It’s Not Just Doctors and Nurses. Veterinarians Are Burning Out, Too.

by | Apr 15, 2022 | Health

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At the park near Duboce Triangle in San Francisco, 5 p.m. is canine happy hour. About 40 dogs run around, chasing balls and wrestling, as their owners coo and ’90s hip-hop bumps out of a portable speaker.

One recent afternoon, a Chihuahua mix named Honey lounged on a bench wearing a blue tutu and a string of pearls. Her owner, Diana McAllister, fed her homemade treats from a zip-close bag, then popped one into her own mouth.

After spending two years at home through the pandemic, it’s clear that for a lot of these owners, their dogs are their children.

“I always say, dogs are people, so I love him,” said Yves Dudley, looking on as her 9-month-old collie-schnauzer mix played in the grass.

Across the country, about 23 million families adopted a pet in the first year of the pandemic. Other pet owners, working from home, started paying more attention to their animals’ daily routines, noticing symptoms like vomiting or coughing. The resulting spike in pet health concerns has been straining a corner of the medical world that doesn’t get as much attention as doctors and nurses: veterinarians.

The overwork and staffing shortages of the pandemic have affected veterinarians as much as other doctors and nurses, and dealing with the constant moral dilemmas and emotional output was driving many to burn out even before 2020. The mean salary for vets is about $110,000 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, ab …

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