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What actions do veterinarians take when coping with clients who are in distress?

I'm a high school student that is working on a career blog project for a class. I'm trying to understand what actions veterinarians take when coping with clients who are in distress. veterinarian

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Matthew’s Answer

I've spoken with vets about this topic and it's counterpart - how they deal with the stress inherent in their job.

The most heart-wrenching thing they bring up is that super-sad moment when a pet needs put down. They told me stories of families that would hand over their pet to the vet and just leave; the vets would be left with a scared pet, who's in pain, and who's just been abandoned by their owners and family. And that's really emotionally draining for most professionals.

Speaking more to your question, I recall the emotional distress of putting down my first dog as an early teenager. The needle, his body relaxing, it was extremely traumatizing and I'm not sure that the vet could - or needed to - do anything too extreme to ease my pain. Professionalism and boundaries and all that, they just offered condolences, gave us tissues, and led us out of the room. And that was enough.

Fast forward a decade, going to put down my girlfriend's dog whom I'd grown close with over several years, and there was a change in procedure. Rather than injecting the lethal shot while we were in the room, the vet injected a sort of sleeping medicine. We got to cry a bit and say our piece and just pretend that she was taking a nap while we shuffled out of the room. That way the dog isn't alone when it closes its eyes, and the owner doesn't have to watch the lethal injection.

It still hurt, of course, but it really dampened the blow of the experience so much.

It's also worth mentioning that some vets are just very impersonal professionals, and that's OK. They're doing their job, and that job does not require them to navigate their patient's emotional distress.
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