You Can’t Hold Your Own Pet During Veterinarian’s Treatment

A reader writes “Dr. Randolph, when I take my kitty to see his doctor I like to hold him myself, but my veterinarian won’t let me. Is that standard practice everywhere?”

Indeed, it is.

I was in my 20s when I made the decision to become a veterinarian. When I told my Uncle Sam, he told his dairy-farming brothers and they loved to tell stories about veterinarians they had known over the years.

One day many, many years ago the three of them were in Philadelphia, MS. They had taken a horse there for treatment by a veterinarian who had a reputation for being able to handle the illness from which this horse suffered. While they were there a funny thing happened.

At least, they thought it was funny.

A preacher came in with his cat, ailing from a cat bite abscess. The old doctor asked the preacher to hold his cat still while he lanced the wound. About the time the scalpel went in, the claws came out and the kitty sank her teeth into the preacher.

“HA!” they would chortle. “That cat bit the pastor on his right hand! Hurt so bad it made the reverend say an ugly word!”

If I heard that story once I heard it 400 times. That was but one of the many stories they loved to tease me with so as to let me know what I was getting into when I began to practice veterinary medicine.

The Philadelphia event probably happened before I was born and before America became so safety-conscious, practical and litigious.

Now we have trained assistants and registered veterinary technicians who know how to hold pets with only a minimal chance of becoming injured. (We also have safe sedatives and anesthetics to not only control patients but to prevent them having pain during treatment.)

If someone might be injured by a patient we would rather it be us than you.

As mentioned in our article on cat bite abscesses, these infections can be really mean, and that goes for bitten people as well as pets.

Just as your auto-repair shop has a sign that says, “Our insurance regulations require that you remain in the waiting area for your safety,” veterinarians’ insurance companies take a dim view of us putting clients in harm’s way by holding their own pets.

You might not think your own pet will bite you.

Take it from someone who has been bitten by his own pets and has 30 years of experience hearing of pet owners bitten by their own pets, it happens all the time.

See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.

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