as my normal vet. So, what I do is use both of them.. My “normal” vet is where they get their yearly checks. If something odd comes up, like an ear infection, broken toe, etc. Then they go visit the ladies at the vet down the street. Recently, I took Storm to the lady vet because she had very red eyes. I was thinking eye infection however she diagnosed Pannus- a rare eye disease common in Shepherds (that is a whole other story)…however, she admitted me to me that she never had a case before. I of course went to my “normal” vet for another opinion, he concurred and has seen cases as he is more experienced. All this is to say you can have multiple vets. Maybe get a vet closer for the normal check ups and maybe emergencies where time is up the essence, however, since you have the relationship with the other and your dogs are happy there use them for the odds and ends stuff.

    I laugh when people ask me who my vet is. Let’s see, they have one down the street, one across town, a chiropractor (who is also a vet) and I even go to an holstic vet on a rare occasion for a specific need.
    I have good relationships with all of them and they are aware of each other. They all just serve a specific purpose for me and for my dogs. Hope that helps!

  2. I have broken up with a vet before, and it wasn’t an easy decision, but I’m so glad I did it. The only relationship with a vet that works is one where it’s a true partnership. They have the degree in veterinary medicine, you have the more intimate knowledge that comes from living with an animal day in and day out, and at the end of the day, you need to be working together to keep your dogs healthy. If you can’t do that because you keep butting heads, or because the vet is on a high horse and won’t listen to you, or whatever – your dogs are not going to get the best possible care. I personally have a traditional and a holistic/integrative vet, and both dogs and one of my cats have seen both vets. I enjoy being able to to come at something from different angles – I listen to what each says, and then I make the final decision, based on what feels right to me. Sometimes I land on the traditional side, sometimes on the holistic side, but I always feel better for having had the benefit of listening to the advice of two very solid points of view from two vets I really trust.

    One thing you might do is do a pre-breakup visit with the vet you are thinking of switching to. You don’t even have to bring the dogs – just meet with the vet, tell him or her why you are thinking of switching vets, and maybe take his/her temperature on some issues that are important to you, whatever those issues are. Mine are diet and being judicious about the use or overuse of vaccines and medications. See if you’re a good fit before you make the jump.

  3. I’ve been on the fence about this same thing for a while. My original vet was the one recommended to me by SGSR when I did my first home visit… before even getting my girl.

    I love the vet for my cat — she had distemper as a kitten and it resulted in some long-term balance issues (specifically, rear end is weak) and he stays on top of it and explains what he’s doing and what to look for and what I can do to help her maximize quality of life.

    But I have been less than impressed with their care of my shepherd… not because they do anything “wrong” per say, but they do some things that make me a bit uneasy (take her in the back to give her shots, rather than right there, etc). We’re not there often (thank goodness… Riley’s pretty healthy, knock on wood), but it would be nice to feel really good about where I take her and there are a LOT of closer options.

    So… I’m on the fence.

    Either way, I’d probably continue to take the cat there, since she only goes about once a year and I’m REALLY impressed with how the vet handles her. So I’d be half breaking up with them.

    Regardless of what you decide, nice to hear I’m not the only one thinking about this kind of thing!!

  4. OMG. If it’s a ‘break-up’, then I am guilty of the worst break-up behaviour! Not returning calls, just never calling them back… generally never hearing from me ever again like I mysteriously disappeared, until one day you see me on the street unexpectly, laughing heartily at something my new vet just said.

    But that’s how I do it. I just move on. Get set up on blind dates by friends with their vet. See if there’s a ‘connection’.

    It’s far more traumatic when a vet breaks up with us (i.e., goes on mat leave, retires), and we’re suddenly lost and vet-less.

    Though I suppose it’s probably better for all if we advised we’d be leaving and gave feedback. For instance, one vet baby talked to me (many baby talk to the dogs which is… whatever… but I couldn’t respect being treated like that myself), and I just never went back. Maybe she would’ve benefitted from knowing why we left. Or when a vet over-prescribes procedures/won’t take no for an answer – they should probably be told why they lose patients.

    As for your situation, those are some pretty strong pros. I might not get rid of them altogether, but might take on a second vet (polygamy!) that’s closer and has more knowledge base. They can be your emergency/second opinion vet, while the current office can be more of your general practitioners.

    I often call us “veterinarily promicuous” because we have one main vet, but also a holistic vet for second opinions and a specialist/surgeon.

  5. We broke it off with one of our vets after we told him that Kasper was a sensitive, fearful boy and the vet’s reaction was to grab him by the harness and wrestle him to the ground!! Kasper was so scared he wouldn’t even eat the PB…so not on! We simply did not go back, and should probably have complained to be honest…

    We’ve moved house quite a few times and every time have had to sign up to a new vet; we just disappear! We did pop in to our last vet to say thank you and good bye as they had been simply amazing, but other than that we simply switch to another vet and don’t get in touch with the previous vet again.

    Whenever we are moving house and are searching for a new vet, I always send them an email or set up an appt without the dogs first. I quiz them on how they are with over-excitable dogs (aka Zoey!) and how they are with fearful dogs such as Kasper. I ask if they are willing to treat them on the floor rather than on the table, if they would spend a few minutes getting to know the dogs before examining them, feed them treats etc. I ask what a growl means to them and what their reaction to one is. If I like their answers and they are female (Kasper is afraid of men) then we go with them 🙂

    You could definitely ask around for vet recommendations and meet up with a few and see what you think, then weigh up which vet you think is best for your pups. If you end up staying with your current vet it’s not like you have lost anything by asking around.

    (sorry for writing such an essay!)

  6. I broke up with my vet once. But I shamefacedly went back when I realized the new vet was over-priced and not someone I was comfortable with. Scheduling me for the first appointment of the day and then stroll in 30 minutes late with a coffee from Starbucks in hand, does not a good first impression make. It went downhill from there.

    The reason I broke up with my original vet was really more of my own emotional baggage than any fault on the vet’s part. He was really busy and I really overreacted to the fact that he didn’t call me back right away about some test results and we played phone tag a few times and I was just frustrated. I did go back though when I realized I had it pretty good there and hey, vets get busy too and sometimes they can’t always call back on our timetables. There are 3 vets there that see Blueberry routinely and that take the time to read her file each time and are always so patient and kind and while it isn’t around the corner like Starbucks-toting vet – it is still fairly close by (about 20-30 minutes away depending on traffic). I suppose it was probably more difficult for me to go back to that vet I had broken up (badly) with than the initial break up. Hehehe – but thankfully, they were really understanding, accepted my apology, admitted they could have handled that differently as well with the phone-tag situation.

  7. We’ve had a number of vets over a bunch of years and a bunch of dogs and almost all were terrific but along the way there were…how do I put this….an SOB or two…from who we ran away fast and at least once a guy who simply did not inspire confidence. I look at it this way: if the vet were my personal physician would I continue to retain him/her?

  8. I’m like Jen–I wouldn’t think it was a big deal to just go somewhere else, if I wanted to.

    I “dated around” for a while at our four-vet practice. Silas doesn’t like the male vet, who tries to be overly jolly with him in the waiting area. The one that I personally liked the best was, alas, mostly a cat vet. The other lady was excessively brusque. Our regular vet runs very hot and cold. Some visits she’s amazing. Lets Silas sit in my lap, remembers all of his allergies, etc. Some visits we’re just the next dog on her assembly line. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with her medical knowledge, though, plus they’re close and Silas likes her.

  9. I broke up with Neeko’s first vet, who was only her vet because of an urgent Sunday situation four days after we got her. She had a severe UTI, was a VERY sick babydog, and they were the only non emergency vet open on Sundays. I just stopped taking her. Started taking her to an awesome vet, and have not regretted it once.

  10. I did it last year. And yes, it was harder than I thought it would be (especially since I have 12 vets in my cell phonebook for work related things.) But the vet’s office that I LOVED got a new vet when my vet moved back to North Carolina to be with his ailing mother. The new vet seemed uncomfortable with my 10 month old GSD and muzzled him, then diagnosed his limp as OCD (Osteochondritis Dissecans) without x-rays — never even considering Panosteitis (which is most common in young/adolescent GSDs). Her bedside manner was gruff and condescending. BUT the staff was awesome, the owners (not vets, just animal activists) were wonderful, the hours convenient and the prices very affordable. Hubby and I went back and forth over this decision, finally moving to a guy whose closer and very familiar with GSDs, though he is more expensive and his hours are less convenient.

  11. Yep, I agree with Vanessa. Try the other vet you are considering. You can always go back to the old vet if needed. It’s not like they would take it too personally, in my opinion. People switch vets all the time when they move and so on.

  12. Don’t think of it as a break up in the first instance. Go and try the vet that is nearer to you – maybe for something like a vaccination or nail trim, and see how your dogs respond to their office and surrounds. Ask questions like “how many vets on duty; will I see the same vet nearly every time I come?” And don’t be bashful about asking for their pricing structure and if they give discounts for multiple dog households and those involved in rescue. Finally, you do need to consider your time and gas in driving to a vet that is farther away. One of the advantages of having vet near you that you are also comfortable with is that if you have an emergency, it won’t take as long to get help by a vet who knows your dogs.

    I recommend that my clients develop a relationship with a vet so that when their dog gets older and they face decisions about euthanasia, they have a trusted advisor on their side.

  13. After we lost our last dog at the end of 2011, I vowed never to set foot in the current vet’s office again and never to take any further dogs there. The reason was the way we were treated when the time came for our beloved giant breed dog to be put to sleep. There was a crisis (he had been sick with Lymphoma) overnight and first thing in the morning I called our vet to say it was time. He refused to come to our home to put our boy to sleep. The fact that he was literally two minutes drive (probably less than that) from our house, made no difference. We had to virtually carry our sick huge dog into the car and to the vet office, which was a place that our boy was always terrified of. So his last minutes on earth were doubly traumatic for him and us. After Max died, the vet left us both with him for a while. My husband left the room and sat in reception. Only the other side of the door, the vet and his nurses were laughing uproariously at some joke or other, while I was sitting on the floor with our boy, sobbing my heart out. My husband was so angry he had to walk outside.
    Now, we have a new vet who will come to our house should there be an emergency. It’s an all female practice and they practice low stress handling techniques on all their clients pets. The principal vet is a qualified vet behaviourist. So it’s an all round great place and I have recommended many people there. Our current young dog (another giant breed) loves going there and regards it as a happy event.

    I didn’t tell the previous vet that I was moving from them. I considered writing a letter but I couldn’t be bothered. I was too disgusted with them.

  14. Not crazy at all! I have gone through a large number of vets as I am very picky and can probably be hard to deal with myself. Even after I found my current vet it took me some time to be 100% sure and I visited another vet for Snoopy’s annual at one point. I think it is worth at least checking out another vet and see what you think! As far as breaking up… I suck and I just stop going. Never have had an issue with that but I suppose there is probably a more proper way to do it.

  15. I broke up with a vet due to them charging me a lot of money before they came to discuss it with me. I looked around a lot and found myself a great vet clinic, they are in the room adding up procedures before they perform them to see if it’s ok with me. My vet goes above and beyond. Their prices are lower then the place I went before. They even call me the next day to see how my dog is doing. It’s hard to find a vet clinic that cares. The vet who lives two minutes from your home and wouldn’t come to you shouldn’t be a vet. What a jerk. I have heard of some vets who will sit and mourn with the family.

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