I’ve been taking care of a dog who has severe allergies for the past couple years. I mean, severe. He is miserably itchy and develops intense infections that cover his entire body and face. When I walked into the exam room to meet him for the first time years ago, he was mostly hairless, smelled of infection, and was honestly just miserable from constantly itching.
This client loved her dog. She felt terrible for how much her dog was suffering from his allergies and infections. And from the very first appointment, she did every single thing I told her to do to make him better. Every single thing without question. We ran blood work on him, we treated his infections for months, and she came in for his recheck appointments which often were every two to three weeks for months on end. She was so compliant that she even bathed her 60lb dog every single day when I asked her to and she started making her own dog food, which is a big task for a large dog. She is not a wealthy person and she didn’t have a lot of extra time, but she wanted her dog to feel better.
This pup greatly improved and now has a great coat and his itch is under control. He no longer smells and his quality of life is great. He recently had a flareup of his allergies and developed an ear infection. We treated his ears and when he came in for his followup appointment to make sure his infection was gone, the owner thanked me for never judging her. I have to be honest, I was a little taken aback from this comment. So I asked her what she meant by it. She said she had been to many vets for her dog’s skin issues. And she felt like other veterinarians would make the assumption that she wouldn’t take the necessary actions to make her dog better, strictly because of how bad her dog looked, smelled etc. And I was the first vet to not judge and to actually help her.
Now I am not perfect and I have to be honest, I have probably judged clients in the past. But this job always has ways to put you in your place when you think you have finally figured everything out! And I have seen clients that truly go without food so they can pay for their cat’s echocardiogram and I have seen seemingly wealthy clients forego testing on their pets. And its okay! We all are doing our best! Us veterinarians can do better and we as a society can do better. Mother Teresa put it perfectly when she said, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” We can be quick to judge but it takes time to get to know people and better understand the situation. So let’s spread the love out there and show kindness to all!
Dr. Carrie Uehlein DVM