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Ask a Vet: Respect your veterinarian

POSTED: July 20, 2014 1:00 a.m.

In her song, Aretha Franklin was explicit. Not in the parental warning kind of way, but in the honest and this-is-what-I-want way. She wanted respect. So she demanded it with a catchy tune.

I love Aretha. And if I had her voice, maybe I’d be more capable of demanding respect. But all I have is my words, a decade of college and a decade of practicing medicine and surgery.

So why, you might ask, do some clients just refuse to take my recommendations? I’d like to think it’s not because of my personality, but opinions vary.

Luckily for my pride, it happens to lots of veterinarians. It is unlucky for the pets, though.

If you have two individuals giving you different opinions, what makes you decide on one or the other? I have no idea in some cases.

I’ve had classmates lament online about clients refusing vaccines for their puppies because the breeder said they’re not needed. Or clients not spaying a cat because their neighbor says it’s bad for cats. Where did they go to vet school?

Even between two doctors, opinions on treatments will vary. But it is alarming to see expert recommendations discarded in favor of the word of an unknown individual blogging. Some online sources are experts. Many are not. Why don’t you find out before deciding?

A similar situation is present in many areas of life as well. Kevin Trudeau has made millions selling books about medical advice doctors allegedly don’t want you to know about. He’s also never had medical training of any kind, and he’s been repeatedly charged with crimes related to his recommendations.

When he was counting his millions, your veterinarian was learning the process of kidney filtration. Now who really cares if your cat lives to see Christmas?

Even some licensed veterinarians fall prey to the crackpot theories. I’ve seen one vet soaking dogs’ feet in a solution supposedly intended to reduce liver toxins. No part of the liver secretes toxins through the feet. If it sounds crazy, get a second opinion from an expert.

Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at


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