Pet Health, Finding The Right Veterinarian
How Do I Know If My Veterinarian Is Good
I fully admit that I am nothing less than "super-high maintenance" when it comes to the care and health of my dogs and cats (or any of my domestic animals). I demand clear and concise answers to questions that I can understand and easily follow through with, and under any circumstances. I want in-depth treatment that has been tried and true, as well as that new practice which may be the miracle cure my pet needs. I am NOT an easy going pet mom. But, who is? When my furry or feathered critters need shots, neutering, general or emergency care, I want to feel as if they are the only critter my Vet gives a hoot about. And so should you!
The Wrong Veterinarian
Not necessarily a bad vet, but absolutely the wrong vet for me and my critters was what I found after moving to a new location in 2009. I had adopted a new pit/Sheppard crossbreed and it was time for him to be neutered. I asked a new acquaintance where she took her pets for treatment, and then blindly made an appointment. To my surprise, I should have done much more research in locating a veterinarian that was suitable for my personality and beliefs when it came to pet medicine! Because, after that one miserably uncomfortable visit, I will never return to that vet again! Here you will find a few tips that will help you avoid my mistakes when you go looking for a new veterinarian!
5 Tips For Finding A Great Veterinarian
1. Don't ask anyone you know!
So often the theory is, "If my friends like their vet, I will like their vet, too." NOT true! I asked a new friend where they took their pets for medical care, and when I met this Vet, I could not make a connection no matter how hard I tried. Where my friend found a thorough conscientious pet doctor, I found a real air-head who seemed to be spread far too thin for my demands. From greeting to post-op advice, my level of trust in this vet was minimal at best. With this mistake in mind, my recommendation for finding a new vet would be as follows;
What You Think Really Does Matter!
Would you go to a Veterinarian just because a friend said they go to him/her?
- Look up vets near you and drop in on them. Don't expect to be invited in like a long lost friend, but they should be eager to answer questions and set up a time for you to come back for a chat.
- Vets can have a pretty tight schedule, so try not to be too intrusive. Understand they have obligations to pet safety and health. But, by explaining that you are searching for a new doctor, you may earn more of their time.
- Don't be an pain, but be assertive in your quest.
- At the very least, they should offer you a price sheet, mission quest, and hopefully something like a flier that tells you a little bit about their hours, type of care, and the facility.
Not Just Along For The Ride!
2. Ask To Take A Tour Of The Vet Facility
I highly recommend checking out the facility firsthand. The things I look for are:
- Is there an autoclave (oven for sterilizing tools and equipment), if you don't see one, ask about it.
- Are there organized areas for particular procedures and exams—i.e., the bathing area is separate from general exam areas.
- Do cages, crates, and all surfaces look and smell clean and are they free of fur and debris.
- Does the facility have a specialized room for surgeries where it is brightly lit and every drawer, bottle, package, box and piece of equipment is label clearly. The whole theater should appear to be freakishly organized.
- No signs of re-used gloves, needles or invasive materials (some vets may reuse needles, tubing, and other non-surgery as well as surgical materials to keep their cost down) This is NOT okay with me. Ask what items are autoclave processed and which are used newly from the packaging. Feel free to even ask who supplies surgical materials to the vet.
- Is the lobby, waiting room, bathroom and hallway clean.
- Do the walls, floorboards, or ceiling show any signs of water, mold, or mildew damage.
- Is there any wiring showing or frayed.
- Are all of the lights working in all areas of the facility. (Be fair now, every once in a while a light bulb is bound to go out, so this doesn't count unless a myriad of bulbs are burnt out.)
- Are all staff members friendly and careful when handling the pet patients.
Find A Veterinarian - Resources
3. When Did A Veterinarian Graduate From Vet School
When I place my pets in the care of a vet, I want him/her to be as experienced as possible, but also up to date on the new practices that are showing promise. To find peace in this area:
- Find a multiple-vet practice.
- At least one doctor with long term veteran experience (10 years or more) as well as a new vet that has graduated in the past five years. For my taste, this is the perfect combination. The experienced vet brings calm confidence and loads of knowledge, while the new vet brings fresh ideas and practices. This also shows me that a veteran vet is willing to mentor while possibly discovering the newest medical findings for him/her self.
How Much Do You Know About A Veterinarian's Day?
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4. Start With A Small Non-invasive Vet Check
The last thing you want to have to do is find a veterinarian during an emergency! Having time and energy to discover the answers you seek will make for a long confident vet relationship.
- Before an emergency crops up, make a regular appointment to have your pet checked.
- During a low-stress check-up you will find the advantage of "interviewing" the veterinarian under stress-free conditions.
- Feel out the manner in which this vet interacts with you and your pet.
- Ask about monitors and equipment for use during surgery—heart EKG, heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen levels should be among the most critical monitoring tools.
- Ask questions and ask for advice.
- Inquire about which diagnostics are performed in-house and which are sent out to a lab(s).
5. Overall Pet Treatment Philosophy
A vet who is very friendly and whom you connect with on a personal level, yet fails to "check under the hood" is the vet most of us end up with. This is an easy mistake to make. Sure, you should find your vet to be pleasant enough and one you can interact with comfortably. But, if after you and Dr. Friendly conclude the appointment and no one has a clue whether or not your pet has a temperature, there is a problem brewing! Know that this is a clear indication that you may need to continue your new veterinarian search. I know it is about the connection, but the priority here is your pet. Your perfect vet makes you feel confident in your pet's health, but he/she will also make sure you know how to maintain that health. The right vet for you will go through the practices of;
Beautiful White Teeth, All 42 Of Them!
- Taking your pet's temperature during every visit.
- Listening to heart and lungs during each visit.
- Looking in your pet's ears, eyes, nose, mouth—and all the stuff on the other end—during each visit.
- Maneuvering his/her hands over your pet from head to tip of tail during any appointment.
- Your perfect vet will press gently on the soft tissue of the tummy, face and genitalia every time your pet is in his/her care.
- Communicating with you AND your pet every time he/she meets with you both.
Find A Great Veterinarian
No matter if you are new to an area, or have recently adopted a cute fuzzy face as your own, finding a great vet for your animal should be a priority. By getting ahead of the chase, and well before an emergency lands in your life, research those pet doctors you think might work for you. Get inside their facility before your pet needs treatment. Make sure the facility is clean, safe, meets medical standards, and has all of the procedures you expect to be available. And quite importantly, make sure YOU and YOUR PET really like your pet doctor. Believing in your pet's medical treatment can have healing powers that help your veterinarian keep your fury friends happy, healthy, and alive!