Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I'm not a Veterinarian, but I play one on T.V.

I work for a Veterinarian.  I've worked at a Vet clinic since I got out of grooming school...and we've established that was a really long time ago.  This doesn't make me a Vet at all, surprisingly enough. I groom dogs, and cats, and the occasional Guinea Pig,  but don't offer medical advice to people regarding their pets.

Ok, actually I do give advice.  These conversations go something like this:

Pet Owner:  My dog has been limping for 3 weeks, how much baby aspirin should I give him? 
Me:  You need to take him to the Vet, and you shouldn't give him baby aspirin.

Pet Owner:  My cat has been throwing up for 5 days.  What do you think is wrong with him?
Me:  You need to take him to the Vet. 

Pet Owner:    My dog's ears are red, and they really bother him, is there some kind of medication I can buy at Walmart for that?
Me:  Take your dog to the Vet!

These people (normally, not clients, just people who know me) all want me to tell them how to "heal"  their pets for very little money or better yet, NO money.  Crazy thing is, if my pets are sick, I take them to the vet.   I don't treat my own dogs with knowledge I've gained from working for a vet.  And, no, I don't get everything for free.   I know this is a universal problem.  If you work doing anything with animals, or even just owned a dog for 3 weeks in 1992,  you get these kind of questions. 

I do feel that a very important part of my job is finding health problems the owner may have missed.  I find lumps and bumps, ear infections, and eye problems, just to name a few.  Sometimes, these are in places that people just don't pet their dogs.  Other times, the problems are hiding underneath the mass of thick hair I am removing. 

Some of my clients think I know a bit more than their Vet.  To be fair, my clients see me many more times a year than they do their Vet.  They trust me, and I certainly do know their dog.  Sometimes they will have conversations like this with their pet's Dr.:

Vet:  Your pet needs to have surgery to have this lump removed.
Client: Hmm, I'd like to consult with D about that.  She will know what I should do.

I don't encourage this type of thing at all.  But, it happens all the time.  Dr. S, a good friend of mine, and a Vet I used to work with, laughingly called us the "Fricking Groomers"  because of this.  He took the slam to his hard-earned degree in Veterinary Medicine in stride.  He found the humor in the fact that they really did think we knew more.  It all works out in the end, the dog gets the medical treatment prescribed, as we concur with the Dr.'s diagnosis, every time.


  1. Hilarious!!! People ask me stuff like that all the time (why? because I own dogs?) - I can offer theories but I always recommend the vet for a real answer!

  2. If it's any consolation, this phenomenon is even worse in the horse world. People (SOME people, anyway) will believe the farrier before the vet and the guy at the feed store before the farrier. So in essence, they seem to believe that the person with the most education is the least qualified. Yeah, that makes sense. Oh, wait a minute....

    Fortunately, most groomers (well, ALL groomers of my acquaintance, at least) advise, as you do, that the owner seek medical care for the pet. I have many and many a time gotten a referral from one or another of the local groomers who has discovered some lump, bump, lesion or discharge that had escaped the owner's notice. Sometimes these referrals came complete with a handy ziploc full of soiled Q-tips form the dog's ear (whuch I will tell you are gratefully received, no matter how gross that sounds). So to you and other such groomers I have to say: Thanks for your observant eyes, your willingness to collect ear goo for us - and your persuasive powers in getting your clients to seek care for their pets. Not to mention your amazing de-stenching skills! :D

  3. Welcome AKDD! Thank you for your kind words regarding my chosen profession. The last thing most of us want to do is offend our area veterinarians!

    PS: I really do have some wicked de-stenching skills!