Compliance sounds like such a simple word, but unfortunately that is all that stands between successfully managed pets versus a failure.



A veterinarian is just an advocate for your pet. You are the one who is fully in charge of your pet’s life and treatment.


One of the most frustrating things that a veterinarian deals with daily is non-compliant owners and those non-compliant owners blaming the veterinarian for failure of treatment.


Here are a few examples:

1.Dog was given three weeks’ worth of antibiotic for a urinary infection.

The owner brings the dog back four weeks later and says the dog wasn’t any better. When asked how they did on the antibiotic they state they stopped it after two days because it made the dog vomit.


They never called to discuss a different medication or that the animal was sick on the prescribed medicine. Now they are upset they have to pay another office call.

2. Dog just had major surgery on its back leg.

The take-home instructions state, “Do not allow outside by themselves- strict leash walk outside only.” On day two, the owners let the dog run outside unattended. Dog falls into a divot in the yard and breaks its leg. Now the dog needs a second surgery. Owner is upset with us.


3.Cat was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism.

Owner comes back for recheck and the cat is worse. Cat hasn’t been eating for a week. Cat also isn’t getting his medication because the owner doesn’t want to deal with giving a pill. Owner is mad because cat isn’t better.


4. Cat has fleabite allergies.

Even though it is an indoor cat it has a terrible reaction to any fleas that may bite it. Owner continues to bring cat in every two to three months stating the cat just needs an allergy injection.


Every time we discuss keeping the cat on flea medication year-round and every time the owner says he won’t do it. The cat is going to continue to have problems but we are the ones to blame.

5.Dog comes in for vomiting and diarrhea.

Nothing major found on exam. Sent home with medications to help and owner is instructed to call after 24-48 hours if no improvement. Owner calls a week later saying the dog died and it’s our fault.


Do you see the pickle this puts us in?


I love my patients. I want what is best for them. I frequently send home detailed instructions on what owners are supposed to do to treat their furry friends but none of that matters if the owners are not compliant.


Many owners aren’t up front about what they can or cannot do. Some feel embarrassed they cannot medicate their animal or that they let the animal get so sick to begin with. I get it. But you need to understand that you are ultimately in charge of your animal’s health.


So please, give your pets their antibiotics until the bottle is empty (you should never have leftover), call us if the animal isn’t getting better, follow surgical instructions, and make your lives and your pets’ lives easier by complying with your veterinarian’s instructions.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the editorial team.

NicolePaumbo_FiorioABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Nicole Palumbo is a 2012 graduate from University of Illinois. She is originally from the south side of Chicago but chose to move to Northwest Pennsylvania for her first job out of veterinary school, where she currently is still employed. She works with small animals, exotics, and also volunteers her time at the local wildlife rescue, typically performing surgeries and exams on the many raptors that are admitted to the facility. With time she hopes to focus more time on wildlife medicine and also obtain specialization in feline medicine.