Silliest Client Behavior Contest

Sometimes clients make silly mistakes that don't always end well for the pets. Dr. Phil Zeltzman shares his stories.


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Courtesy Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS

“Rubber band after bath:" Clients placed rubber bands on their dog’s ears, which caused necrosis.

I try really, really hard to remain politically correct in this blog. But I do have to share a few stories that portray some of the silliest client ideas and behaviors. Some were my clients. Some were my colleagues.’ All paid dearly for their mistakes, and so did their unfortunate pets.

1) The sister of one client thought it would be funny to play a practical joke. She covered a tampon with ketchup and mustard, and put it in a hotdog bun. Unfortunately, Poopster* the poodle, who had an especially ferocious appetite, got a hold of the hotdog before her owner and swallowed it within seconds.

He later had a gastrotomy to retrieve the foreign body.

2) A couple gave Sheba* the Shih Tzu a bath and thought it would be a good idea to put rubber bands on the dog’s ears. Strangely, the ears didn’t like this treatment and started to necrose (see picture). Sheba later had bilateral otectomies.

3) An Amish owner had a friend call his vet clinic to explain that his large breed dog was ADR. Our colleague asked him to bring his dog in. He eventually found a ride, and showed up at the clinic just before closing time. Try to picture an old arthritic Amish farmer stepping out of a bright red Corvette (the young Amish friend was allowed to drive during rumspringa, which is sort of a time for temporary freedom). They asked our colleague to examine the dog in the trunk since he was so heavy. A cursory exam revealed that the poor dog was dead.

4) Human-canine mismatches are not an uncommon occurrence. When an 80- or 90-year-old shows up with a 6-year-old Lab, going on 6 months, I am concerned when I perform a TPLO for example. I am concerned about the dog destroying my repair, but also about Grandma being pulled around and breaking a bone!

5) A client complained that Jug* the pug would always run away from her. “I really wonder why,” said her vet. Quizzing the owner gave the answer. The lady constantly tried to remove ticks from her dog’s ventral abdominal area. “I don’t understand. He always has six ticks on his belly, always in the same location, and he just never wants me to remove them.”

6) Coco* the collie puppy wasn’t doing well, said his owner. He was in one position when he went to work in the morning, and he was in the exact same position when he came back home that evening. Quizzing the owner revealed that Coco liked to chew on electric cords, which she owner thought was fine while he was teething. Coco never chewed on an electric cord after that fateful final day.

7) Let’s finish with the most bizarre foot-in-your-mouth story I just heard. A technician was giving an injection with premed drugs to my TPLO patient, a 6-year-old mastiff. She politely asked the owner if he would be OK with witnessing an injection. His (dead serious) response: “Oh, don’t worry about me, I’m not afraid of needles, I use heroin all the time.”

* All names have been changed to protect the patients’ privacy, but the stories are sadly real.

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