Veterinarians Answer: What Is Your Biggest Pet Parent Peeve?

We love our vet dearly and treat him with love and respect. But we often refer to him as a Saint. I have to face it, dealing with me isn't exactly a walk in a park. I get concerned about every little thing that could potentially be a symptom, I have endless questions, and I leave no stone unturned and I challenge everything that doesn't feel right to me. And he's been bearing with me for all these years. I think he deserves a medal.

So I got curious, how much does he really mind all this?

Then I got more curious, and I wanted to learn what is the one thing we, pet parents, do (or don't do) that veterinarians find the MOST frustrating?

Are you ready to find out? Are you guilty of these deeds?

Hmmmm... My biggest pet peeve with clients would have to be when they let their children run all over the hospital or exam room without attempting to discipline them. Kids climbing up my pants and lab coat or rolling around licking the baseboards is not appreciated, safe, or sanitary.

The most frustrating? People who don't value their pets or care for them responsibly. Some people still don't believe pets feel pain; others want to euthanize their pets when they become inconvenient. The worst is when they return (after I have declined to perform medically unwarranted euthanasia) a week later with a new puppy-- from a pet store of course. 

—Dr. Laci Schaible, DVM, VetLIVE
    Dr. Laci on Facebook and Twitter


The failure of the 4 generations of pet owners, now raised on Disney shows, to recognize or even entertain the suggestion that their pet may be in pain. If it does not whine or limp it must not be in pain. Denial that loss of weight, gain of weight, sleeping more, sleeping less, change in personality, change in activity, or fatigue, could be signs of illness or pain is not comprehensible to some people. They would rather blame age and ignore the pain, or deny the disease and ignore the need for treatment. Pus leaking around loose teeth and swollen joints are often ignored. If the pet  can still eat and stand up, they must not be suffering. Many households only have one pet of a species so they lack another normal pet to compare their sick one with and consequently ignore the deterioration in health.

Since many pet owners do not recognize their limitations as identifiers of pet pain, they then obstruct attempts to prevent or mitigate pain. Simple strategies, that can be started with puppies and kittens, can do a lot to prevent or mitigate pain during their lives, but are not adopted by as many owners as they could be, since they do not see the need.

Sadly, there are those people who feel that love is enough to vaccinate their pet against suffering. More times than I would like to remember, I have had an owner tell me how much they loved their pet and how well they take care of the pet. Subsequent examination of the pet would then reveal issues like rotten teeth, infected ears and skin, fleas, obesity, cancer, arthritis, and hypersensitive myofascial trigger points.

When these owners are lead to these issues and explained their significance as a cause of pain, one hears the responses
a) he is old and that is normal,
b) it cannot hurt he still eats and goes for a walk,
c) oh I could never put him through treatment  it would be cruel and so on.

Meanwhile the suffering continues...

—Dr. Rae Worden, DVM , Fergus Veterinary Hospital
    Dr. Rae on Facebook and Twitter


My biggest pet caretaker (I don't use the term "pet parent") peeve is when they don't consider lean body weight maintenance and periodontal health to be of higher priority on a daily basis.

As obesity and periodontal disease are the most common diseases veterinarians diagnose on a physical exam, they are conditions that are quite avoidable. Yet, most pet caretakers don't make attempts to prevent these conditions and instead only strive to make changes when significant secondary problems arise, such as foul odor from the mouth, decreased appetite, internal organ system abnormalities, arthritis pain, immobility, and more.

 —Dr. Patrick Mahaney, The Daily Vet
     Dr. Patrick on Facebook and Twitter


What is my biggest pet parent peeve?

Delaying treatment. I often see pets so late in the course of their diseases that their prognosis suffers.

At the very least, treatment is more difficult and expensive than it would have been otherwise... to say nothing of the unnecessary suffering the pet has had to endure.

What is the one thing pet parents do/don't do that I find the most frustrating?

I once practiced in an exceptionally wealthy part of the United States and was floored at the number of people (who had just parked their Range Rovers in front of the clinic) who resisted spending what I  considered to be moderate amounts of money on their pets' care. It seemed like people of modest means were willing to move heaven an earth to help their pets while the wealthy were counting their pennies. Kudos to those who put a priority on the health of their nonhuman family members; shame on those who don't while having (more than) the means to do so.

—Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM, Fully Vetted


The #1 most frustrating thing pet parents do, is buy a puppy.

First of all, buying a dog instead of adopting one, but even beyond that, with no consideration of the puppy's expected behavior profile, with no thought of what the breed was bred for originally. Just assuming the dog will magically grow up to be healthy and well-adjusted all by itself, that the parent will magically know how to train the dog without professional help.

The longer I do this job, the more I think putting dogs through proper school, with proper teachers, like we do with children, should be a requirement of pet ownership.

—Dr. Greg Magnusson, DVM (Leo's Daddy), Leo's Pet Care
    Dr. Greg on Facebook and Twitter 


Not understanding that having a pet is a privilege and not a right.  Owning a pet (providing proper nutrition, yearly examinations, PROPER vaccination) is costly and requires a financial commitment from the pet's owner for just routine care.

Once an emergency pops up, care can become instantly very expensive (many many accidents and illnesses can run thousands of dollars).

Even without an emergency, eventually that cute puppy or kitten that you took into your house will become geriatric. Eventually we all get sick. Geriatric care can also become expensive and burdensome. There is also a time commitment to owning a pet.  Pets need to be walked and  played with to provide exercise and mental stimulation and medicated and cared for when they are sick at home.  People need to be aware of these facts and carefully decide whether or not buying or adopting a pet fits into their schedule and budget.

—Robert Foley, DVM, Angry Vet
    Dr. Rob on Facebook and Twitter


I think my biggest pet peeve is that people look for advice from places with little to no credentials provided to them. Specifically, breeders, pet stores, and the ever self-entitlement Internet  giving veterinary and nutritional,etc advice.

Nothing burns my butt more than a client coming in the door and telling me that "their " whoever " told them that skin disease was from corn, or some other food ingredient, and that they should be on ___ diet, supplement, additive, to cure it."

I sincerely appreciate that pet patents are becoming more and more invested and inquisitive about their pets health but please remember that your breeder, pet supply/ food store employee, etc., didn't attend veterinary college and shouldn't give medical advise. Argh!!

I'm all for getting advice from lots of sources but please use caution and check credentials.

—Dr. Krista Magnifico, DVM, Diary of a Real-Life Veterinarian
    Dr. Krista on Twitter


My biggest pet parent peeve?

Pet parents that ask for advice but then don't like the answer and won't follow through with the recommendations.

I find this most often occurs when the pet is over-weight and the pet parents aren't ready to accept it or implement changes in the animal's environment regarding diet and exercise.

What is the one thing pet parents do/don't do that I find the most frustrating?

I find the majority of pet parents don't exercise their pets regularly enough or for a long enough duration of time.  The weekend warriors often suffer the most. 

—Dr. Roxane Pardiac, DVM


My biggest pet parent pet peeve is when families decline what I feel is important care, because I have seen the flip side of that, and how awful preventable conditions can be for pets and their people.

—Dr. Shawn M. Finch, DVM, Riley & James 
    Dr. Shawn on Twitter


At first glance, I planned to respond that my biggest frustration is “ignorance”.  It’s disheartening to have a client whose paradigm about pet care doesn’t align with common sense and quality veterinary medicine.

But then I realized that some of my best and favorite clients over the years entered my practice with ignorance about an important aspect of their pet’s health.  When enlightened, however, these clients embraced the information and enthusiastically made changes, in areas such as diet, weight management, dental care, toenail trimming, training, etc. 

Upon reflection, I realize my answer lies in a client’s failure to respond to appropriate information.  My biggest pet parent peeve is when I passionately explain something that I know will improve my patient’s quality of life, and the client doesn’t convert that information into an action.

On the flip side, watching clients receive knowledge and adjust accordingly is one of my favorite parts of my job!

—Dr. Julie Buzby, ToeGrips
    Dr. Julie on Facebook and on Twitter


Are you innocent of these things? Or guilty as charged?

The message to take home is: please, don't let your dog suffer!


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  1. I would have to agree with the doctor who talked about pet parents who don't kisten to her advice. I find it extremely frustrating when clients come in, pay for doctor's exam and thoughts, but already had their mind set about what they think is in the best interest for their pets. It is usually not... But that is not to say everyone should just blindly follow what a doctor says if they don't think its right. Very nice article.

    1. Hi Ann, yes, I totally agree. There is a difference between blind obedience and not following through with a treatment one agreed on. I also really agree with the thoughts about not only not being able to recognize pain but ignoring the information when they are alerted to it.

  2. I have been a pet custodian for more than 25 years and include six cats and three dogs in my family. I had dogs, cats, guinea pigs, mice, a squirrel and a crow as pets growing up.
    In all these years, with all these pets, I have had only ONE vet, Dr. Julie Buzby (above), who has been adamant about feeding high quality foods and natural snacks (green beans, carrots, cottage cheese), keeping my pets at their ideal weights, providing lots of exercise and play time, keeping their nails short, getting chiropractic adjustments (especially for my dachshunds), and keeping their teeth clean. She gave me examples of good foods, showed me how to shave nails, the best ways to play, and even how to brush teeth. My pets are very healthy and happy. It makes it easier to tell when something is wrong and to catch it early.
    I write this for the vets who are responding and reading this: PLEASE don't just talk in passing about what pet parents should be doing. Make a point of explaining why we need to do the things you suggest and how to do them. Teach us how to be the pet parents you would like to see and work with. After all, you are the experts and we need to hear it from you. I needed Dr. Buzby to be insistent for me to hear and understand how to be a better parent. It was advice I never would have gotten otherwise. And I'm so grateful to her for her tough love.

    1. Hi Julie, you're right in the sense that some vets just give out instructions without an explanation. Some I know about weren't even willing to explain their diagnosis and treatment.

      I'd like to believe, however, that such cases are rare. I know many veterinarians who explain things over and over, just to be ignored at the end of the day anyway.

      In any case, we, the pet parents, need to "sweep our own threshold" and do what's right by our pets. This starts with finding a veterinarian who is worthy of our trust, being open to hearing what they have to say and being diligent.


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