Saying No To the Vet

How to Say No To the Veterinarian

Carol Bryant

One of the most stressful things a dog parent can say to a veterinarian is no.  The vet is a trusted source who holds your dog’s life in the palm in their hands: At least that’s how I view our dog’s veterinarian.

No matter how much your dog’s veterinarian rocks, how much you love them, or how you completely do not want to say “no,” there may come a time that it has to happen.  Here’s how to handle it with grace, ease, and in the name of being your dog’s advocate:

 Second Opinion

Imagine this scenario: You are at the veterinarian with your dog because the dog has bloody diarrhea. Despite all the best efforts, medicines of the traditional and non-traditional variety, and testing the vet can do in office, things just don’t seem to be changing for the dog.

Which of the following would put you more at ease and help your dog in the long run:

A veterinarian who does not take offense to a second opinion requested by the client;

A veterinarian who suggests the client get a second opinion and/or refers to the client to a specialist;

Both of the above are correct with the dog’s best interests in mind.

A second opinion happens when seeking medical advice from an equally credentialed vet while a referral deals with sending the client to a specialist. It is incredibly scary to ask for a second opinion if you believe your dog’s regular veterinarian will be offended or get upset.

Some veterinarians will help clients make the second opinion visit or you may choose to do it yourself.

In Your Dog’s Best Interest

Never second guess your gut feeling. As a dog mom first and foremost, that inner feeling that says, “I have to do more” or “something isn’t right” has never failed me. From a professional journalistic perspective, put your dog’s needs ahead of your own anxieties. The best way to tackle fear is to face it and realize you can survive.  I know: I’ve been there. The worst a veterinarian can say is “No, I can’t help you get a second opinion or a specialist” and that’s not the kind of vet you want to visit anyway.

When to Say “No” or Seek a Second Opinion

You have every right to say no if you do not want your dog to receive treatment or disagree with the course of action. Consider though, that a caring veterinarian with whom you have developed a relationship isn’t likely to recommend treatment for the “heck of it.”

Say “no” if:

You are confused about the treatment that is about to be performed;

You feel pressured into doing something that you want to learn more about;

You don’t want to buy food or medications at the veterinarian. Keep in mind not all sources of pet food and/or medications are created equally, so I tend to just get my dog’s medications from the vet’s office;

You want a second opinion or a referral to a specialist;

Politely say:

“I’d really like to know more about the tests you are about to perform. Can you please explain them?”

“I’d like to purchase the food elsewhere, so can you please let me know the name of the brand and type I should buy?”

“I trust your expertise but I’d really like to seek a second opinion. Is there someone you can recommend?”

“Is there a specialist you can recommend to help my dog with this issue?”

Why Does No Feel So Wrong?

As a species, we want to please: I totally get that. I worship our dog’s veterinarian. Like any good relationship, however, I respect my dog’s vet enough to know he wants me (the one who pays the bills, who cares for my dog, and who has to close her eyes at night with a clean conscience that I did everything I could to help my dog) to feel that every stone has been turned over when it comes to helping my dog. He doesn’t take offense to my wanting a referral and has actually sent me and my dog on our merry way when his expertise reached its limit. He is a bright and skilled man whose thinking is progressive and caring enough to say “your dog needs care outside my realm.”

No feels wrong because we want to please and we want our dog’s veterinarian to treat our dog as if though that dog were his or her own.

If you have that veterinarian, pat yourself on the back for a job well done. If you aren’t sure if you have that veterinarian, take some time to ask questions on the next visit.

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