When the owner is the obstacle

Written by: vet times jobs
Published on: 10 May 2016

Cat licking ice creamcone

Image © nic_ol / Fotolia

While many people set their career ambitions on the veterinary practice because of an affinity with animals, those who actually work in the profession know the ability to handle human interactions is equally important.

The challenges of handling a distressed owner with a gravely ill pet may be obvious, but fewer would-be veterinary professionals anticipate another difficult scenario that is becoming all too common: managing individuals who are over-indulgent and simply will not listen to advice.

The most frequent demonstration of this you are likely to encounter is the owner who spoils their pet with treats and titbits.

Dietary disasters

Allowing an animal to become overweight, whether by overfeeding or by feeding it the wrong kind of diet, directly impacts on its health and increased the risk of arthritis, liver problems and diabetes, among other conditions.

Imagine the frustration of telling an owner what damage they are doing, only to have them tell you how much puss loves his daily treats, and how cruel it would be to deny him that.

Often the over-indulgent owner listens politely and smiles at the advice the vet gives them, only to cheerfully state that nothing will change, thank them and leave.

Any aspiring vet must be prepared to deal with this difficult situation, watching pleasant, apparently well-meaning people fail to do the best thing for their animal because it would be unfair to prevent them "enjoying" themselves.

Killing them with kindness

There is often little that can be done to change these views, although some vets claim using photographs and illustrations to back up their explanations can be effective, while some are even prepared to bluntly tell the owner they are killing their beloved pet.

But most often, as a vet or veterinary nurse, you must be prepared to see a proportion of your animal clients experience slow deterioration in their health across the course of their lives, simply because their owners will not manage their diets correctly.

This is just one more important consideration for anyone keen to work in the profession, as some will find this sad fact hard to accept.