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Petshop Staff Who Think They’re Vets

Petshop staff often have greater knowledge of companion animals compared to the average person. But no matter how knowledgeable a petshop staff member is (or professes to be), none have the level of medical expertise your vet has.

Unsolicited (And Often Incorrect) Advice

Despite the fact that petshop staff are not veterinary professionals, I’ve had some try to give me medical advice about my dogs! This advice is not only unsolicited, it's often also contrary to the veterinary advice (from actual vets) I've received.

If I point this out, these self-appointed 'vets' will often insist that they’re right, and that the actual vets (the highly-qualified and highly-experienced vets) who treat my dogs are wrong.

It’s quite stunning, and frankly I’m unsure where such inflated confidence comes from. A petshop staff member is a retail worker; and while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a retail worker, a retail worker is not a trained vet, so I have no clue as to why some petshop staff feel they're in any position to give out medical advice.

Case In Point: Petshop Staff Member Turns Dental 'Expert'

On a recent visit to my local petshop, the staff member on duty started to lecture me about dental hygiene for dogs. Everything he said completely contradicted the many books I’ve read about dogs, and any vet I’ve ever spoken to (including dental specialists) about canine dental health.

Unusually for me, I didn’t dispute the nonsense this guy was spouting. The reason? Well, I assessed the situation, and determined that this guy was so arrogantly self-assured that there was simply no point. So I just nodded vaguely, stared vacantly, and kept my mouth clamped shut.

But, back to my point…

I Implore You!

Taking medical advice about your dog from petshop staff is like taking nutritional advice from someone working at a fruit shop: they might be excellent at their job, but they don’t have expertise in veterinary medicine or human nutrition, respectively.

The reason I'm writing this Dog Blog is to implore you to IGNORE medical advice from petshop staff that directly contradicts that of your vet. Petshop staff might know a lot about the products their shop stocks, but they don’t have in-depth knowledge about dog anatomy and physiology, or canine diseases and conditions. Your vet, on the other hand, does. (This advice also counts in other situations, too. Related reading: Get Medical Advice From Vets - NOT Random People You Meet.)

If you want information about the specifics of a product in a petshop, go directly to the petshop staff, as they are the people in the know on that front. But if you want medical advice about your dog, your vet is the one you should speak to.

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Adopt a homeless animal instead - they all deserve a second chance

It's estimated that 130,000 dogs and 60,000 cats are killed every year in Australia because there are not enough homes for them all. And the global numbers amount to millions upon millions every single year.

Puppy mills are a major contributor to the terrible problem of overpopulation. Puppy mills are essentially 'dog factories' where dogs are forced to churn out litter after litter, with no thought for the welfare of the dogs and all thought for profit. The dogs live in appallingly dirty, cramped conditions all their lives, and when they no longer serve their purpose they're killed, dumped or sold to vivisection laboratories.

Petshops fit into the picture because puppy mills are generally where petshops get their animals from. Furthermore, having animals in shop windows encourages impulse purchases, and adding an animal to your family should be a conscious, careful decision - NOT one to be made while shoe shopping.

Breeders contribute enormously to the tragic statistics above too. And it doesn't matter whether they're professional breeders or backyard breeders, and whether they breed for profit or not, because while there are homeless animals sitting on death row in shelters, any and all animal breeding is utterly irresponsible.

Now, here's where you come in. You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. You can either buy animals from puppy mills, petshops or breeders and be part of the problem. Or you can adopt from a shelter or rescue organisation and be part of the solution.

If I haven't convinced you, visit your local shelter to see the homeless animals. Let their innocent faces convince you that adopting is the only responsible choice to make.

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