Choosing a vet is something we often overlook when we bring home a new dog or cat, but the vet you choose can have a dramatic influence on your dog’s or cat’s health and even emotional well-being. Good vets have good instincts and can help you turn a complicated health problem into a dog who is once again healthy. I’ve grown particularly picky about vets over the years, after a rather dramatic experience with my own dog, Zora. Zora was not a healthy dog in her early years. She wouldn’t eat, was constantly throwing up, and had a variety of behavioral problems. In the first year of her life she was diagnosed with pancreatitis, bloat, and a huge assortment of other health problems. I was convinced my dog would bankrupt me and wouldn’t make it to the age of two. And then I found my miracle vet, who did a few quick diagnostic tests and discovered that Zora didn’t have any organ problems at all; she had food allergies. Ever since a minor change in her diet, she’s been healthy and happy and my wallet has been much less empty. Since then, I’ve learned a few things about choosing the right vet. Here is how to choose the perfect vet for your dog:
Do Your Research
The best place to start is to ask friends and family about their vets. Recommendations can carry you far, and odds are good that if everyone you know loves the same vet, you’ll love them too. Read vet reviews online. If a vet has a series of complaints about the same thing, it’s a good idea to avoid that vet.
Look For Results
Veterinary medicine is as much an art as it is a science, and the best vets have good instincts about what will work and what doesn’t. It seems obvious, but when you take your dog to the vet for a problem, the problem should get better. If you find yourself visiting the vet every two weeks for the same problem, your vet isn’t working for you. Different vets are good at different things, and even if everyone else loves your vet, the ultimate goal you should have in choosing a vet is finding one who can improve the health of your dog.
Vets have to make money, and good vets deserve to be paid for their services. But if every time you visit your vet, you’re offered ten services you don’t need, your vet is more invested in the bottom line than your dog or cat’s well-being.
Look for Compassion and Empathy
If your dog hates your vet, it’s going to be difficult for your vet to care about your dog’s well being. Look for a vet who actually seems to like your dog, who takes the time to get to know your pet before examining her, and seems genuinely invested in your dog or cat’s well being.
Behavioral Knowledge is Important
Vets have to be able to accurately predict which dogs might bite as well as understand what behavioral problems might be caused by health issues. Seek a vet who has a good understanding of animal behavior and who consults an animal behaviorist when she needs to.
Good vets know that any time you have a large group of dogs and cats in one place, there are some safety concerns. Make sure your vet takes these safety concerns seriously. Dogs with aggression issues should be quickly given their own room rather than be allowed to wait in the waiting room. Dog and cat boarding areas should be kept separately, and all dogs being walked by the staff should be on leashes. Finally, while it’s popular practice at some vet clinics to have an office cat, cats should not be allowed to walk around unsupervised. It’s dangerous for the cat as well as for the animals who visit the clinic.
Think About Your Own Special Needs
Every dog and cat owner has their own concerns with their pet. In my case, my dog Brody is terrified of having his ears looked at, so I need a vet who is understanding of this issue. Make sure your vet asks you meaningful questions about your pet and takes your concerns seriously. You should leave your vet feeling like you’ve learned something and all of your questions have been thoroughly addressed.