How to Cope If Your Veterinarian Lacks People Skills

Sick dog

I love my dogs’ and cats’ veterinarian. I foresee us being a team for many years to come. However, in the past I have dealt with doctors with less-than-stellar dispositions. Other doctors I’ve felt I could hang out and have beers with.

With our last cat, our vet at the time always treated us with warmth. She spoke with understanding and never judgement. She counseled us on treatments, assuaged our fears, and cried with us when we euthanized our babe.

Another vet was rough at best. She was short and insensitive to our fears. Although she performed well as a doctor, it was difficult to deal with her personality. Because of this, we had to make a decision about whether to stick with her or find another.

So when it comes to situations like these, how do you decide what to do?

First, remember that this is about your pet’s health. Don’t switch vets just because your vet doesn’t hold your hand or because personalities clash. Rudeness is annoying and uncalled for, but it does not equal shoddy care.

Consider these questions:

Is Your Veterinarian a Good Practitioner?

Good veterinarians have confidence and competency, even if dealing with people isn’t their forte. Several signs show your vet is doing a good job despite a lack of people skills.

S/He should always take time to examine your pet. Even when giving routine vaccines, they’ll look at eyes, ears, and teeth at the least. A good vet will also listen to your concerns and respond to them without blowing them off.

A good vet doesn’t just treat symptoms, but also looks for the underlying cause. This may mean tests, alternative treatments, and referrals to specialists.

If your vet waves off your concerns without explanation, isn’t interested in hearing them, or can’t answer your questions, find another caregiver for your pet. But if s/he is doing all the right things, for the sake of your pet try your best to stick it out.

Does Your Veterinarian Care for Your Pet?

Most vets care for the animals they treat. They strive to do their job well while making pets as comfortable as possible in what can be scary situations. Good vets want your pet healthy with the least amount of trauma as much as you want it. Good vets don’t let feelings about people compromise the level of care they provide pets.

In the end, vets are humans. Some are introverts. Some are terrible conversationalists. Some are arrogant. Some are gruff without meaning to be. And some, like us all, occasionally let their bad days show. Some vets don’t have open, glistening personalities. It doesn’t mean they aren’t damn good at their jobs.

 Tips

  • If you don’t feel like your vet is volunteering enough information, ask questions. Some need a little prompting.
  • Watch how your vet interacts with your pet. True concern and compassion are difficult to hide.
  • Don’t ignore your intuition. If you witness or suspect poor care from your vet, speak up, get a second opinion, or find a different vet.
  • Don’t put up with abuse. There’s a big, fat line between curtness and downright meanness.
  • Find a vet before you need one. This way, you aren’t forced at the last minute to accept a relationship you aren’t comfortable with.

Veterinarians are heroes. They’re caregivers and lifesavers. But they’re also human beings with varying personalities. If your vet loves your pet and provides great care, don’t give up on them based on attitude alone.

Based on my experiences, and in speaking with others, I find there are more vets with the whole package (professionalism, competency, and people skills) than there are without. Try to hang; but if you can’t don’t feel bad about seeking out someone else for you and your pet.