Vet’s Emotional Challenges of Caring for Our Pets


On the Bad Days, I Go Home and Snuggle My Pets’: Talks with Vets About the Emotional Challenges of Caring for Our Pets

Many animal lovers dreamed at one point or another of becoming a veterinarian — I know I did! But being a vet is so much more than being surrounded by adorable animals all day.

As Dr. Monica Dijanic of Beaver Brook Animal Hospital in Connecticut pointed out, “Unfortunately, the dark side of veterinary medicine is that we suffer greatly from compassion fatigue.”

Veterinary medicine has its share of emotional tolls, and vets must find ways to cope so they don’t become overwhelmed by the stressful demands of the career.

We learned a lot about the emotional challenges of being a veterinarian while interviewing animal experts for our new feature, True Stories: Veterinarians Share Inspiring Tales of Overcoming Career Challenges. What they shared with us was eye-opening — and made us appreciate and admire the work they do even more!

Finances are often an obstacle

“Being a veterinarian can be emotionally challenging,” admitted Dr. Mary Gardner of Lap of Love, which has vets in multiple states. “Many people think we deal with puppies and kittens and fix sick animals all day.”

But providing animals the care they need to heal or stay healthy can be costly — and unfortunately, pet parents can’t always afford the treatment their pets need.

“Finances often interfere with proper care, and this leads to many veterinarians feeling helpless and depressed,” Dr. Gardner said.

Dr. Lisa Aumiller of HousePaws Mobile Veterinary Service in New Jersey and Pennsylvania has witnessed many occasions when her patients’ humans couldn’t afford the care their pets needed — so she took action.

“One of our clients and several of our staff members started our non-profit, the Boo Tiki Fund,” Dr. Aumiller explained. “Our clients and staff help fundraise for this great fund, which helps clients when they can’t afford the medical care that their pet needs.”

Sadly, money often presents a hurdle for pet owners trying to afford the health care their pets require. And although vets work with their clients as best they can, limited budgets frequently cause frustrating circumstances not just for pet parents, but for vets too.

Vets sometimes have to honor distressing requests

Dr. Jessica Waldman of California Animal Rehabilitation recalled an incident that moved her deeply, and is a difficult situation that many vets are faced with.

“I once had a walk-in appointment for a euthanasia of a German shepherd that wasn’t able to walk due to hip dysplasia,” she remembered. “I was crushed that I was going to put this pup to sleep due to a condition I thought was manageable and the situation possibly preventable. I asked the vet who owned the practice if I could refuse, and he rightfully told me that this was what the client wanted, and the owner wouldn’t be able to adequately care for the pet. I performed the euthanasia with tears.”

Dr. Waldman decided to do something positive with this difficult experience, and it changed the course of her career.

“I thought then and still think that pets should pass from sickness, complicated disease, or cancers, but not from physical disabilities,” she explained. “This experience pushed me to follow my passion to become certified in acupuncture and rehabilitation, and I opened the first veterinary rehabilitation clinic in Los Angeles. I wanted to prolong pets’ lives. I wanted to take away their pain. And I wanted to prevent life-ending outcomes that are actually preventable.”

While Dr. Waldman forged a remarkable career path that offers pets a second chance, this is a heartbreaking position that many vets are often placed in.

Vets take care of animals and humans

Dr. Caroline Rehm Hassell of Rehm Animal Clinic in Alabama learned an important lesson about how vets aren’t only responsible for the pets they treat — they’re also responsible for the emotional well-being of their human companions.

On her first day as a vet, Dr. Rehm Hassell was so excited to correctly diagnose her first patient, Macy, that she forgot about how devastating the news that Macy had cancer would be for her mom.

“I was concerned about Macy’s illness but satisfied that I had determined a diagnosis,” she told us. “I went back into the exam room and announced proudly that Macy had a mast cell tumor. Macy’s mom was devastated — she began crying and was shocked. I quickly realized how insensitive I was as I delivered the news that Macy had cancer.”

She immediately took action to be more empathetic.

“I was able to schedule Macy for a biopsy, and handled the rest of her care with compassion and sensitivity to both Macy and her mom.”

She practices this compassion with every patient she treats. “As veterinarians, we treat pets because we love them,” she confessed. “It’s easy to feel compassion for dogs and cats because they are so wonderful, but being a veterinarian means also being there for their human counterparts.”

While a vet’s biggest job is taking care of animals’ welfare, sometimes, their most important role is being a source of emotional support to pet parents.

Ultimately, the positives outweigh the negatives for these devoted doctors

As with any profession, being a vet certainly has its share of difficult days. But despite the challenges, the vets we spoke with wouldn’t choose any other career.

As Dr. Dijanic told us, “Even on the bad days, I go home and snuggle my pets, grab a book, have a glass of wine, and remember that most days as a vet are wonderful.”

If you’re interested in working closely with animals in a fun and stress-free way, pet sitting with is a wonderful way to get your fix!

Kelly Wright explores and celebrates the magical and mysterious bond between pets and people for’s Animal Heroes section. If you have an amazing story about how an animal has brought joy and wonder to your life, please email her at

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Dog Food with Toxic Ingredients?

Dog_food_ingredientsDo we feed dog food with toxic ingredients? Can it be that a dog food we all know very well from TV ads, that the manufacturer claims it is healthy, all natural and whole grains,  is in fact toxic?

You’ll have to decide. I don’t have the tools and the knowledge to determine if it is true or false.
On the consumer affair website you’ll find 1714 letters from dog owners claiming Beneful® Nestle Purina’s caused side affects and even killed their dog.  Some examples:

“started throwing up and had terrible diarrhea ”

“Exactly 7 days from start of mixing this food my poor German shepherd who was perfectly healthy died in my arms. ”

“I switched to Beneful dry dog food last spring thinking the commercials were right. I was under the assumption the food was good for dogs. My dog ended up with severe skin allergies and open sores due to the food. I had to take her to the vet’s office 3 different times and spent a bucket load of money on prescriptions. As soon as I took her off any Purina foods, she cleared up.”

You can read all complaints on the consumer affairs site

The issue i do have with the consumer affairs is that while i was on the site reading the Nestle Purina’s Beneful® consumer letters, a pop-up advertising other company’s dog food. In my book that is the last place i expect to see ads, and i ask myself (and you), is it ethical?

The FDA did investigate the food and the three factories where the food manufactured in the USA.  No action taken.

You can read FDA final report from 2013

What you can take from all of the above? 
WE should not be influenced by ads only. 
We need to check and investigate our-self. Read labels and understand the ingredients and the order they are mentioned. As they say, if any ingredient name is too long that you cannot pronounce it, it shouldn't be there. Move on to the the next food. If meat or fish is not at the top of the list, move on to the next food, and so on. 
After all, all we want is a happy and healthy 4-legged baby at home.

**The facts in this article wasn’t checked by me. I am only reporting from the consumer affairs site and the FDA site

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Practice Fire Safety Basics for Pets

Practice Fire Safety Basics for Pets with On Door Note

This article created in recognition of  National Pet Fire Safety Day, (July 15th 2016) Learn some fire safety basic for pets.

let’s take a look at a few simple tips that can both prevent fires and help in case of an actual emergency. A home fire is a traumatic event, and the thought of losing a beloved pet makes it all the more terrifying. Unfortunately, more than 40,000 pets die in fires each year, and well over 500,000 are impacted in some way. Some fires are even caused by pet-related accidents, which makes it all the more important to understand how to prevent fire and how to keep your pets safe in the event of an emergency. 

Be Alarmed

In the event of a fire, every second counts. The early warning provided by well-placed smoke detectors can make a critical difference, allowing you to locate your pets and get to safety. Carbon monoxide detectors are also recommended. For added protection, consider investing in a monitored alarm system, which can alert the proper authorities quickly even when you’re not home. Some services will also notify respondents if a pet is in the house. Or attach a note to you entrance and windows, alerting rescuers that you have pets in house. Mention type and numbers of each animal. (See image above)

Plan It Out

Just as you would for your family, you also need to make plans for how to evacuate your pets in the event of a fire. Determine in advance who will be responsible for each pet and designate a safe location at which everyone should meet. Since they are likely to be startled by the commotion, pets should be evacuated using a leash or carrier if at all possible. To make the process easier, keep collars, leashes and anything else you may need in a single location that is convenient and easy to access.

Tag and Chip Your Pets

Unfortunately, your pet may still escape during a fire despite your best efforts. If your pet does make a break for it, they’re likely to run a considerable distance and may not be easy to find. In order to increase the odds that they’ll be returned to you, be sure that your furry friend is properly tagged and implanted with a microchip. These simple steps will save a lot of trouble by making it much easier to identify your pet.

It’s All in the Preparation

If you’re planning to leave your home for any length of time, a little preparation can go a long way. Begin by keeping your pets near an entrance, where they are more likely to be found and rescued in the event of a fire. Keep Pet carriers and leashes nearby, and if you use a dog kennel, check to ensure that it’s easily opened. Additionally, affixing pet alert window clings to highly visible windows is an excellent way to notify respondents that there are pets inside.

Pet Proof Your Home

While preparing and developing safety plans is critically important, it’s only one side of the equation. It’s also important to practice fire prevention, and that begins by taking a few simple pet-proofing steps. Never use candles or other open flames in the presence of an unrestrained pet, and extinguish any flames before leaving the room. Turn off any space heaters or other potential ignition sources if you’re leaving the house, and keep pets away from them while you’re home. Most importantly, remove your stove’s knobs before you leave the house. A significant number of pet-related house fires occur as a result of pets accidentally turning on a cooktop, and removing the knobs makes this much less likely.

Fire is a destructive and potentially deadly hazard to both you and your pets, but there are many things you can do to mitigate the risk. It’s easy to access additional helpful online resources with even more pet safety information, and the ASPCA website offers free Pet Safety Pack for all families with animals. National Pet Fire Safety Day is an excellent occasion to review your own safety plan and learn new ways to protect your pets, so this July 15, spend a few minutes making sure that everyone in your family is protected from fire – whether they walk on two legs or four.

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