1. Before you ask: Yes, we have all put our hands up a cow’s bum.
Even if we go on to specialise in small animals, it’s part of our training. We do it for several reasons, and, yes, it does feel weird. Plus you can get injured if the cow moves suddenly, and there’s a pretty good chance you’ll get kicked. Fun times.
2. We often end up collecting animals.
Sometimes clients can’t keep an animal, or don’t come back to pick them up after surgery. It’s very tempting to take them home “for a while”, which is why a lot of vets end up with a random menagerie of one-eyed, three-legged pets.
3. We play pranks quite a lot to lighten the mood.
It’s quite hard to resist hiding a pair of recently-removed cat balls somewhere your colleague will least expect them. Like their favourite mug.
4. We get asked some really daft questions.
“Can you neuter my dog instead of spaying her? It’s cheaper!” Unless your female dog has testicles, then no. Spaying means removing a pet’s uterus. We often get asked “Do I need to bring my pet to the appointment?” as well. Er, yes.
5. We can’t really help having to charge fees, but we do try to keep them as fair as possible.
We know vet fees can be expensive, and we hate charging for what we do. If we could help animals for free every day we would, but have to pay our own bills.
6. Though we often charge less than we should, so you can afford the treatment your pet needs.
But we would never tell you that.
7. Putting down animals never, ever gets any easier.
We grieve for every animal we lose. Of course they weren’t part of our family, but often we’ve got to know your pet (and you), so losing them hurts us too.
8. We try very hard not to let it show, though.
Our most important job is looking after you and your pets, and that means a stiff upper lip. It won’t make you feel any better if we start sobbing, although it’s sometimes hard to avoid getting a bit teary-eyed. We’re only human, after all.
9. Parts of our job make us question our career choices.
Dog owners, you should know that anal gland smell makes us gag too. We’ve just had a lot more practice at pretending it doesn’t. Pity us: You can leave; we have to make do with air freshener.
10. And we get bitten and scratched all the damn time.
When we take your squirming pet to the back room for a blood test or to check its teeth, we know we’re likely to end up with a chunk out of us. We’re used to it, but it isn’t exactly fun, and sometimes we feel we’re taking our lives in our hands.
11. We know when you’re bending the truth.
It’s obvious that growth didn’t appear overnight, or that your dog’s toothbrush came out from the back of the cupboard for the first time a couple of days before his booster appointment. We’re not daft.
12. But we also try really hard not to judge you.
We understand that your life is busy; so is ours. Just be honest about your time constraints or difficulties and we’ll try our best to work around them.
13. It helps that we’re not perfect either.
You should do as we say, not as we do. Most of us have forgotten to change our pet’s water, or update their microchip details. Again, we’re only human.
14. We do get angry when we see obese pets though.
Feeding your pet until it is overweight is NOT love. If we had a pound for every owner who told us that if they stopped the treats their pet would think they weren’t loved, we’d be able to stop charging fees altogether.
15. And sometimes an owner will really shock us.
We’re often asked to put down healthy pets because the owners are going on holiday, although they often lie to hide the true reason. There’s a difference between euthanasia to end suffering, and killing. We don’t do the latter.
16. We’re never really off duty.
Even when we go home, we still sit worrying about our cases and researching them online. And that’s when we’re not on call with our phones next to our ears.
17. And we can, and do, report owners to the RSPCA.
Just like a GP, we’re bound by client confidentiality rules, but if we see you’re neglecting your pet we’re allowed to break those rules to protect the animal.
18. Sometimes our clients tell us things that go way beyond our normal remit.
19. Some of the things you do make us laugh uncontrollably.
Accidentally showing up (or leaving) without your pet is definitely one of them. So is bringing a pet carrier, but forgetting the animal that should be inside it. Guys.
20. And other things are just plain weird.
Going into the consultation room, putting your pet on the table, and then leaving isn’t helpful. They can’t tell us what’s wrong; we need to talk to an actual human.
21. In short, our jobs are busy, tiring, emotional roller coasters.
A typical day for a vet is nonstop, emotionally draining work fuelled by coffee and (if we’re very lucky) a quick biscuit. We celebrate the days when we get 10 minutes to sit down and eat a sandwich, or cook a proper meal for dinner.
22. But, at the end of the day, your gratitude keeps us going.
Helping an animal through an illness and seeing it living life to the full with you afterwards is the best feeling in the world. Knowing you appreciate it is even better: It’s what makes all those 14-hour days (and weird questions) bearable.