I saw a post a while back on a vet’s office that apparently left a lot to be desired. As much as the wife and I have moved around the country in the past decade, we’ve developed a pretty good system for choosing a vet that is appropriate for us and the care we put into our dogs. And since there are always a lot of folks bouncing in and out of the board, I thought I’d re-post some suggestions I posted a couple of years back. If you stumbled upon the post by any other means other than main page go HERE FOR A
BROADER LOOK AT this site and you will see we are simply concerned about helping pets live a more fuller life.
The hardest part of finding a new vet seems to be just getting started. Sure, you can go through the yellow pages or drive around your area looking for vets, but one way we’ve found to begin eliminating the “hacks and quacks” from the serious folks is actually a twofold method:
1. I call and visit local training clubs (obedience, Schutzhund, agility, herding, so on) and ask who they would recommend for a visit and why. I am more prone to dealing with a vet that is familiar with working dogs/competition dogs because I think they fully appreciate the extra lengths that such owners will go to to ensure the health and well-being of their dogs. To find such clubs, you can check the bulletin boards at local PetsMarts type of places, the bulletin boards at random veterinarian offices or do a web search or call the AKC or other recognized registries/training clubs.
2. Once I’ve tallied up a list of vets to visit, I call and make appointmoint for toe-nail trims–which works out really well since I’m squeamish about clipping nails anyhow. With all the different vets we’ve visited for simple toe-nail trims, we only ran across one out of the dozens who managed to screw it up. That was with our GSD who the vet thought he would just “manhandle” to clip the nails. He got one nail clipped and we grabbed our dog and left–and this was a vet that was fairly well recommended by the local police department’s K-9 group. That’s why we always start with a simple nail trim.
During the nail trim, if you feel any good chemistry occurring between you, your dog and the staff, you have a chance to talk and discuss things, to let them know you’re either new in town or your looking for a new vet. It’s a good opportunity to trade views and see if their philosophies regarding pets and pet care mirror your own.
Once I think I may have found a vet that is preferable to us, I then ask a series of questions after having taken a tour of the facilities and checked out their diplomas on the wall.
How many vets do you have on staff?
This is important to us since we have four animals, who at any given time might have to see the vet on short notice. Having multiple vets on staff (in our case) ensures that all of them will have seen our animals at one time or another within the first six months and not be total strangers to the animals or us and thus not be starting “from scratch.”
What kind of blood work/testing are you able to do on-site?
Patience has never been a virtue of mine, and because of that, I often desire to have lab results forwarded to me as quickly as possible. Vet offices that have to send everything out simply don’t cut it for me. Should one of the animals have a serious disorder, time is critical. The sooner you can definitively determine what the problem is, the sooner you can begin to administer proper treatment.
Do you do OFA, PennHip and genetic testing?
I only do business with vets that can, will and do such testing. Granted, OFA, PennHip and many genetic tests have to be sent off for final evaluation and determination, but I also know of vets who dismiss the importance of such testing. They are bad news in my book.
Are you available “after hours” in case of a real and dire emergency?
This is of absolute importance since during an actual trauma, my comfort level with a strange vet is strained to say the least. Having had to call our vet to the house on several different occasions–one of which a dog died on us–it is my contention that if a vet is not available after hours for an emergency, they are nothing more than a money monger, particularly if they have multiple vets on staff. I refuse to do business with any vet who simply refers us to the local “Emergency Clinic.” There are no exceptions to that rule in our book.
What are your procedures for euthanasia?
Not a pleasant topic, but this is a bit of a “baited” question. If they simply tell me, “Well, we administer sodium whatever and then. . .” we’re outa there. The answer we look for–and find–with quality, caring vets is more like this: “Well, FIRST we’d want to know why you want the dog/cat euthanized? Is it age, injury or what? We prefer to treat when possible, and if you simply no longer want the dog/cat or can no longer keep it, we’ll be happy to charge you the same amount and foster it until we can find a new home for it.”
Good vets know when it’s time to euthanize an animal and when it is not. So, this is another important indicator to us where the vet stands.
What kind of dogs/cats do YOU own?
If a vet owns no animals at all, it would be like going to an unmarried marriage counselor.
How do you feel about breeding?
This is another baited question. I’m not expecting a lecture on all the “overcrowded shelters” in the country, but neither am I looking for a “hey if you wanna breed your mutts, do it and I’ll help” kind of answer either. Instead, I use this question to see how socially conscious, aware and ethical a vet is without being “holier than thou” at the same time. How a vet answers this question is highly subjective and is more “for my information only” than for making a strong determining factor in whether or not to entrust my animals’ care to them.
Do you–and your staff–attend seminars, workshops and other professional functions?
The world of medicine is ever changing, and I want a vet who is proactive professionally and open-minded enough to want to be always continuing their education and abilities. The last thing I want is a vet with a “I know it all, seen it all and done it all” attitude. See ya’, bub.
Do you have a payment plan in the event of emergencies or times of personal financial stress?
This is a HUGE issue with me. And I mean huge. After all, what if the advertising world crashes and burns tomorrow, my stocks burn and I’m suddenly short on cash and my dog gets hit by a car? Every vet we’ve dealt with on a regular basis cares more for the animal than they do for the cash register. But business realities being what they are, they have to charge. That’s why any vet I deal with MUST be willing to set up a “payment plan” in the case of an emergency. Chances are I’ll never need it, but why take chances?
Anyhow, these are but a few suggestions on how to get a good grip on whether or not a veterinarian is right for you. If they can’t, won’t or don’t have the time to answer your questions, they just answered your questions. If you know what I mean.