Is Your Vet the Best for You and Your Pet?

Sep 3, 2018   Tracey Aston   Health & Wellness

Getting a new pet can be exhilarating! In our excitement, we spend our anticipatory time setting up an area for our pet, buying toys, preparing our home and picking out beds, leashes and collars.  We all want the best for our pets! We spend hours poring over training websites. We research the best food brands and cover our refrigerators with “can and cannot” have foods.  We pet proof and double check our pet proofing.  There is a family gathering over picking out the new family member's name.  With all of this research and forethought, one would assume new pet parents would be picking apart the local review section of every veterinarian in the tri-state area.  Honestly, that's not the case. 

How do most new pet parents pick out their new best friend's doctor? Location came first, with family and friend recommendations a close second. While anyone could see the benefit of having a veterinarian close by, proximity doesn't always make the best match.  

Choosing a veterinarian for your pet is a big deal.  Consider the following questions;

  • Is the veterinary practice accredited?
  • Do they have evening or weekend hours?
  • Does the vet offer same day appointments?
  • Do they offer emergency services?
  • Does the vet stay on top of new research developments?
  • Does the vet make time for continuing education to make sure they are up to date on best practices and new breakthroughs?
  • How does the vet feel about getting second opinions on their diagnosis and prognosis? 
  • Is there more than one vet in the practice? If so, will your pet always see the same one?
  • Do they have a specialty or do they have quick access to specialists? 
  • Is the practice a low stress environment for your pet?
  • Does the office offer special entrances and exits for dog aggressive pets?
  • Are they part of an animal hospital? If not, if your pet has an emergency are their health records readily available? 
  • Will the doctors communicate with the hospital on your pet's behalf?  
  • Does the vet offer referrals for specific diagnosis to specialists? 
  • Do their thoughts on holistic health and alternative treatments, and medications match yours? 
  • Do they offer titer testing rather than vaccinations if your pet is ill or had a previous reaction to a vaccine?
  • Do they do dental care? 
  • Do they offer pain management if needed and willing to explain the benefits and risks associated with their pain management plan?
  • Is the practice clean? 
  • Do they have up-to-date technology?
  • If your pet has special needs, is the veterinarian and staff experienced with their specific aliment? 

How do you feel about the vet? Do they communicate with you? Listen to your concerns? Explain things in detail and allow you to ask questions?  Do they check back in with you in a few days to see how your pet is doing?  You are the first line of defense in your pet's health! Unfortunately, more and more stories are popping up in the news about veterinarians not properly addressing the owners concerns, over medicating a pet, vaccinating sick, ill or elderly pets, or being unclear on the possible side effects of medications. Recently, a Mount Pleasant veterinarian was fined for malpractice and ordered to attend 14 hours of remedial education for prescribing a dangerous mixture of steroids and pain medication which cause the dog's kidneys to fail.  All medications have side effects but knowledge is the key here! Your vet must be open to communicating the risk vs. reward of medications and disease progress. They must also be educated on all medications and supplements your pet is taking.  If your pet is on several medications for other ailments make sure the vet or vet tech is documenting all medications so there isn't a chance of causing a dangerous, possibly fatal, interaction! Let's be honest, in the age of the internet, most pet parents will Google a new medication or diagnosis.  If you see something that concerns you, voice your opinion to your vet!  Your vet should be happy to take the time to address your questions or concerns, and if not, they are waving a huge red flag. 

It's your responsibility as a pet parent to be your pet's advocate, to do the research and make sure the veterinarians you're choosing have the same standard of care for your pet as you do!  Open communication with your vet is of the utmost importance for your pet's general health. You must have a voice in the care of your animal! In the article “Striving for Fear-Free Interactions in All Dog Care Fields” Debby McMullen of Pawsitive Reactions, LLC, wrote “Speaking out politely and professionally with facts and figures not only benefits the pets in the care of those professionals, but also the humans who work with the pets. Helping pets feel safer about the respect of their bodies will help them be far more amenable to said humans interactions for important health-related reasons. This alone can increase safety and drastically reduce the chance that something unfortunate might occur.” 

Do not hesitate to change vets if needed or get a second opinion from another vet, your pet deserves the best care. 

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