Your Veterinarian’s Office Hours: How Do They Affect Your Pet’s Health?

Dr. Patty Khuly

Veterinarian Office Hours

Have you ever had cause to marvel at the limited hours your vet keeps? Did you wonder whether she might be enjoying a nice nap at lunchtime? Taking in a round of golf while you wait? Perhaps it bothers you that he closes at five sharp so he can get home to his kids?

After all, if your vet isn’t available when you wish he were, you could be forgiven for thinking he cares less about your family life than his own. But then, nobody’s perfect, right?

We veterinarians know that having to go to the emergency room before your vet opens up and after he locks the door has to be scary, uncomfortable, and eminently stressful for pet owners –– not to mention expensive. But we can all do the math, too:

Is it worth paying the staff to stay for an extra hour or two? Is it worth the strain on our family lives given that homework detail already lasts until 10 o'clock at night?

After all, most veterinarians’ jam-packed Saturday office hours mean we (and our staff members) already miss out on Saturday morning soccer practice along with all those game day barbecues. Given all those weekends spent at work, most of us can reasonably claim we’ve paid our after-hours dues in full.

Trouble is, pet owners like YOU also have to work. So are we missing out on a broader, more satisfied client base when we close early? Probably.

Yet every time our hospital takes the plunge into slightly expanded hours to meet this unmet demand, we’re left twiddling our thumbs more often than not. Which is when we inevitably decide that the well-established presence of so many after-hours hospitals in our area means we should know better: Leave the extended hours to the hospitals better equipped to deal with them.

It’s probably the case that a happy medium is the way to go. Which is why our hospital allows drop-offs for those who can’t linger and house calls for added flexibility. It’s at least a small step towards recognizing that some clients absolutely cannot take time off to meet their pets’ basic needs if we don’t make some concessions here and there.

So now it’s your turn: How do your vet’s office hours affect you? Does your choice of hospitals reflect your time pressures? Most importantly, how do you think an animal hospital’s hours affect your pet’s health?

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