5 Tips for Choosing the Best Vet for your Dog
If you haven’t already found one, or worked with one in the past,
you need to find a vet. Pick one you feel comfortable with, and
who answers your questions in full, completely and gives you
answers you can understand. You don’t need a vet who talks down
to you, or acts like you’re too dumb to understand what they’re
Find a vet, if possible, who specializes in small animals (as
opposed to one who treats large and small – like horses, cows,
cats and dogs.) Your community may only have vets that do a
little bit of everything – and there’s nothing wrong with that,
if that’s all that’s available, but I’ll remind you – you usually
go to a specialist for your health issues, don’t you?
If you’re new in the community, or haven’t needed a vet before –
word of mouth is a great way to start looking for a new vet. Ask
everybody you can get your hands on – co-workers, friends with
pets, local humane societies or shelters. Ask questions: are they
happy with their vet? Do they like the way they’re treated when
they take their dogs in?
If your dog is a particular breed, check with the local or state
breed associations to find out who they use, or local breeders.
This can be especially useful if you buy a puppy from a local
breeder, because the vet will have seen your puppy and know at
least some of his history.
You may want a holistic vet. Go to their website at www.ahvma.org
and check out their referral directory. Or contact them via phone
at (410) 569-0795
You may also be interested in a veterinarian who has been trained
in acupuncture through the International Veterinary Acupuncture
XE "Acupuncture" Society. Log onto their website XE
"International Veterinary Acupuncture Society" at
http://www.ivas.org or call 970-266-0666.
Once you have a referral from someone you trust, here are some
questions to ask:
1. What services does the vet offer?
Is it a one-doctor office, or a multi-doctor practice? As vets
try to streamline services many are consolidating practices and
forming partnerships and group practices. There’s nothing wrong
with this – just be aware that you may not always see the same
vet. And find out if they offer 24 hour emergency services, or if
he or she is affiliated with someone in the area who does. Like
everything else in life, illness or accidents don’t always happen
between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.
2. Does the vet offer a full surgery suite with on-site lab work?
If the vet has to send all lab tests to an outside agency to be
processed, you may be getting popped with additional charges
because those tests aren’t being performed or processed in-house.
3. Get a fee schedule.
Cost is usually one of the biggest considerations for dog owners,
and it should be lowest on the list of importance, at least in my
mind. Not because cost isn’t important – of course it is, but -
if you have a vet that you’re happy with – who gives your dog the
best care you can possibly find in your area – does paying a
little extra for that care really matter in the long run?
4. Check out the physical characteristics of the facility.
Is it clean, or does it smell? Are the ads or magazines in the
waiting room current? (That may not sound important, but if the
staff and doctors aren’t keeping up-to-date on the latest and
greatest information, this may not be the place you want to bring
5. Communication – by that I mean how well does your vet
communicate with you?
Will he or she explain the condition or illness in terms that you
can easily understand, or do they try to confuse you with
high-tech or medical jargon? A good vet will go over treatment
options with you, explain necessary tests, review x-rays or test
results, give complete and clear instructions for home care or
further testing requirements, etc.
Take your time to do a complete and thorough evaluation before
choosing a new vet. Your dog’s life literally depends on what
choice you make. Make it a careful one.
Author, "Dog Training Secrets!"
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