Veterinary professionals are dedicated to caring for pets and they are your essential partners in ensuring your furry pal’s health and wellbeing throughout their life. Despite experiencing rewarding moments during which they improve or save a pet’s life and the satisfaction they glean from educating owners on their pet’s care, these animal health care providers face unique challenges that can significantly impact their mental health. To show support for your veterinary team, you need to understand the issues confronting the veterinary profession. Our Dove Mountain Veterinary team explains veterinary professionals’ mental health challenges and how you can show your veterinarian and their colleagues emotional support. 

Challenges in the veterinary profession

While every profession poses challenges and can be stressful and demanding, veterinary professionals are continuing to see record-high caseload numbers, which take a heavy emotional toll. Veterinary professionals also face these common challenges:

  • Staffing shortages — Veterinarians and credentialed veterinary technicians are leaving the profession more quickly than new graduates can be trained. In addition, noncredentialed support staff positions also often remain vacant, leaving many veterinary clinics with an insufficient number of staff members and an overpacked appointment schedule.
  • Emotional fatigue — Veterinary professionals often find themselves dealing with emotional situations such as patients who have terminal illnesses and euthanasia procedures. Veterinary professionals also have to bear the emotional burden when a client is unable to afford necessary treatments for their pet, which can place limitations on care. This emotional fatigue can accumulate over time, and the constant exposure to sorrow often weighs heavily on veterinary professionals’ mental health.
  • Work-life imbalance — Many veterinary professionals work long hours and weekends, and are always on call. Therefore, they often experience an imbalance between their work and personal lives, which can detrimentally affect their mental health.
  • High-stress situations — The responsibility for a pet’s life is enormous and can be mentally draining, particularly in high-stress situations. Emergency cases, complicated surgeries, and the unpredictability associated with animal behavior all add to veterinary professionals’ stress levels.
  • Client expectations — Some pet owners have unrealistic expectations and may take out their frustrations on veterinary staff. These confrontations can be emotionally damaging, contributing to increased stress and burnout.

How pet owners can support veterinary mental health 

Small gestures and shows of support can do a world of good for a veterinary professional’s mental and emotional health. You can help support your veterinarian and their team members by doing the following:

  • Be Informed and realistic — Understanding veterinary medicine’s limitations and the costs associated with your pet’s care can help manage your expectations. Being informed also means respecting veterinary professionals’ expertise and following their instructions closely. 
  • Show kindness and empathy — A simple thank you or encouraging word goes a long way. Veterinary professionals put their heart and soul into their work and appreciate positive feedback. Acknowledge their efforts and be empathetic to the emotional toll their job takes.
  • Make financial preparations — Being financially prepared for your pet’s routine and unexpected medical needs not only benefits you and your furry pal but also eases the burden on the veterinary staff. Consider pet insurance or a pet healthcare fund to avoid the distress associated with having to make a financial decision if your pet needs emergency care. 
  • Stick to appointments and be prompt — Time management is crucial in a veterinary practice where emergency cases can arrive at any moment. No-shows and last-minute cancellations both disrupt the workflow and could potentially deprive another pet of timely medical attention. If you must cancel, do so as early as possible. Being punctual and sticking to your appointment time helps your veterinary clinic’s smooth functioning, reducing stress for everyone involved.
  • Communicate openly — You know your pet best, and clear, honest communication is essential to help them get care appropriate to their condition. Be open and honest about your pet’s history and your concerns. Accurate information is vital for correct diagnosis and treatment. Likewise, listen carefully to the advice and instructions your veterinary professionals provide.
  • Socialize and train your pet —  While a veterinary visit can be stressful for any pet, a well-adjusted, socialized pet typically experiences less anxiety and is easier for veterinary professionals to examine. Socialize and train your pet from an early age to make veterinary visits smoother for everyone involved.

  • Use social media responsibly — Before posting negative comments or reviews, consider the impact your words can have on the mental health of the veterinary professionals involved. If you have concerns about your experience, address them directly with the practice to try to resolve the situation before badmouthing the veterinary professionals who have been providing care for your pet.

Veterinary professionals work tirelessly to provide the best care for pets’ health. When you demonstrate understanding and acknowledge the challenges they face, you help ensure your veterinary clinic’s team members know you have their back while they care for your pet’s wellbeing. After all, the quality of your pet’s health care depends on their care providers’ mental health. To schedule your pet’s annual wellness exam, or if you are concerned about changes in their behavior, contact our Dove Mountain Veterinary team. Thank you in advance for your kindness and respect.