Dr. Jan Pol recently took time out to answer fan questions on National Geographic Channel’s Facebook page. The questions ranged from details about Dr. Pol’s history and experiences through to his family and the new season of The Incredible Dr. Pol. Read a transcript of the questions and answers below, and be sure to tune in to The Incredible Dr. Pol, Saturday at 10P on Nat Geo WILD.
Comment from Katie S.
Hi Dr. Pol! Just wondering what are some of your favorite/most interesting patients for the upcoming season?
I don’t have favorite animals. The show starts tomorrow night with an episode that features a beautiful golden pheasant with a broken leg. Very interesting animal. Got caught in a fence and broke its leg. I don’t have a favorite animal per se.
Comment from Dr.Pol Fan
Dr. Pol, we love your show….When will your granddaughter be on the show? I have heard many good things about her!
She was here while they were filming the fair episode. I don’t know exactly when that will air, though.
Comment from Katy
Dr. Pol, do you have any pets of your own?
Oh yes. They’ll be in the show. One is the big Great Dane. We also have a Newfoundlander and three cats. They all live happily in the same house. They all get along fine. The Himalayan cat is in one of the commercials.
Comment from Just1MoreMinPins
Dr. Pol we need you out here in the Pacific Northwest! Love your attitude, no fuss no muss…just get it done! Your one of very few vets anymore that does both large and small animals. You actually told a couple their dog was fat!!! Good for you…most vets NEVER tell pet owners that!! So glad your back on for Season 2! Cant wait to watch! Debs
The thing is, I grew up on a diary farm. So I have a great love for cows. But cows are disappearing. Many family farms aren’t here anymore. So now we have a very active small animal practice. Some of my style has carried over from large animals to small. I try to do the best for the animals that I can, while trying to keep in mind what people want to do themselves. As for moving to the Pacific Northwest…It’s a nice place. I like the area. But I don’t think so. I’m too old to move, and my wife has collected too much junk to move to a new area!
Comment from Debi
I love your passion for what you do! Your show is great, good luck with the upcoming seasons…
Thanks. I was the youngest of 6 children growing up on a farm and have always loved animals and wanted to work with them. The challenge for me is always to make the right diagnosis/prognosis, and then do the best you can for treatment. Also, Michigan is a somewhat economically challenged place, and people love there animals, but they can’t always afford Cadillac treatment. So I try to do the best I can.
Comment from Sam T.
What types of animals do you find most difficult to treat?
It has nothing to do with the type of animal. It’s usually the animal that has not been socialized. They’re scared more than anything else. But as long as I can get my hands on them and calm them down, everything is fine. As far as dangerous animals, I was working with a rodeo animal…Those animals are taught to get rid of anything on their backs or on front of them. And they are very good at that. So when you’re working with an animal like that, you have to be very careful. But when you’re dealing with small animals, the scared ones are the toughest.
Comment from James
Can we look forward to seeing more of your wife in the new season?
Oh yea. She’ll be there, just like she was in the first season. She still beats us in target practice.
Comment from ABiggs
Dr. Pol – You’re clearly not squeamish about much, but what was your most awkward animal experience (so far)?
No. Back in the Netherlands we don’t have the blow flies (little green flies that lay eggs in wounds) the same as here in the USA. I was practicing here many years ago and a guy brought in a dog who he said was trying to have pups. And she had a patch of maggots on her back, which was a little bit much. But I bit the bullet, got them cleaned up, and the dog had a bunch of healthy pups.
Comment from Don Havlicek
If you had not become a vet, what other career would you have pursued?
I always wanted to work with animals, and since I grew up on a dairy farm, I probably would’ve gone into that.
Comment from Pat
What was your favorite part of filming the show?
What it does to the students, elementary to college, that see the show and then say “this is what I want to do.” We’ve had so many good comments from those kids that it really makes me feel good. As for the show itself…It’s fun. It’s edited, of course, thank goodness, because I am an easygoing, spontaneous, guy. But it turns out that they don’t edit it all. So watch out for the quirks!
Comment from Ashlynn
Hi Dr. Pol. I was wondering if you had any advice for an aspiring veterinarian.
Keep your grades up, that’s the first thing. Get everything that you need to do to enter college. And then do not apply to just one school. Have an open mind and try to get into wherever you want to or can get in. Start shadowing vets. We have a lot of students come here, (high school, vet techs, etc.). They come here to shadow us. It’s important to get your hours in with a veterinarian.
Comment from Matt
Dr. Pol — My dad is a vet and just retired. He loves your show! What is the most exotic disease you’ve ever encountered in one of your patients? Have you ever had to deal with a quarantine situation?
TB is a disease that almost was eradicated except for the deer in Michigan. It is still in the northeast part of the Lower Peninsula. The entire state of Michigan had to be quarantined. We could not ship cattle to other states. This was within the last 10 years. The TB had gone from deer to cows. We’ve been doing a lot of testing in this area and it is now nearly under control. In the Netherlands, when I was in college, we still had outbreaks of foot and mouth disease, which is one of the very bad viral diseases we need to watch out for in the United States.
Comment from Hazel
What are some tips to keep an old dog alive and kicking for years to come?
It all depends on a few things. If he has arthritis, be sure to give it whatever your vet recommends for the joints. Here we recommend a non steroidal anti inflammatory drug. There are many that are very good. Be sure to keep the pain under control so the dog feels good.
Comment from almc
In season one there were multiple dogs with porcupine encounters. I wanted to know how many of those do you see in a month. Thanks. Love the show.
It all depends. In the winter, they hibernate, and still the dogs will find them. It goes up and down. We’ve seen as many as 5 a day, and then you can go three weeks without one. Your fingers get sore pulling them out!
Comment from Rita
You come across on your show as a very down to earth, compassionate man, having and a real relationship with the animals you care for. How does it affect you when you have to make the decision that an animal has to be humanely put to sleep? It is one part of your job that I find would be highly emotional.
Yes it is. And it’s a decision that I cannot make. The owner has to do it. I am not god and I will not tell them when they have to put an animal down. So ultimately the decision is with them, but if it must be done I do it as humanely as possible.
Comment from Gail
Hi Dr. Pol: Is your son going to assist you this year? His reactions are comical to say the least!
Yes. Charles will be in the new show too. We have a very good relationship together. We like to poke fun at each other. He is not a hands on man. He’s the artistic type, which is why he’s not a veterinarian. I never pushed my kids to become vets. They should do what they want to do. It’s amazing what he’s picked up through the years running around with me anyhow.
Comment from Trudi Wright
Do you have any suggestions on how to get a great dane pup to stop chewing everything… we give her rawhide bones.. and she till trashes the carpet.. shoes… you name it…
I have a Great Dane. The problem is that the dog is bored and is trying to find out what everything is made of. And the only way they can do that is by chewing. Take the dog out for jogs, walks. Get the dog tired. So that when she is home, she sleeps! We have those dogs at home, and when they chew they cause a lot of damage. So she wants to find out what everything is made of but she will stop chewing eventually. Mental stimulation is key. Make her do tricks, make her tired. So when you’re not home, they sleep!
Comment from Ali
hi! I’m am an aspiring vet myself, and I’m a junior in high school, so with college fast approaching, I was wondering if there is anything you recommend I do to prepare myself for the program? Do I need to have an experiences with large animals or anything? Do you know what colleges like to see on applications when applying for pre-vet?
It might’ve changed a lot since I was in school…But start shadowing with veterinarians. Large animal vets are easier to shadow than small animals. Find someone who will let him be around and let him experience as much as possible before he goes to vet school.
Comment from Dr.Pol Fan
Can you compare a prescrotal castration technique with the conventional bilateral scrotal incision technique?
In our clinic, we do the pre scrotal incision, not through the scrotum itself. It heals up a lot better. This is for dogs and cats (dogs basically). Horses, it makes no difference what technique you use. For them, you cut everything off!
Comment from James
Is there a Dr. Pol full-length feature in the works?
I doubt it. I am not going to be a movie star. I like not having to learn my lines, thank goodness. In my show, what you get is what you see (not the other way around). With the crew that’s here, there is no double takes – they have to get the shot the first time. I appreciate it, but no. I will act up in front of the camera, but not act.
Comment from Huron Area Fan
How many years were you in practice?
Hate to say it. I’d like to invoke the 5th Amendment. But 42 years
Comment from April
Dr. Pol, Greetings from South Carolina! I love your show! Just wondering what is the most dangerous situation you have been in working with large animals?
The one time I had to TB test a bull and he was very mean, but I had to get in the pen with him and the people was holding onto the bull by a chain through the nose. But he couldn’t hold on. So I got over the gate faster than I ever thought I could! If you have a dairy herd and have bulls in the herd, those are the most dangerous animals. I am a stranger, I work with the female cows, and I smell like blood. So I have three strikes against me in those situations.
Comment from Dana
How do you manage the high demand of being a vet, and the demand of being a husband, father? Do you ever feel you have to choose one over the other?
No. Diana has been working with me for over 30 years in the practice. We’ve always been together. The kids went with me on the road, all three of them. If they didn’t want to, that’s fine. But we always managed to get to the high school games and all that stuff. Sometimes it meant having quick suppers, but we made it work. The kids couldn’t get away with anything because I could turn up at home whenever I wanted to!
Comment from Vicky
What a great show. I just wish that it had more episodes. Keep up the great work. I do enjoy the fact you don’t beat around the bush you tell it like it is. Just wish more vets were like that.
When I was on the farm, I wanted to know what was wrong, and what to do. And this is what I’ve done with all my clients. I want them to understand what is wrong with their animal, so they understand why I do what I do. Sometimes you have to be a little blunt, because it is the easiest way to get across. It is no use to use complex terms that people don’t understand. My main concern is for the client to understand what is wrong with their animal.
Comment from Sybrand (Klaasjes zoon)
Can you tell us what is the most interesting thing we’re going to see this season?
Depends on the person watching. I hope there are lots of interesting things. I haven’t seen all the episodes yet. There are a couple times when we pull a live calf. That to me is always the most rewarding thing of my job. To be able to keep the calf alive after it was a hard delivery. And there are a couple of them in there. I hope people realize that sometimes it’s not easy to do all that, but it’s well worth it.
Comment from Guest
Being a vet, do you find it more difficult to treat and diagnose your own pets?
No. When i was just starting out as a veterinarian, it was a little harder. I had to spay my own cat. But right now, no. It makes no difference. I spay my own dogs.
Thank you for all the questions. Sorry we couldn’t get to every single one. I hope everybody will enjoy the show just like last year!