Last week, the Nat Geo Wild team hosted a chat with Dr. Jan Pol, Veterinarian and star of the Nat Geo Wild show, The Incredible Dr. Pol.  Over the hour, Dr. Pol answered questions from animal lovers all over the country. Check out the chat transcript as Dr. Pol shares his perspective on the job he loves, his favorite hobbies, life in the Netherlands and more!

4:28 Comment From Dr. Jan Pol

Hello, this is Dr. Pol. I’ll be taking your questions shortly.

4:31 Comment From Stephanie
How long is the schooling to become a vet? And do you prefer large animals or small animals?

4:31 Comment From Clayton
What’s the most rewarding moment you have had as a vet in your career?

4:32 Dr. Jan Pol:
The schooling is roughly 2-4 pre-vet and 4 years of veterinary school. Since I was raised on a dairy farm, I prefer the large ones!

4:34 Dr. Jan Pol:
When you save the life, those are the most rewarding moments. Like a mother cow giving birth to a calf, and being able to save it and the calf. Or doing a c-section on a dog. Any incident where you can save a life, that is the most rewarding. It makes no difference if it is a large or small animal. Anytime you can save a life, that’s the most rewarding.

4:34 Comment From Serinity
What farm animals are the most difficult to treat or work with?

4:35 Dr. Jan Pol:
The bulls on a diary farm are always the hardest. You have to watch them the most. Also on a rodeo farm. They have no respect for human beings and will take you down if they have a chance.

4:35 Comment From Emily
how do you not wear gloves when you examine the cows and horses for gestation? i know they don’t have the same diseases as humans… but eeekkkk!

4:37 Dr. Jan Pol:
I do! I wear arm-length plastic gloves. However, when you do a calving or a fetotomy you don’t, because the tools would tear the gloves instantly.

4:38 Comment From janice
what is the most unusual animal you have treated?

4:39 Dr. Jan Pol:
It makes no difference what kind of animal. Iguanas, lizards, ferrets, mice, porcupines, hedgehogs. I’ve seen them all. None of them are unusual to me. Snakes are the hardest to treat. They’re nice pets. Smart. But at the same time, they are hard to examine.

4:39 Dr. Jan Pol:
The thing is, with common sense – and if you know what normal is – it makes no difference what kind of animal you have – you can find the abnormal and you can treat it.

4:40 Comment From julie
you have horses? what breed are they and how old

4:41 Dr. Jan Pol:
I have imported Friesian horses. We brought those over 28 years ago. And their offspring (which are two mares) are 6 and 12.

4:41 Dr. Jan Pol:
It’s a very old breed of horse. Used in the Middle Ages. They are very strong. The knights in shining armor would use them. The people expired a long time ago but the horses are still here!

4:41 Comment From Jill
Have you ever gotten a speeding ticket?

4:42 Dr. Jan Pol:
Yes

4:42 Comment From Martha
I love your Great Dane. Do you find they have lots of health problems?

4:45 Dr. Jan Pol:
No. Diane and I have had Great Danes for over 40 years. The biggest problem is that they’re a short-lived breed. They don’t live much more than 10 years. That’s a problem. Some dogs can live to be 14/16. I don’t know if it’s because of the giant size (but probably). We haven’t had many health problems with ours.

4:46 Dr. Jan Pol:
But you find in most large breed dogs (Rottweilers, German Shepherds, etc.), that the stomachs can get twisted. But that can be prevented by not exercising the dogs after they eat. If you let the dog run around after they eat, this can happen. I recommend a strict regimen where the dog only eats after exercise, not before.

4:46 Comment From Guest
Are any of your siblings vets??

4:46 Dr. Jan Pol:
No

4:46 Dr. Jan Pol:
I was the youngest of 6. None of my siblings are. And none of my kids are either.

4:47 Comment From Sandra Walter MI
What advice would you give a child dreaming of being a vet?

4:47 Dr. Jan Pol:
Basically, you have to hit the books hard. Study, keep the grades up. Start volunteering at clinics. Get as much experience as possible. It all factors into your acceptance at vet school.

4:48 Dr. Jan Pol:
We have a lot of HS students come to the clinic to see what the job is like. Because it’s a lifelong commitment.

4:48 Comment From Nikki
Do you think you will ever move into a larger clinic???

4:49 Dr. Jan Pol:
No. I started this clinic and we have more than one vet here. My clinic is large enough for the area we work in. There are other neighboring clinics, so there is a choice. I would not want to move into a larger, corporate clinic.

4:49 Dr. Jan Pol:
And at my age, who would want to change anymore!

4:50 Dr. Jan Pol:
Which doesn’t mean that I’m not looking for new ways of doing things. In this business (of vet medicine) – standing still is going backwards. You have to keep up with the times. I am not a very good book learner, but if you show me a new technique, I will learn it, and I will pick up on it and make it part of my business.

4:50 Dr. Jan Pol:
Medicine is a life long learning process.

4:51 Comment From Gladys
Love your show and always record each episode. My question is “why do dogs eat poop?”

4:51 Dr. Jan Pol:
It’s a dirty habit. Sometimes it’s boredom. It’s not something that they need – they can’t digest it. It’s a habit they get in to. And it can be broken with medicine. Basically, you can teach an animal to leave it alone.

4:54 Dr. Jan Pol:
If your dog is eating wild animal poop (like deer or rabbits), the dog is looking for vitamins. So it’s different than a dog eating dog poop.

4:54 Comment From Guest
have you ever, like human doctors had to turn pet owners in for not taking proper care of their animals?

4:54 Dr. Jan Pol:
(forgive my typing)

4:55 Dr. Jan Pol:
Way too many times. The Animal Control places in the counties are looking for vets to help them out. I work with officers in 5 counties and they get complaints about animal mistreatment. Many times they need a vet to certify that the animals are neglected, and that’s where I come in.

4:55 Dr. Jan Pol:
It’s not a nice job to do. Because most of the times, you just can’t understand why people have these animals in the first place.

4:56 Comment From julie
what is the most dangerous situation you have been in with an animal patient?

4:57 Dr. Jan Pol:
The scariest was giving a TB test to a bull. And he was in a pen. The person holding him with a rope couldn’t hold him. And he said, “I can’t hold him!” So I said, “Ok” and he helped hoist me over the gate!

4:57 Dr. Jan Pol:
Fortunately, I was over the gate before he got me!

4:57 Comment From Philip
Is Charles married?

4:58 Dr. Jan Pol:
No, not yet.

4:58 Comment From Renee
How old were you when you decided to become a Vet? What animals you have as a family?

5:00 Dr. Jan Pol:
We’ve had all kinds of animals. I was 12 years old when my local vet took me to my brother’s farm to help me deliver piglets. I was a tall, skinny kid. I could reach up to my shoulders with these pigs and help pull the piglets out. That’s what started me on the road to becoming a veterinarian. My parents had all kinds of animals. Dogs and cats. Geese, turkeys. Cows, horses, pigs on the farm. When we had our own place here with the kids, we always had dogs and cats, pigeons, peacocks. We’ve had emus. Horses. The kids always had rabbits, goats, sheep.

5:01 Dr. Jan Pol:
We had a Jersey cow for a while. And we would milk it. But it was very bad because Jersey cows produce very fatty milk and so we all started getting fat. So we gave the cow away to someone with a Jersey herd and switched back to 2% milk!

5:01 Comment From 2 Cats in NJ
do you watch the show when it airs?

5:02 Dr. Jan Pol:
Yeah!

5:02 Dr. Jan Pol:
I watched the Christmas Day marathon from the clinic. Everyone else had gone home. It was weird seeing myself on TV all day!

5:02 Comment From Martha
Have you ever been badly injured by an animal?

5:03 Dr. Jan Pol:
Thank goodness no. The worst I had was a couple years ago. A cow ran into my stiff arm and I had my rotator cuff injured. It was fixed with surgery and I have full use again.

5:04 Dr. Jan Pol:
I’ve been kicked, but never hospitalized. People ask me how come? I guess it’s because I grew up with animals. So I’ve learned to read animals. I know not to just reach out to the animal right away. You have to let the animals come to you. With horses, walk up to the horse with your hands in your pockets and let it smell you before you do anything.

5:05 Comment From Philip
What do you eat for breakfast?

5:05 Dr. Jan Pol:
Most of the time it’s coffee, juice and cereal. Fast and easy breakfast.

5:06 Comment From Guest
do you ever go to vet schools to give lectures?

5:07 Dr. Jan Pol:
No. When I came from the Netherlands, I took my board exams in Ohio and Michigan. The veterinary school in Ohio was interested in me teaching. I said no. I want to have a practice. It would take way too much time. But at the same time, we have a lot of people who come to us and learn from me directly.

5:07 Comment From Lorrie
I Love your show, Dr Pol and his entire family are awesome! Dr. Brenda is great too. My question is….. is Dr. Pol he scared of any particular animal?

5:08 Dr. Jan Pol:
Not scared. But yes, I have been careful. Like the rodeo animals. It’s a completely different way of doing things. You can’t just put a hold on them and lead them around. Scared, no. Careful, yes. When I was in school in the Netherlands, we had to vaccinate camels and tigers. But they didn’t scare me either. You just have to know the animal that you’re treating. And be careful so you don’t put yourself in harms way.

5:09 Comment From Bev
Is your wife from the Netherlands?

5:09 Dr. Jan Pol:
No, she was born in the USA, in Michigan.

5:10 Dr. Jan Pol:
But she did spend 3 years in the Netherlands after we were married. So she does speak Dutch.

5:10 Comment From Joanna
Being a vet, do you, if at all, hesitate to eat meat?

5:11 Dr. Jan Pol:
No. I do like meat.

5:12 Dr. Jan Pol:
Nothing against vegetarians of course. I’m fine with everyone doing what they want.

5:13 Comment From Camille
do you like doing your work in the winter?

5:14 Dr. Jan Pol:
Yes. People like to complain. In the winter, people complain that it’s too cold. Too much snow. In the summer, it’s too hot. In the spring and fall, you get stuck in the mud. Each season has a positive and negative.

5:14 Dr. Jan Pol:
Michigan is beautiful with the seasons. Fall with the foliage, winter with the fresh snow, summer and spring with all the plants blooming. I like all the seasons very much.

5:15 Comment From Teresa
Do you ever take a day off to just be around your house and relax there?

5:16 Dr. Jan Pol:
We have several vets at the clinic. So we have a 4-week rotation. At the end of the shift, you get a 3 day weekend. Which is nice. Most of the time, I’m around, so I’m a backup for people who need help. So even when I’m “off”, I often go to the clinic to help out.

5:17 Comment From Grace
what do you do after you cut a dogs balls off?

5:17 Dr. Jan Pol:
They go into the incinerator.

5:18 Comment From Ashley
Do you think someone who has not grown up around farms/farm animals could become successful in this field?

5:18 Dr. Jan Pol:
Yes. It all depends on what your drive is. If you want to, there are plenty of education opportunities with farm animals.

5:19 Dr. Jan Pol:
To be honest, I’ve seen farmers who can’t handle cows. It’s a psychology that you need to have. And if you’re a student, you can enroll in large animal training and get the experience you need.

5:19 Comment From Matt
I love how you always say ‘we’ll see ya’ when you are leaving. I don’t know why. It just seems friendly and comforting. Is that your own habit or did you hear someone always say that growing up?

5:20 Dr. Jan Pol:
I didn’t realize that I have a lot of these idioms that I use. “We’ll see ya” is just me being friendly and reassuring.

5:20 Comment From Barb
Do you plan on retiring anytime in the near future?

5:20 Dr. Jan Pol:
How do you define the near future?

5:21 Dr. Jan Pol:
I was thinking about it, but things change in life. IN the Netherlands, if you’re a vet and you’re 65 you have to retire. Not so here in the United States. I figure, as long as I’m able, I enjoy the work so I’m going to keep going. For a few more years anyway. How long exactly? I don’t know.

5:21 Comment From Martha
Are you aware of the cameras filming during your work? Do you ever have to edit out any scenes?

5:21 Dr. Jan Pol:
Yes. Do I care? No.

5:22 Dr. Jan Pol:
We do not play up to the camera. The camera is like a mouse in the corner that watches us. What we get is what you see. We do a lot more than what gets put in the show, though.

5:23 Dr. Jan Pol:
With the interviews afterwards, they’re always yelling at me “don’t look at the camera!”

5:23 Comment From Ashley
I may have misread this, but I thought I saw somewhere that you have a brother with the same first name… is that right? :)

5:25 Dr. Jan Pol:
Yea. In the Netherlands, it’s customary to name your children after your old parents. So the name Jan is very common. In the old days, the people were not giving double names (first and middle) to their children. Not so any more. It turns out that there were duplicate first names in both my mother’s side and my fathers side. So yes, there are more than one Jan, but we have different middle names. And we would go by our middle names. But technically we have the same first name.

5:26 Dr. Jan Pol:
It’s confusing.

5:26 Comment From jasmine
What are some hobbies you like

5:27 Dr. Jan Pol:
I love working with wood. I’m not a carpenter or anything. But I like to build things. And i like to fix anything. Doing things with my hands, basically.

5:27 Dr. Jan Pol:
I would work a little on cars, but the new ones are too complicated. Older cars are much simpler.

5:28 Comment From Guest
Have you ever cried when one of your patients had to be put down?

5:29 Dr. Jan Pol:
I’ve cried with the owners, yes. I’ve always been emotional and I can see how much it hurts when an animal is put down.

5:29 Comment From jasmine
What’s one animal that would love to work on that you haven’t had the opportunity with.

5:29 Dr. Jan Pol:
No, I’ve done it all. I’ve even worked with circus animals when they’ve come to town.

You can catch all new episodes of The Incredible Dr. Pol on Nat Geo Wild every Saturday at 9pm e/p!

 

Comments

  1. Billie Cole
    LongGrove,Iowa
    January 17, 2013, 1:11 am

    Thanks for answering these questions.
    Absoulutely loved it and love your show.

  2. Mackenzie
    Savannah
    January 17, 2013, 4:49 pm

    Hey Dr. Pol! I love your show!!!!! I ride horses so I love to see your episodes with horses! I’m actually thinking about being a horse dentist when I grow up! But my question is what is the most gross thing you had to do as a vet?

  3. Nalan Williams
    Melbourne, FL
    January 27, 2013, 12:50 am

    I have a Silkie chicken with a sinus problem. After several months and several hundreds of dollars, we are back to square one. I would greatly appreciate it if you could answer my E-mail, so I may be able to help her.
    I do thank you very much in advance for your help.

  4. lesly velasquez
    lompoc, california
    January 29, 2013, 1:23 am

    DR. Pol I have a 6 year old female shit zu dog she started developing a severe skin allergy we already tried antibiotics, steroids, medicated shampoos for sensitive skin,Flea controls, special diets/foods, too. No grains and protein that’s what the vet recommend but she improves momentarly . When she transpires she smells awful her skin gets oily, she is scabing over but ther is no apperent wound then she starts scratching and cuts her self open, we currently must have her on a cone to prevent herself from bitting her skin open.
    ***Please HELP!!!! What shall we Do.***

  5. Deborah Graziano
    upstate New York
    January 29, 2013, 9:08 pm

    Dr. Poll and Co. I was raised on a dairy farm of purebred Guernseys in the Catskill Mtn. area of NY. My dad was wonderful and a great example of hard work and resourceful determination. I was a daddy’s girl and spent hours in the barn helping him and learning animal care. He is gone now and there is some fascination with your show for me because it hits so close to home. Everything about Dr. Poll reminds me of him. My life is very different now, and so I keep my memories alive writing stories and poems based on my farm life and love of animals, especially horses since my dad bought me one when I was just four. I just seemed to have some sort of inborn love of them. My first horse came with a white lab mix named snowball, she followed that horse everywhere. I knew those were friesians (dutch warmbloods) I kept seening in the background on your show. I have become obsessed with them and go on YouTube all the time to see them. I don’t get to ride as often as I like but wouldn’t mind having one for riding and driving. Bless you, Dr. Poll, and your family, and staff. I will keep watching. Maybe I will send you some of my published work. Sincerely Deborah

  6. pauline dunnill
    United Kingdom
    February 6, 2013, 5:48 pm

    Today I watched you attend a farmer who had allowed a cow to suffer AGONY for 3 days!!! Why were the authorities not called to convict these scum of neglect and causing unnecessary suffering? Why did you laugh with them at the desperation of the terrified animal and stench of the dead calf inside her while you pushed in arms and saws? Thank God the poor creature died and was released. You are a disgrace to your profession and I am sad that a worthy organisation like National Geographic continues to laud your self enriching practices. You have been convicted of negligence once – other eminent veterinarians say it should be much much more

  7. Terry Sparks
    Central Ky
    February 6, 2013, 7:09 pm

    I will never miss one TV program of Dr. Pol it is the BEST
    of all Channels & that includes All ball games of any sport,
    being raised on farm & from Dairy background when home
    i have a great respect for all Vets. and yes this man knows his Stuff , i relate to nearly ever vet call he makes reguardless of the animal, everyone on this program is to be admired for their hard work & dedication Charles your work is tough ( i understand taking orders from the Dad )
    Brenda you are a top notch vet. i`d be honored to have any of the staff come do my vet calls. I wish there was more programs of this show on TV.
    Regards Terry

  8. romeo knight
    chattanooga,tn
    February 8, 2013, 5:58 pm

    hell’o dr. pol i just wanna say and put my two cent.on about your new show.i really enjoy your program and i’ve learned a lot about dog’s and cat etc.i like how you treat your cliants and really try to help them.and so fourth.also your son mr charles pol.you guys together make a great team.about my self.im a over the road truck.and i meet a lot of people in my time of trucking.you know the one’s that hate you and don’t hate you.the one;s that hate your gut’s for know reason at all but that your not the same color .but it’s worse than that.and that’s all over this country.and this info is not coming t.v or magazine e.t.c i’ve seen it with my on two eye’s from the state washington to south of san diego,ca.thru the middle of tx.to the great lakes of michigan all the way to north east of main to the dirty south of tenneessee.and i mean dirty. to the end of the sunshine state.so i have little neat about people around these parts.but i find it a little weird that your not a hateful person and your staff.but still not yet on your program you’ve not helped one black family.please tell me its not so.

  9. Jan McCollough
    Indiana
    February 10, 2013, 11:48 am

    Last year I read that your grand kids would be in the county fair episode this year. Sat. Feb. 9th was the county fair episode and I tried to guess which of the kids shown were your grand kids. Can you tell us ? My guess is the young lady in sunglasses that looks right into the camera!

    Jan

  10. W.E.Pierce
    Ooltewah TN.
    February 10, 2013, 1:50 pm

    I liked your show until I saw you kill that little healihy dog last night. You and the owner showed NO compasson at all. The owner should not ever have any kind of pet ever,and you should have suggested adoption to someone that had a heart,you sure dont.

  11. Debbie Olson
    Tx. Panhandle
    February 13, 2013, 1:31 pm

    Have been watching your show for a long time, love it. Have seen you pull several calves that were very hard pulls. Do you ever do c- sections on cows, and if you do what is the normal out come ?

  12. Lois Harner
    Westport, Ct
    February 27, 2013, 9:19 pm

    I love Nat Geo Wild, especially Cesar Millan and the Dr. Pol Show. There is much to admire about Dr. Pol but he does give Charles a hard time. He watches and then makes negative comments on much of what Charles does. I would like to start a small, friendly campaign to help Dr. Pol be nicer to Charles. Thanks.

  13. Tomi Plummer
    March 6, 2013, 9:22 am

    Hey! Dr. Pol,
    I’ve got 17 year old paint mare, we bought her last year, we recently switched farriers, and this new farrier is awesome, he told us that her heels were lower than what he likes to see and that her bars are growing in place of her sole. Her sole is very soft. Rosie had great feet before this guys started doing natural balance shoeing. He said he brings the heel back, which shortness the heel. is that right! Now shes lame , her feet are boiling hot and shes laying down all the time. so I’ve called the vet and they want to get some xrays and see whats going! love your show thanks from Maine!

  14. Jerry Gossett
    central Ohio
    March 16, 2013, 1:33 pm

    Hi dr Pol, I really enjoy your show. I grew up with large animals and your show takes me back yo those good old days. And, I really am disturbed by your critics who seem hell bent on taking someone down who’s been successful in life. Some of whom claim to be professionals in the field. What do they want you to do? Give the same care humans get in the hospital?? No farmer could afford that! I’m convinced that these critics are mal-contents who get there jollies by putting others (especially successful ones) down.

  15. Linda Marks
    Akron,Ohio
    March 16, 2013, 8:23 pm

    I have a 9 year old dachshund who has cushungs disease and has a large fatty tumor on his neck. The vet said he has to lose weight from having cushions because she won’t operate until the weight is off. Whats the best thing for cushing disease that I can give him because he is always hungry and I don’t want him to lose muscle mass from the disease. I wish I lived in Michigan so you could see him. Your the best. Thanks

  16. Sandy Thompson
    Moline, Illinois
    April 8, 2013, 5:17 pm

    my mother and I love your shows, we would like to know if the show is coming back on with a new show later in the year.Would miss it a lot Thanks for all the good shows and your feelings about the animals. Hey is Sandra coming back? Love Brenda and the rest of your group. Does Charles still work in California?

  17. Sandra Del Rossi
    Spring Grove,Virginia
    April 20, 2013, 8:02 pm

    I have a 5 yr old Friesian Stallion and he has been getting this irritation along the left side of the crest of his neck near where his mane starts and also the base of his tale. It gets like a crusty scab and then is raw underneath. Do you have an oppinion as to what it may be? He gets to the point where he will rub his mane and tale so bad and lose his hair :(
    Thank you for your time
    Sandy

  18. DIANA WEISS
    ill
    May 20, 2013, 1:46 pm

    I want to know when Dr.Pol will be back on tv

  19. DIANA WEISS
    matteson.ill.
    May 20, 2013, 1:50 pm

    my 3 year old grand son loves the DR POL SHOW .
    HE ASKS ALL THE TIME WERE IS MY SHOW DR.POL

  20. Aniket
    INDIA
    October 26, 2013, 6:58 am

    Hey dr.pol i need your help my pigeon got stuck to neck twisting disease before a week i want a good medication for her she is very close to my heart please suggest me something. thanks

  21. Paule
    March 6, 4:07 pm

    It is really in fact an excellent plus handy item of data. I will be happy you embraced this beneficial info around. Make sure you continue to be us all advised this way. Thanks for giving.

  22. Wendy
    July 6, 8:31 pm

    I’m having a really hard time understanding “your love for animals” when you eat them. I think if you really loved and respected them like you say, then you would leave them off your plate. Makes absolutely no sense and you seem like a smart man. I’m so confused.