Your Pet’s Best Health…Straight from the Horse’s Mouth
If your horse (or your dog, or your guinea pig) could speak, she might serve as a translator between you and her doctor – describing in detail that nagging ache, or bothersome indigestion. Or, she might correct you by speaking out about her preferred treatment option. Or, if she could say only one thing in her lifetime, it might be to ensure that you and her doctor could communicate well.
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Despite the fact that your pet cannot accomplish even one of the above feats, I can assure you that she’s at the very least hoping for relief, good health, longevity…and the best way to deliver on her unspoken wishes is to communicate fluently with her veterinarian…her lifeline.
You Want to Do What to my Parakeet?
Standard medical and veterinary terms can seem part of an alien language of sorts. Same-language speakers can come upon barriers of their own. For instance, if your dog’s veterinarian diagnosed him with cryptorchidism, would you confuse it with conjunctivitis? Would you ever mistake a hematoma for a hemorrhage…or how about a hemorrhoid? Would you suffer from confusion if you’re looking forward to infusion of fluids into your cat’s system, and the doctor suddenly intubates with a tube into her throat?
Lay-person muddling of medical terms can complicate your pet’s healthcare – when searching for a second opinion, speaking intelligently about treatment, or even knowing what to expect when making decisions about methods of therapy.
Couple complicated Latin-rooted medical terms with an outright language barrier…and you and your pet could find yourselves stranded in Bizarro world.
French Bulldog or English Mastiff…the Treatment May be the Same
But how would you know?
The French poet Charles Baudelaire once said, “It is by universal misunderstanding that all agree. For if, by ill luck, people understood each other, they would never agree.”
When you converse, or try to, with a veterinarian that is not proficient, or even comprehendible, in your own native language, dog heaven only knows what you’re agreeing to. When you leave a clinic wondering why your dog’s testicle is schedule to be removed for what you thought was an eye infection, something has gone wrong. When your bill reflects major surgery, and your Scottie is wearing a space cone, when all you wanted for her was a nail trim, a miscommunication has occurred. And the victims? Your beloved pet and your darling wallet.
A Language of Love Means Nothing if You Don’t Understand it
The best way to bridge a language gap? Ensure that one doesn’t exist.
When searching out a new veterinarian, whether in your native country, or as an expatriate, make language a requirement. Have confidence that you are understood, and will understand. Demand the only real language of love for your pet – your own. For the sake of that horse (or dog, or guinea pig), and all of her unspoken ailments.
p.s. Maybe you’ve recently moved from your homeland, and are in the process of learning the language of your new soil. While conversing with a French-speaking veterinarian, for instance, would you be concerned with your ability to properly pronounce R’s, U’s, and nasal vowels? Would you be preoccupied with proper usage, like the placement of accents, gender-specific nouns, or tu versus vous? Would you find yourself wondering “Is cettes even a word?” In an effort to avoid your own embarrassment, you might be unwittingly compromising the health of your pet.
p.p.s. Don’t confuse your pet’s veterinary visit with a foreign language lesson. By contracting with a veterinarian that speaks English fluently, you not only ensure good communication, but the best care for your best friend.