Owner Compliance in the Field of Veterinary Medicine
By Stephen Campbell
Owner compliance is by far one of the most instrumental part in the treatment plan of any patient when it comes to veterinary medicine. As members of the veterinary profession, we strive to provide the most up to date and influential medical practices to best suit both you and your companion animal. After all, why wouldn’t we? Today’s veterinarians spend a minimum of 8 years to earn their degree, all while spending countless hours studying multiple species, up to the point of even foregoing relationships with friends and families. They undergo all this for a career that has some of the most unstable and long hours, is ranked one of the most stressful professions, and still pays the least of any professional medical profession.
So you might ask, why would anybody put themselves through so many hardships for such a demanding career? The answer is actually simpler than you might expect. The reality is, veterinary professionals do it because they love your companion animal, whether that special someone be a dog, cat, sheep, horse, goat, ferret, pig, parrot, or even a cow. We understand how much you love the animals you care for, because like you, we also have the same loved ones at home. And like you, we especially have been there when that special companion was sick. We, all too well, know the frustration and worry you feel during these hard times, and just like you, we also feel the pain of watching that loved one suffer. That worry, that doubt, that love, that desire to do absolutely anything you can to give your loved one the best quality of life possible is the exact reason why we choose this profession. Being a veterinarian is more than just a career for us, it’s a lifestyle. It’s what we were put on this earth to do, and no veterinarian I know would ever think about doing anything else.
With that being said, the attempt of this article is to shed light on a very delicate topic in veterinary medicine; the topic of which is owner compliance. I started this article with the statement, “owner compliance is by far the most instrumental part in the treatment of any patient.” But why is that so? Let’s take a moment to break this statement down, and discuss various components that I believe attribute to owner compliance.
Communication: This is absolutely the most crucial part of the veterinary visit. Anti-emetics, nuclear sclerosis, gingival hyperplasia, proper limb proprioception, cranial nerve deficits; these are all words and phrases even I had trouble understanding, or knew little to nothing about a few short years ago. I’m sure you don’t either, and that’s totally fine! Veterinarians know that you’re not an experienced neurologist, ophthalmologist, parasitologist, etc, but a lot of times we get so caught up in all the different medical jargon that we forget to explain things in “common sense” people terms. I, for one, would like to be the first to apologize for that. So if this ever happens to you, please don’t be afraid to ask for a further explanation. After all, veterinary medicine terminology and physiology is exciting to us, so believe it or not, most veterinarians are teachers at heart and would love to spend that extra time needed to explain things.
Improperly treating: Studies show that almost half of veterinary prescribed medications and treatments are carried out correctly or not at all. Not following the veterinarian’s orders can have a detrimental effect on the outcome of your loved one. Not only that, but this can lead to more serious complications such as prolonged treatment times and repeat visits, which will eventually add to increased treatment cost. And nobody likes spending more at the veterinary visit, not even us. We, as veterinarians, strive to provide the most cost-effective medications and treatments because we know that being cost conscious leads to more happy, loving pets.
Dr. Google: A 2011 article posted in dvm360 magazine stated that 75% of pet owners looked to the internet for medical guidance before bringing their pet in to see the veterinarian; and honestly, I can see why. We as a society have become so involved with the internet that we practically use it for everything. It’s around us everywhere we look, literally at our very fingertips. So why wouldn’t we use it if our pet is sick? We want to know the reason our pet is not feeling good, and what we can do to treat it. The only problem is that more times than not, this information is either dead wrong, or partially correct. Each and every case that the veterinary community sees is different, so treatment plans must be individually tailored to fit your pet’s specific needs. If you have a pet-related question, please call a veterinarian before giving your pet any medication; or better yet, make an appointment to have your pet examined. Professional advice holds way more weight than any advice published by non-veterinary parties on the internet.
All in all, we only seek to provide the best care and advice for both you and your pet. Whether it is making your dog wear that silly E-collar to keep from scratching himself, constantly reminding you to be sure to never forget to administer their monthly tick, flea and heartworm medications, or recommending routine dentals, it’s only because we truly care and want the best healthcare for your pet. After all, veterinary services like the ones mentioned lead to longer, healthier lives for the pets that we love.
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