Some veterinarians’ bedside manner leaves a bit to be desired


Q: I had to take my cat to a specialist for a complicated condition, and both of the veterinarians I saw were really harsh and mean to me. I thought veterinarians were really nice people. Is this changing?

A: While it’s true that some of my colleagues' delivery leaves much to be desired, we veterinarians can’t always be all things to all people. We have to be smart, educated, accomplished and skilled in lots of areas. That’s a lot to juggle. We can’t always be personable, too.

Is it fair for clients to demand the whole package? On every visit? That’s not always going to happen. In fact, it almost always won’t. Vets are people, too, right?

From lots of first-hand experience, I can tell you that it’s really hard for us veterinarians to keep it together 100 percent of the time. What’s more, some of the best veterinarians I know, clinically speaking, don’t always handle clients really well. They can even seem “harsh” and “mean” when they’re having a bad day.

Sometimes I think that’s why some veterinarians go into specialized medicine. Some prefer a more academic, scientific path with less pet owner face-time. Others want to take on more challenging cases that require more patient-specific interaction. Many don’t usually like spending as much time as generalists do on easing your mind and making sure you’re satisfied.

In fact, in many cases they’re well aware they don’t have the patience or the skills for the human side of their practice.

But does that mean they can’t do what needs to be done to treat your pet better than anyone else out there? Absolutely not. Nevertheless, there’s a limit to how out-of-touch with their human clients’ veterinarians can be before it erodes their overall efficacy.

What’s a pet owner to do when faced with what looks like a rough case of the beside manner blues? Here’s my recommendation the next time you see a new veterinarian –– specialist, generalist or otherwise: Assuming you trust the person who referred you (or your own ability to conduct research), take the time to get past any uncomfortable “attitude” so you can dispassionately ask yourself: Is this pet healthcare provider’s questionable bedside manner worth it?

Dr. Patty Khuly has a veterinary practice at Sunset Animal Clinic in South Miami. Her website is Send questions to