I don't know about the rest of you, but I actually pause when someone asks me about my profession. Each and every time I'll wage a cerebral war with myself on the pros/cons of telling this complete stranger about what I do, because 75% of the time the next words will be, "So I have this dog...".

Thursday, March 24, 2011

crappy day

No one wants to tell a client their dog has cancer. That's one of the worst conversations ever.

Last week a patient of mine was diagnosed with splenic hemangiosarcoma. He had surgery and is currently undergoing chemo at a referral practice.

Today I had to tell that same client that the rads of their other dog's chest revealed metastatic cancer throughout the lung fields (I'm unsure where the primary tumor is). You can imagine how that conversation went.


Sadly, this isn't the first time I've had to give bad news to a client about both of their dogs in such a short time. The last time though, it was in the same day. A couple of years after graduating vet school I saw a great client of mine and her two dogs for routine annual exams. The only complaint she had was that one of them had been coughing occasionally for the past few weeks, so I ordered some chest rads while I examined her other dog. Upon opening the mouth I found a rather large ulcerated mass that ended up being an oral melanoma. About the time I started talking to the client about the oral mass though, the rads from the first dog came up. She had a very large pulmonary mass. (The cough worsened quickly over the next few weeks and she was euthanized after developing secondary pneumonia. The other dog had a hemimaxillectomy to remove the oral melanoma; she lived another 2-3 years.)

And then we're expected to somehow walk into the next exam room with a big smile and act like we're excited to see Mrs. Bee's new Bichon. Any other day I would be, just not today. Sorry, it's nothing personal.


  1. That is so harsh, hope tomorrow is better.

  2. I wonder, if people adopt two dogs (or any pet) at about the same age - they'll naturally get old together...it must be so hard to lose more than one friend.

  3. Your anonymous wife :)March 25, 2011 at 8:23 AM


    Hopefully you'll have nothing but piles and piles of cute, fuzzy, healthy, roly-poly puppies today to make up for yesterday!