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Do You Trust Your Vet? The Irreverent Vet Speaks Out

By: The Irreverent Veterinarian

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What should you do if you don't trust your vet or feel you are being taken advantage of?

It's a fair question. I was talking to my friends at PetPlace about this, and they asked me to write an article on the subject.

First, let me introduce myself for those of you that don't know me. I'm the Irreverent Veterinarian. I speak my mind and give you my honest opinion. I won't sweet-talk you or sugarcoat the truth. I tell it like it is – to you, the drug companies, the pet product manufacturers, professional breeders and pet owners. Some might say that I'm truthful to a fault. Some of the pet owners and breeders who read my columns get really angry. It is hard hearing the truth.
So, this is what happened. Recently, my friend told me this story about his car.

The other day I took my car to the shop for an oil change. I like cars but I don't know enough about them to do my own repairs and oil changes. Anyway, the mechanic told me that I needed a fuel additive – that is an additional $12.95. They said my air filter should be changed – that cost $29.99. They wanted to upgrade my oil from the regular to the synthetic (an additional $49.99). And they said it would be a good idea to change the transmission fluid. So a simple $29.99 oil change was now going to cost me nearly $200!

Since my friend didn't know enough about cars to know whether or not he REALLY needed these things, how does he know if they were really telling him the truth (or if they were just trying to get more money out of him)? The reason I'm telling you this story is because it made my friend feel vulnerable. I've been in similar situations, so I understand how he felt. He didn't know whether he needed these things or not so the situation made him uneasy. If they were simply taking advantage of him, how would he know?

My friend's wife said that she feels the say way when she takes her dog to the vet. She said, "I want to do the right thing, but I don't know if my dog really needs all these things or not ... and it could cost hundreds of dollars."

Wow – that is something I had not really thought much about. But she makes a good point.

I always try to do the best for my patients and recommend what is truly needed. I try to treat every dog as if it were my own – and recommend what I would do for my own pet.

In addition, I generally give my clients options. Not everyone can afford the best or ideal treatment plan. I generally give options for the ideal diagnostic and therapeutic approach and another option that is not quite ideal but reasonable (and less expensive).

What if you feel you cannot trust your vet to do the right thing?

My advice is that you ultimately you do need to trust your veterinarian. Consider why you are feeling uneasy. Is it because your veterinarian is telling you something that is difficult to hear (something they recommend but you can not afford)? Or, is it because your vet does not listen to you?

My Final Thoughts on Trusting Your Veterinarian

It is hard to compare a veterinary service to an oil change but you need to trust your mechanic. If you don't trust him – you need to get a different mechanic.

You also need to trust your veterinarian. I think the best thing you can do is to keep an open dialogue of communication. If you have a question – ask. If you don't get an answer you are comfortable with – consider getting a different veterinarian.

Word of mouth is a great way to find a veterinarian. Ask your friends or neighbors that take great care of their pets for a recommendation.

You should be able to have open communication with your vet – that is part of the trust. If you don't feel you have that, find a different vet that you can personally connect with – someone who makes you fee comfortable.


The Irreverent Vet is a columnist that regularly contributes to The goal is to add a balanced and alternative view of some controversial pet issues. As happens with all of us, veterinarians can't always say what they really think without offending some clients. This commentary allows vets to say what they think and give you, the pet owner, the opportunity to consider another point of view. All opinions are those of the Irreverent Vet and not the views of and are not endorsed by

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