Not everyone loves children and, certainly, a proportion of people who choose to become vets would rather avoid them and stick to dealing with animals.
However, it’s important to realise early on that, depending on the type of vet you become, you're likely to see a large number of worried pet-owning children walk through your consulting room door.
In general practice, farm vets are most likely to have adult clients to deal with, although some children will be very involved in the family business from an early age and may attend appointments.
Equine vets will treat a lot of children’s ponies and, as such, may be expected to discuss the pony’s health and prognosis with the child as much as the parents.
However, it is the small animal practice vet who is most likely to meet children as the owners of small, caged pets, as well as part of family units worried about their dog or cat.
Not everyone is comfortable with children, but you must be able and willing to hold a conversation with them to ensure you fully explain the care and treatment of their beloved pet and the importance of their role in that.
If the thought of this causes panic, consider becoming a farm vet rather than a small animal vet, where you are likely to encounter young owners most often.
If a child is obviously interested and asking lots of questions about pet care, try not to get frustrated and do your best to answer in a way the whole family can understand. Remember, you are providing a service to all the family, not just the bill payers.
Unfortunately, many young owners attend with older, ailing small pets, including rodents and rabbits. Treatment options in these cases can be limited and humane euthanasia may be required.
Parents may have anticipated this. However, life and death is a difficult concept for children, and the family may prefer to outline the situation their own way.
If possible, before proceeding, allow parents a few minutes alone with their children, so they can explain the fate of the pet in a way they are comfortable with.