How Not To Annoy Your Veterinarian's Office Staff (Or Your Vet)

These guys are just trying to do their jobs. Please, help them help you.
I've admittedly not been working in my new role as an equine veterinary office staffperson for all that long yet, but I've been doing it long enough at this point to know what you, as the average horse owner, can do to help your vet and their staff help you. If you've ever sat up late at night wondering, "HOW can I be LESS ANNOYING to my veterinarian and all of the lovely folks that work for them?!" then this blog post is for you, my friend.

First things first, PLEASE, I beg of you...

Communicate with your vet and their staff about your needs. Need to change an appointment? Having trouble paying down your bill? Need paperwork done by a certain date? Moving your horse? Did your horse go out on lease? PLEASE JUST TELL US. We're here to help you and keep your horse healthy. If we don't know about your problems or needs, we can't assist you. Just reach out. We'll make the magic happen for you.

Clean your horse. If you know the vet is coming out, please please please make sure your horse is caught and clean when they arrive, ESPECIALLY if you're having pictures taken for a Coggins (if I have to try and discern leg markings through caked-on mud one more time I swear I'm going to scream...) or your horse is having an invasive procedure done such as, oh, say, joint injections. This makes your vet's job much easier, and saves the office staff the trouble of hours of intensive photo scrutinizing.

Don't be That Guy.
Again... please communicate. If you are a new client, barn manager, or other person in charge of scheduling veterinary appointments and keeping track of medical history, we just really need you to work with us. If we call you asking for information on what vaccines your horse has received in the past or to verify your information, it's not because we're trying to ruin your lunch break by forcing you to call the vet's office. It's because we need to know how to best set up a healthcare plan for your precious pony. So please call us back. Or email. Or text! TEXTING IS A THING WE DO NOW!

Know your show requirements. If, for example, you are showing in USEF rated hunter/jumper shows, you need to have your horse microchipped, they need to have a negative Coggins, and they need to have a Flu/Rhino vaccination every six months. For out of state competitions, you'll also need an Interstate Health Certificate. Since the recent EHV-1 outbreaks, many venues are also requiring statements from your veterinarian certifying that your horse has not been in contact with any EHV-1 positive horses. And while we can absolutely work miracles at the last second to get you the paperwork you just realized you needed as you loaded six horses on a trailer to go to HITS, it's a much better idea to have a handle on what you need at least a week before you plan on shipping off to the showgrounds. And if you're not sure what you need, just ask! We'll walk you through it.

Don't ask for prescription meds without having the vet out to look at your horse first. If you call me and ask for drugs that a veterinarian hasn't prescribed or otherwise OK'd for your horse, I will not give them to you. Especially if you're asking for heavy-hitters like powerful sedatives. Just, no. If you want drugs, you have to talk to a vet first.

Follow these rules, and Pony Judgement will not befall you.
And last but not least...

Please pay your bill. Look, I know that vet bills ain't cheap, but if you don't pay us, we can't help your horse. Thankfully for you, we're also human and we understand that sometimes money is really, really tight and paying a big vet bill can sometimes seem insurmountable. Payment plans are an option, and we are more than happy to work with our clients to help them pay off their bills in smaller installments so that their horses can still get the treatment they need.

In short, your vet and their staff are here to keep your horse healthy and educate you about what you can do to keep your horses feeling fantastic for their entire lives. Help us help you by not being annoying. After all, a harmonious relationship with your veterinarian (and their office staff) is one of the most important cornerstones of successful horse ownership!


  1. so true. I worked for a small/large animal vet when i was a lot younger and most of that is still true (Except we didn't have text!). And I have never found a vet that won't help you with payments as long as you ask. I love your 'office help' too :) What a great place that you can bring your dog!

  2. The office ladies at my vet are FANTASTIC (even the one that always scares me when she picks up the phone), and I think this list is a great reminder for everyone!

  3. All great points! Communication is key!
    I like to think I'm mostly a prepared client. But my four legged kids like to roll and get dirty the morning of joint injection day. EVERY TIME. I do my best to knock the dirt out before the vet comes of course. But I'm usually running home from work to meet them. In exchange, I pay my bill immediately. So hopefully that balances out!

  4. I'm firmly in the "over-sharer" column, according to my vets so... at least I'm good at communicating? LOL

  5. I started reading this, realized that I hadn’t update my address with the vet, and called them to do that. Really great post and really great reminders in general!

  6. When I was broke my vet used to let me make payments (farrier too) all thanks to my open communication and horse care staff being decent people, that being said every since I was ok financially I always pay in full and on time!


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