10 Pet Parent Complaints That Really Annoy Vets

In a column for USA Today, I couldn’t help but offer up the ways in which some clients can perturb us with their protests. I’d had a hectic week so the column just kind of wrote itself and got itself e-mailed before I had a chance to take it back. This is always a bad thing.

For my efforts, I got treated to disparaging e-mails and comments regarding my compassion for my clients, from people saying they would never want to see a veterinarian who thought so poorly of them. Hmmm, I thought… maybe they’re right and I was too harsh. And maybe they’re not.

Some pet owners really get my goat. They’re the ones whose moans, lamentations and out-sized hand-wringing makes me and my staff want to wring their necks. You know who they are. They’re not your favorites, either. They’re just as willing to regularly return food at restaurants and routinely declare war against anyone behind a counter. Tiresome, right?

In a veterinary environment, such whining takes on very specific forms. In an effort to exorcise the demons of a difficult week (and for your infotainment, of course), here’s a list of the most common pet owner complaints I hear.

1. The free pet wail

“This FREE [fill in the blank species] is costing me hundreds of dollars!”

Need I explain why this grievance grates like nails on a chalkboard?

2. Dental extraction denial

“But I’ve had dogs my entire life and none has ever needed all this expensive dentistry and all those extractions!”

Are you sure about that?

These owners want their pet to keep all her teeth but they’re unwilling or unable to do what’s necessary to mitigate the root cause: periodontal disease. Nor are they willing to accept that sometimes diseases truly are beyond our control.

3. The sick pet protest

A corollary to number two:

“Why do all my pets get sick?”
“How can this be?”
“What are you going to do about it?”
“Why isn’t he getting any better?”

To which I can only answer, “With your help, we will do our utmost to get your pets well again. We can only do as much as our technology and your cooperation (funds, sometimes) allows.”

I understand this one, really I do, partly because my (animal) family is commonly afflicted with all kinds of bizarre and stressful issues that aren’t always treatable. But to lodge a complaint against the veterinarian, as if it’s effectively the vet’s fault that your pet has X disease, (as many clients are wont to do) is completely unfair and highly counterproductive.

See Also: Dog Food Allergy Myths

4. The obesity whine

“But she eats almost nothing! How am I supposed to get her to lose weight?”

I don’t know, but something about her waistline tells me you’re feeding her too much, regardless of what you consider a reasonable volume.

5. The lost hair lament

“You did NOT clip the hair between her toes!” or, “Did you have to take off all that hair just to ultrasound her belly?”

Step away from the ledge and get a grip: It’s just hair!

6. She’s been vomiting for two weeks but I need an appointment NOW

It might be easy to say, “Your emergency is not our problem!” but the reality is otherwise, seeing as it’s not the patient’s fault his owner waited until the last minute.

7. “I found her by the side of the road …
… is it OK if I just leave her here?”

Much as I would like to help you (and I will), this is not a shelter. I expect you to do your part, too.

8. “I need a payment plan…”

Which is a perfectly acceptable request most of us can accommodate in some form or another (CareCredit is the one our hospital uses). But expecting the payment plan of your choice is another story. After all, a veterinary hospital shouldn’t have to play healthcare provider and banker.

9. The pet shop puppy nightmare

You might be surprised by all the negativity I get from some owners as I explain the many problems their “well researched” Internet purchase or “high quality” (read: expensive) pet shop puppy possesses. Everything from congenital eye diseases and heart murmurs to hereditary hip and knee diseases … people can get kind of testy.

But I’m just the messenger!

10. Impatience is not a virtue

When you show up twenty minutes after your appointment and expect to be seen quickly … well … let’s just say your expectations are unrealistic.


So can you tell I’ve had a bad week? Even so, perhaps I should take my own advice and keep my grumblings to myself. But then, it’s already too late for that.

So whaddaya think? Did I go too far?

By Dr. Patty Khuly, PetMD

Senior Cat Care
Top 10 Signs of Cancer in Dogs and Cats
Top 10 Ways To Protect Your Dog From Fleas

10 Pet Owner Complaints That Really Annoy Veterinarians originally appeared on petMD.com


Christine Jones
Christine J4 years ago

I'm sure that most of the time it's more difficult dealing with humans than with animals. That's been my experience of life in general so why wouldn't it be true in a vet clinic?

I've been extremely fortunate with my vets. I've been taking my pets to vets for over 30 years and in all that time I've only had one misdiagnosis. My advice is that you know you pet best, so if you feel the vet is wrong, get a 2nd or 3rd opinion. This doesn't mean ignoring advice just because you don't like it; I'm talking about when your gut really tells you something is wrong. When this happened to me I persevered and went to a different vet until it was discovered there really was something serious and painful going on and my pet was at last given the correct treatment.

Remember that vets are human and they make mistakes like we all do. They do a difficult job and 99% of the ones I've dealt with have been wonderful.

Beatriss Black
Beatriss Black4 years ago

Please post more forex trading platform of this. I largely enjoyed it.

Lisa B.
Lisa Beatty5 years ago

Your remarks all sound perfectly reasonable to me. I wouldn't dream of treating our vet to such remarks or treatment. Our Vet nearly walks on water in our world. She has seen us through some good times and very hard times. Always with all she has and our complete trust and faith in her abilities. I think that like choosing your own physician you need to find the best in your opinion and build a relationship that leads to that trust. Without that how will you feel safe? Our dogs are family and we rely sometimes on our vet to help us make important decisions when emotions are high. I hope everyone can find that sort of relationship for the sake of their animals and their piece of mind. Find a practice where the staff stay, there is a happy positive atmosphere. That will often show you the character of the person at the top. I also think for me, I like it when my dog is the center of everyone's attention and not my comfort, coffee etc.

Marty D.
Martin D5 years ago

Clearly you are missing the point of most of us are trying to make. We would gladly pay for quality care, the problem we (as I have) have run into more greedy vet clinics insisting on testing for various things that are not needed, creating a bill for someone of over $600 when you bring in a cat that just is being lethargic, which is part of *my* story. How many co-workers have come in complaining they had to shell out 500 for a visit to the vet.
It has happened at 3 different clinics in my area to both myself and my daughter.
Let me just use one example, annual shots. I called a local Vet clinic to see how much it would be to bring the dogs shots up to date. Office visit = $89.00. Shots $159.00. So a total of $240.00 for a ten minute visit with the shots (7 in one or 5 in one) costing less than $10.00. (Check Tractor Supply's website for verification) Yeah we pay it but anyone can see it is a little over the top for profit wouldn't you say?
Please before responding as nasty as you just did, read the complaints the posters are posting, then post in a more civil tone.

Susan T.
Susan T5 years ago

At all the people who complain about the cost of vet care....try running a small business, employ people, pay the bills, deal with the rising cost of medications, supplies, electricity. new lab equipment, X-ray machines, health care for your employees....
rude clients, people who don't pay their bills, people who DUMP their pets and never pay for their care....
and the caring that a lot of clinic staff gives to stray, injured animals.
We all (the majority) care A LOT! It is a business. Employees need to be paid, the lights need to be kept on....go to a cheaper clinic.
If you want to go to the new "boutique" clinic with all the bells and whistles.....get pet insurance or expect to pay a few $$. Get an estimate ahead of treatment, most clinics do that but don't expect to pay not much for quality care.

Susan T.
Susan T5 years ago

Heard all these!
and more working in vet clinics for 15 years.....go to a low cost cheaper clinic. Or don't get a pet from a pet store. Or don't get a purebred before checking out all the health issues they may or WILL develop. Don't let you pet run loose,

Sorry but good quality Veterinary care performed but quality people costs $$$$$.

I have heard that I hate pets because a clinic I worked at would not do a fracture repair for free.....whatever.....I have had to pay a lot of money for some of my animals even working at a clinic.

Put up or Shut Up! Vet care is NOT FREE.

John Wesen
Past Member 5 years ago

Screw the Vet. Been ripped off with faulty diagnosis, never refunded. I don't give a crap what they consider whining. They are whining themselves, for even having a list.

Jeramie D.
Jeramie D5 years ago

Oops! If I don't leave right now one of my dogs will be late for his appointment. Thanks for the reminders.

Johnice Reid
Johnice R5 years ago

Grateful for my Vet of 12 years. Though I have a medical background and do not expect my pets to be carved from granite, they, like us, are individual mammals with unique physiologies and predispositions to behaviors and illnesses. This Vet would never be hired by my Vet's practice of 10 Vets, and I would not allow such a person to examine my dogs. Just me...

Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra5 years ago

Thank you Nicholas, for Sharing this!