Why are Vets so Deliberately Annoying?

Medically Reviewed by Dr Pippa Elliott
person on the smartphone trying to call a vet

Have you ever felt frustrated by your vet?

Why won’t they dispense medications more freely without seeing the pet?

Perhaps your dog has yet another ear infection. The medication worked well last time, so you phone for more ear drops. But the vet reception says “No.” You ask why. “We’re not allowed. The dog has to see the vet.”

Through gritted teeth you make an appointment, whilst silently thinking of all the other things you’d rather spend that hard earnt cash on.

Or perhaps your dog has arthritis and needs more of his pills. Only the receptionist says “No, he has to see the vet.” Despite it only being a few months since his last visit, it seems there’s no compromise: No visit, no tablets.

So why is it that vets are so obstructive when it comes to supplying much needed medication for your pet? Of course the first answer that pops into most people’s minds is “Money”, whereas the fact is the vet has your pet’s best interests at heart.

Ear We Go Again

Bah! Making money more like.

Still not convinced?

Let’s look more deeply into that case of a sore ear.

Imagine the vet did what you asked and dispensed a bottle of ears drops. But after 24 hours the dog gets dramatically worse. Instead of having a sore ear he now has his head corkscrewed to one side, vomiting, and can barely walk. You’d be pretty worried, right?

The above is a distinct possibility if the dog’s ear drum is ruptured. This allows the medicated drops direct access to the middle and inner ear, where the drug damages the delicate mechanism, resulting in a head tilt and poor balance.

5 Real Reasons Why a Vet Check-up is in Your Pet’s Best Interests

Whilst it may be inconvenient to take your pet to the vet, here are five reasons why it’s the right thing to do.

  1. Do No Harm: Your vet has to be certain that prescribing a medication won’t do any harm. In the case of an ear infection, the consequences could be permanent deafness or loss of balance. Only by looking into the ear canal and seeing the ear drum can the vet be sure of doing no harm.
  2. The Bigger Picture: An ear infection is just a symptom. Repeated infections can be a sign of an allergy. Only by building up the bigger picture can the vet decide that an allergy workup is best and will settle the problem in the long term.
  3. Antibiotic Guardianship: Bacterial resistance to antibiotics is a real and serious threat to human health. The more frequently a medication is prescribed for a pet, the more likely resistance becomes. The vet needs to assess the best antibiotic for each case, and if in doubt take a swab.
  4. If you Hear Hoof beats…Is it a Horse? Or could it be a zebra? Perhaps this ear infection was triggered by a grass awn stuck deep in the ear canal. The symptoms are similar but the cause very different. The dog needs the grass awn removing rather than antibiotic drops.
  5. Deteriorations and Drug Interactions: You see your dog every day, so whilst to you it’s a smelly ear; to the vet it’s a severely narrowed ear canal. You could be wasting money on ear drops that are never going to penetrate down to where they are needed. Likewise, not all medications are compatible and your vet needs to be sure what else the dog is taking.

Legal Beagles

You’ve heard all that and still aren’t convinced. Then another truth is that the vet has a legal obligation to only dispense medicines to animals “Under their care”. Each vet has a legal responsibility to check that the prescription is fitting for the animal. This means if your beagle hasn’t been seen for over six months, the vet is failing in their legal duty to have the dog under their care.

In short, a vet that is seen to dispense medications without due care (i.e. being able to vouch for the condition of the pet they are prescribing medications for) then they could face disciplinary action by their governing body, the RCVS.

Still not convinced? That’s fine. Let’s take a peek inside a vet’s mind and what they are looking for at your pet’s routine med check-up.

The Dog with Kidney Disease:

  • Has the dog lost weight? A sign the dog’s condition has got worse and needs further help.
  • Has the dog got high blood pressure? A common complication which can cause blindness or a stroke. Spotting hypertension early can avert disaster.
  • How is the dog’s appetite? There are a variety of medications which can improve appetite and reduce the nausea associated with kidney disease.
  • Is it time to add in another medication? Does the dog’s physical condition indicate it’s time to be more aggressive with treatment?

The Heart of the Matter:

The dog with heart disease is more dependent on meds than most. So why make it difficult to collect more?

  • What is the dog’s heart rate and rhythm? Changes give valuable information about how well (or poorly) the dog is doing.
  • What do his lungs sound like? Changes in lung sounds are a strong indicator for reducing dosages or add in a new meds
  • Is he dehydrated? It’s possible to overdo diuretics and fine dose adjustments are frequently needed.
  • How strong is his pulse? Pulse quality gives valuable information about how the dog’s circulation is coping, and whether a crisis is imminent or not.
    Of course communication is key, so let’s hope the receptionist at your clinic is blessed with better powers of expression than the one in our introduction. However, next time you feel frustrated that you can’t just phone to collect much needed meds, bear in mind that it’s your pet that will suffer if things go wrong and all anyone wants the best care for your canine companion.

Have you encountered problems obtaining meds from your vet? Please share your experiences and leave a comment.

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