I was struck by the amount of work owners did to organize their pet care. Many owners created their own spreadsheets or carried around notebooks with them.
Veterinarians modified treatment to work with owner needs, and spent many hours outside of the clinic corresponding with owners via email and text.
"But he's an amazing, amazing kitty. He has gotten me through the one, the worst experience of my life in losing my husband. He has been here for me every day." —Owner of a diabetic cat
"Most vets don't text their patients, and make themselves as available as she did for me. She really was conscious of how much money it costs to go to the vet, especially for emergency visits." —Owner of dog with IBD
"E-mail is better than phone calls because you have the time to really look up the patients records...which is why a lot of doctors will call clients back in the evening instead of taking calls during the day." —Veterinarian, owner of cat with IBD
"The hardest was just getting used to managing her medications and getting in the schedule." —Owner of cat with IBD and CKD
"I have a little notebook and I sectioned it off so there are sections for the date, the time, what her numbers were. How much food did I give her because I weigh her food on a scale. So I know she's getting exactly the right amount of food, and how much insulin did I give her." —Owner of a diabetic dog
"There are some owners that kind of just fall off the wayside, and that's tough because those really sick animals do need the type of treatment plan we're coming up with, but I know it's not for everyone. I do try to tailor the treatment plan. I've gotten good at knowing the owners and what I think they can do." —Veterinarian
Two major issues vets deal with are cost and quality of care. Quality of care can mean perception of a pet’s experience, or the care the pet receives at the clinic or hospital.Information the vet receives from owners is often unreliable. It’s nonspecific, confusing, or irrelevant.
Great vets spend a lot of time on their days off monitoring pets remotely via email or text. The expert specialist expressed a desire for some kind of billable remote care option.Email is a really helpful tool for vets because it gives them a paper trail of communication with the owners.
Vets often play a psychologist role in trying to assess how much treatment they think an owner will do. Follow up is really important for internal medicine specialists.
Some owners report experimenting with dosages at home, either because they were suspicious that their vets have over-prescribed, or because they are cost conscious. Overall, most were trusting of their vets and felt content about their treatment plans.
Most owners did not log data except for those with diabetic pets who logged blood glucose readings.
Attitudes ranged from anxious to relaxed, and care-focused vs. cost-focused and proactive vs reactive behavior. Owners were equally split.
Many owners monitored their pet’s symptoms at home and used technology to help them remember information and communicate with the vet during a visit. Many did this in notebooks, using homemade charts, setting timers, or noting dates in their calendars.
Adapting to a new schedule presented the biggest challenge in many cases. Owners have to get home from work in time to feed their animals every 12 hours. They don’t feel comfortable traveling unless they have a trusted source to give medications and monitor eating habits.
Many pets don’t show clear behavioral changes, so it’s not always clear what’s making them sick, or if they are sick at all.
Treating pets at home produced a lot of anxiety for a variety of reasons. Owners were afraid of hurting their animals, of killing them accidentally, or because their social networks weren’t always as empathic or supportive as they would have liked.