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What to do if you are unhappy with veterinary treatment

Sometimes people feel unhappy or dissatisfied with some aspect of the veterinary care which their pet is receiving. In this situation it is incredibly important that you make your feelings known since communication is the key to sorting out these problems.

There are many unforeseen events and problems that may arise in veterinary medicine and occasionally you may feel worried or upset about some aspects of veterinary care. Vets do take extreme care when providing treatment for your pets and we do our best to keep their owners happy too. However it is an unfortunate fact that sometimes mistakes will be made, or treatments will not go as planned. It is not at all unknown for vets to go home worrying about a particular case and wondering if they have done everything right for a particular animal. This is because medicine is an art as well as a science and each individual case will require individually tailored treatment and sometimes through no fault of our own things do not go as well as expected. It is natural that owners sometimes feel worried too.

Of course there may sometimes be more serious problems which are of concern, but I do believe that the vast majority of vets care very much about your pets and are always endeavouring to do their absolute best for you and your animals.

In veterinary practice the main complaints seem to be about treatments which go wrong or were ineffective or the cost of treatments. In the vast majority of cases the problem is caused by a breakdown of communication between vet and client. (Or sometimes unfortunately between vets and colleagues or nursing staff).

If you feel that treatments are not going well or you are concerned about the cost of treatment, or have any other complaint, make sure you communicate this dissatisfaction early. When you complain try to be very clear about your reason for dissatisfaction. For example it is much clearer to say that you felt a vet didn't explain a procedure well enough, rather than just to say that you did not like that vet.

Initially try to speak to the actual veterinary surgeon concerned. You will most likely find that any vet will work very hard to put any mistakes right or to allay your fears and explain things better if they believe that things are still going to plan. In some cases if the vet believes that treatments are going to plan but you are still concerned, you might be able to see another vet, either in the same or another practice for a second opinion if you wish. Do not hesitate to ask for a second opinion if you feel you need one. Most vets would much rather that you sought out another opinion on the case rather than take the complaint any further, so do try this route if you would feel better by doing this.

If this does not work and you are still unhappy talk to the senior partner of the practice. This will often result in a resolution of the problem. If however you are still not satisfied that enough has been done you may register an official complaint with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. They have a duty to investigate any complaints and ensure that veterinary surgeons abide by a code of professional conduct.

Of course it is much better if you do not ever have any problems with your veterinary surgeon, so do always try to keep the lines of communication open and discuss any worries sooner rather than later so that they do not escalate into a complaint.

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All Rights Reserved | Content is provided for information only. All content on is protected by copyright and therefore may not be copied without specific written permission from the author. Disclaimer: The content of this website is based upon the opinions of Samantha Coe, unless otherwise stated. Individual articles, extracts, and any links to external sites are based upon the opinions of the respective author(s), who may retain copyright. The information on this website is not intended to replace a consultation with a qualified veterinary professional and is not intended as medical advice. The purpose of this site is the sharing of knowledge and information - Samantha Coe encourages you to make informed healthcare decisions for animals in your care based upon your research and in consultation with your vet.