Dear Dog Lady,

How do I know when it’s time to break up with my veterinarian? During the past couple of times that I’ve brought Buxom, my 4-year-old bichon frise, to the vet, the doctor seems distracted or impatient.

I’ve asked about foods, behavior, allergies, flea and tick prevention, and other things, and the doctor acts kind of aggravated to answer these. Also, after Bux got her first shots, the vet recommended we return every year for parvovirus and distemper vaccinations. I get a postcard reminding me that it’s time to bring Bux in (she hates going and seems to know where we’re headed and digs her heels in).

I have heard from some of my dog pals that other vets don’t require yearly shots and wait up to three years to give the vaccines. I asked my vet about this, and again, she seemed aggravated and told me curtly that she prefers to give shots once a year. What should I do?


A: You should look for another veterinarian. There is no point paying for the privilege of seeing a professional who makes you feel uncomfortable. It seems like you are asking the right questions — all the topics you mention are exactly what you should be asking on behalf of Buxom — so the vet’s sense of aggravation seems unwarranted.

Of course, you don’t want to waste a medical authority’s time. Still, the good vets should discuss your concerns about your dog’s health and give you options. Also, about yearly shots, the current thinking is that parvovirus and distemper vaccines should be given every three years. Your current vet may be using the shots as a poor excuse to get you in the office and collect the fee.

Ask your dog friends for recommendations about other veterinarians. Interview a couple of contenders. Bring Buxom along. Your relationship with a veterinarian can last a long time. You want someone who is empathetic but sharp, substantial and kind.


Dear Dog Lady,

A friend wrote me an email that his dog, Bongo, seemed listless and thirsty. His husband took the dog to the veterinarian, and two days later, I got another email that Bongo had died.

I sent my sympathies, but I feel I should do more. What?


A: A donation in Bongo’s name to an animal charity would be a gracious gesture. When people lose their pets, the resonance can be the same — or deeper — than if they lost a human relative. You really should send a condolence note or something from the heart.

Yes, dogs die all the time, and, yes, you can always get another. But those of us who love a dog know a passed pet can never be replaced. By reaching out to your friend, you will let him know that you do not dismiss or diminish his grief.

Monica Collins offers advice on pets, life and love. Ask a question or make a comment at

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