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When We’re Stressed, Vets Are There for Us: How to Give Back

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Reading Time: 3 minutes Thank-you notes, gift cards, and flowers are just a few of the ways you can show appreciation for your veterinarian.

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Having a sick pet is scary. Your cat won’t eat, or your dog is limping. Your puppy has been throwing up, or your kitten has runny eyes and a snotty nose. Whatever it is that has sidelined your pet from his normal happy life can be enough to send your stress level over the top.

At moments like these, only one person can really help you and your pet: your veterinarian. With years of specialized training and practical experience, veterinarians are the ones who can diagnose and ultimately help your pet.

That kind of responsibility comes with a lot of pressure. Desperate pet owners fearing the worst for their animals often come to veterinarians showing some intense emotions. And while vets are trained to handle just about any animal emergency, they are only human, with feelings of their own.

So during those rare moments when a pet parent reaches out to a veterinarian with a very special “thank you,” it can mean the world to the vet.

“I am always humbled and grateful that clients think so kindly of me to give a gift,” says Heidi Watkins, DVM, a small-animal veterinarian with Wagly Veterinary Hospital in Rancho Santa Margarita, California. “Some gifts are simple but unique, and others financially generous.”           

The pet owners who most often give gifts are those who have developed a relationship with the veterinarian, and truly appreciate the care and concern they have received from the vet.

“The gift gestures I have received have tended to come from clients who had pets where I had to manage chronic health issues,” says Dr. Watkins. “We would see each other or correspond often, and I ended up forming a closer relationship with them.”

While a gift may seem like a small gesture, veterinarians are often touched by this show of gratitude.

“While helping an animal and pet parent feel better is often enough thanks, the gesture of a gift can’t help but bring extra joy,” says Dr. Watkins. “There are certainly parts of the job that can be very tough on the heart and soul, so when an owner is happy with the care provided and goes the extra mile to express their happiness and gratitude, I can’t help but feel the love.”

Gift Ideas

Most clients give small gifts, but some can be very generous. Years ago, one client gave Watkin’s hospital a television set for the waiting room. The client had just lost her dog but was so grateful to the veterinary staff, she wanted other clients to have a TV to watch while waiting to find out the status of their pets.

While a gift like this is extremely generous, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to show your vet that you appreciate him or her. Here are some suggestions for gifts for your veterinarian:

  • Sweets. Who wouldn’t like a box of chocolate or a basket of cookies? If you give a gift like this to your vet, you can be sure she will share it with the rest of the hospital staff.
  • Flowers. A nice gift for a veterinarian is a bouquet of flowers. Flowers will cheer up the vet’s office or the lobby—and the entire hospital staff—if she chooses to share them.
  • Jewelry. Most vets go into their profession because they love animals, so animal-themed jewelry like earrings, a pendant or charm bracelet can be a touching gift, usually for a female veterinarian.
  • Pet Photo. A nicely framed photo of your pet can be a welcome gift to a vet who has worked hard to make your dog or cat well again. “Pictures are nice, because when you look at them years later, you remember what you did for that pet,” says Dr. Watkins.
  • Gift cards. Gift cards for Starbucks, a movie theater, Home Depot—any place you think your vet might visit—can be a nice present. Some clients go even further and give generously loaded Visa gift cards.
  • Wine. Who doesn’t enjoy a nice bottle of wine? If you think your vet will appreciate a fine bottle of merlot or sauvignon blanc, consider giving him or her a gift-wrapped bottle.
  • Thank you notes. Sometimes all a vet needs is a kind “thank you” to make his or her day a little easier, especially when euthanasia is involved. Pet parents are not the only ones who grieve when a cat or dog says goodbye. Vets hurt too. A card thanking the vet for his or her compassion can go a long way.

This article was reviewed/edited by board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kenneth Martin and/or veterinary technician specialist in behavior Debbie Martin, LVT.

Audrey Pavia is a freelance writer and author of Horses For Dummies and Horseback Riding for Dummies. She lives in Norco, California, with her two Spanish Mustangs, Milagro and Rio.

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