The Accidental Veterinarian, by Philip Schott

Philip Schott’s slight book, The Accidental Veterinarian, is a collection of posts from his blog, Vetography. The posts are alternately biographical, advice about pets, and stories about clients and their pets (the best parts). I suspect that long time readers of Dr. Schott’s blog won’t find much new here. For readers who haven’t heard of or read the blog, The Accidental Veterinarian is a fun jaunt through the life of a vet.

Schott is Canadian, with a winning sense of humor, which shines throughout the book. More than once I wished that I lived in Winnipeg*, so that I could take my boys to Dr. Schott. The early sections of the book contain Schott’s origin story. Unlike many vets, I suspect, Schott didn’t grow up in a house full of animals. He only had a pet gerbil after months of begging when he was a boy and a cat that wandered in from the cold when he was a teenager. He fell into veterinary medicine after following his father’s advice to choose a practical major in college. Thirty years on, Schott seems to have found lasting joy in his profession even though veterinarians suffer from high rates of emotional burnout.

Obligatory cat photo: Mogwai (right) and Ari

I asked to review The Accidental Veterinarian because I wanted to read stories about animals, the funnier and more heartwarming the better. I have fond memories of reading All Creatures Great and Small, by James Herriot, as a teenager. There weren’t as many stories as I had hoped. In fact, many of the stories here are launching points for advice about how to care for one’s pets (especially dogs) or when to call the vet. That said, there are some good stories about dogs who can’t stop eating things that are bad for them and pets who have names too innocent for their aggressive natures.

Readers who want pet stories would probably be better off reading the blog. Readers who are thinking about becoming vets, however, should pick this book up. In addition to the advice about taking care of our furry friends, Schott also has a lot of advice about how to be a good veterinarian. There are no illusions in The Accidental Veterinarian. Schott is clear that the life of a veterinarian is full of emotional highs and lows, and a lot of work. The highs, he says, make up for a lot of the lows. His best advice is that being a veterinarian is as much about the humans as it is about the pets. Veterinarians have to work with the people who are scared for their pets or who don’t understand the costs of having a pet or who just don’t know what’s involved in having a pet.

Spay and neuter your pets, folks, and don’t forget to get them vaccinated!

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration.

*Also, public health care and whatnot.


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