I am not a veterinarian

I take it as a compliment. People consult me all the time, especially about their cats and occasionally dogs, wondering if I can tell them what ails the critter in question. Or whether there is something they can give – holistic, herbal, OTC stuff, whatever – that will solve the problem they’ve self-diagnosed their pet with. (Bless Dr. Google.) I do know more than the average pet parent because of all my years of care for my own animals, for people’s pets, and with the trap-neuter-return program. But what I have learned repeatedly is this: I am not a vet. I’m not even  a vet-tech. And those folks are far more qualified to give advice when it comes to health issues for pets.


Don’t get me wrong. I’m as guilty as the next person of consulting Dr. Google. I’ve just learned to take that with a very large grain of salt. At best, I’m coming up with a guess, and I’m wrong as often as I’m right. Whenever I’m talking with a vet about a sick animal I try to make sure that they know that my Dr. Google search was just a starting place, that I’m not married to whatever I happened to find. Is that blood in the cat’s urine a urinary tract infection, a problem with the bladder or kidney, or maybe stones or crystals, or something else entirely? Beats me. That’s what the various blood/urine/x-rays are for, and only the vet can order and read them.

My best advice when your pet is sick: pay attention. That’s what I try to do best. That’s what your vet needs from you too. Is the animal acting differently than usual, and if so, how? What about the four biggies: are they eating, drinking, peeing, and pooping? Has anything changed about any of those four basics? Has anything changed in the pet’s environment recently that might be affecting the situation – new people, new food, people leaving, new pets, change of furniture, anything! Does the pet seem to hurt anywhere?

Don’t get me wrong. I am truly flattered when folks consult me about health issues, but I almost always start the conversation by saying I am not a vet!  I’m likely to ask the questions above, and suggest they share that info with their vet, who knows a whole hell of a lot more than I do.




11 thoughts on “I am not a veterinarian

  1. I’m sure there are a lot of veterinarians and vet techs out there who are thanking you for writing this!Seeing a vet regularly as well as when a pet is sick is essential to their health and welfare.

  2. Like you I get asked cat questions all the time. Sometimes I can be helpful…like some simple steps to stop a cat from inappropriate urinating (I am not a fan of covered litterboxes especially for multiple pets. Would you want to step into someone else’s pee or poop when you went to the potty?) and somethings I couldn’t even guess at. Just like us, pets can have a bad day, a bellyache, whatever and the question is always when to intercede. Even with 4 cats I can usually tell by size, diameter and color, which deposits belong to which cats. (Yes I need a life!) Some things totally freak me out…like bloody urine. I recently found the benefit of probiotics for a cat with explosive diarrhea and I’m willing to shout it from the rooftops because I went for years without knowing that. Sharing info is great as is Dr. Google but I am blessed to have a vet with talented techs who are willing to give me free advice over the phone. At the end of the day, I run anything holistic by them. Still, I like to hear experiences from other cat people. It sometimes help me to think outside the box. Good post.

    1. I think most good vets/vet techs will talk to you over the phone and provide advice and info if appropriate. And I am very glad when they know and tell me someone needs to be seen first too. A good vet is priceless.

  3. That is such great and important advice. My husband and I have learned the same over the 14.5 years we had our loving parrot. Unfortunately, however, my parrot passed last Saturday. We knew it was imminent. We took him to the vet, but it was clear the vet just wanted us to take him home and spend his last days with us, the ones he loved, in his last days.

    1. Oh, I’m so sorry to hear about your parrot. It is so hard to lose a loved one, even when you know it is coming. Doesn’t make anything any easier.

  4. When I’m concerned about one of my furry kids, I ask myself the same questions. Sometimes those answers will tell me to call the vet right away; other times they tell me to just observe for a day or two and then decide. But when my friends ask me about their dogs, I suggest talking to their vet.

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