Finding the right veterinarian for your pet can be a challenge, but you should do this before an emergency strikes. Planning ahead and choosing wisely is the best way to avoid a crisis and in so doing, you’ll find someone who’s going to be your pet’s second best friend. I haven’t been perfect, but I’ve always sought out a vet before any of my pets had an emergency and I’ve made sure the vet’s office was close by, since I often don’t have a car. Location is really important, especially when it comes to cats–they often aren’t fond of driving in cars, and having a vet that’s close by can ease nerves–yours and your cat’s, Catster reports.
Other qualities to look for:
- Communication skills. A veterinarian with good communication skills can make it easier for you to understand if your pet has a complicated diagnosis and can help you determine exactly what your pet needs, Veterinaryschools.com reports. The vet should be able to explain things in a way that makes it crystal clear to you what the diagnosis is and what the treatment will be. When I was living near Bakersfield, California, I took my cat to a local vet to be tested for leukemia. To say that this vet was reticent when giving me information is an understatement. Fortunately, my cat didn’t have leukemia, but he did have an infection, and it was a tough tussle to get the information out of this guy. I felt like I’d just come out of an arm-wrestling match.
- Compassion. A vet who loves and appreciates animals and makes you and your critter feel at ease is really important. A vet who seems preoccupied or distant is a deal-breaker for me.
- Well-rounded thorough knowledge. There’s many different kinds of pets besides cats and dogs, Veterinaryschools.com notes. If your parakeet has aspergillosis, or your ferret has diabetes, a vet who’s on the ball will know the proper tests and medications to use.
- Manual dexterity. This may not seem like a big deal, however, I found out how important this was after my cat Espiritu went postal in the vet’s office and wound up hanging upside down from one of the ceiling beams. Merely grabbing a step stool and improvising a snare, the vet carefully prised Espiritu away from the ceiling beam and continued with the examination. Good manual dexterity can also be important in regards to larger animals–like your dog, for instance who might object to that heartworm shot. Dexterity is also important when it comes to intricate procedures and surgeries, Veterinaryschools.com reports.
- Quick decision making skills when under pressure. If your pet needs emergency treatment, you’ll need a vet who can respond and make decisions quickly. My cute cat Milagro became seriously ill after he swallowed too many plant burrs while grooming his fur. He was crouched on the floor looking miserable and not eating–and let me tell you, this little guy has a huge appetite. We knew there was something really wrong and we brought him to our vet, Alonso, immediately. He could tell by touch that Milagro was suffering with a bowel block and said that surgery may be the only option. However, Alonso did have one trick up his sleeve. He very carefully worked his fingers along Milagro’s intestines, gently squeezing him like a tube of toothpaste. Without being gross, I can safely say that Alonso worked Milagro’s problems out and our beautiful cat was back to getting into things. He’s not quite a year old yet, so it’s his job to do this.
- Clinic staff members should be friendly and well-informed. A few years ago, my cat Penny contracted feline infectious peritonitis. I’d never heard of this disease, but it took her down quickly. I knew she was probably dying. In a panic I took her to the vet. Tests were run and I took Penny back home and waited nervously for the next day, as my vet told me the test results took 24 hours. When the vet called to give me the bad news, this beautiful cat with black velvet fur and lemon yellow eyes had to be put down. It broke my heart, but while I was in the office waiting for the procedure to come to it’s inevitable end, a careless and ill-informed veterinary technician told me I could reuse Penny’s collar for my other cats. Her words twisted like a knife in my stomach, and the vet snapped at her. “No she can’t! This disease is highly contagious!” I cried and held this beautiful cat for a while after she’d been pronounced dead. I felt like I’d been sucker-punched. Since this horrible day, I make sure that the staff at any veterinary clinic I take my pet to is also up to snuff.
How to simplify your search:
There’s a few steps you can take to get your search off to a good start, Catster reports. This includes:
- Word of mouth. Start by asking your pet-loving friends, family members and neighbors if they can recommend a good veterinarian, Catster reports. I have often followed my sister’s advice since she loves animals as much as I do. She’s never steered me wrong.
- Note whether or not the clinic appears clean and comfortable.
- Are there a number of veterinarians available at the clinic, and will you be able to choose a permanent vet so that you can see the same person each time you take your pet in?
- Credentials and degrees should be posted where you can see them.
- Does the facility conduct laboratory tests and x-rays there, or do they have to be sent somewhere else?
- Are services such as grooming, nail clipping, and teeth cleaning available?
- You should also check out the kennels at the clinic to make sure they are clean and odorless. Dog cages and cat cages should be separated to minimize stress for the animals.
The Humane Society of the United States also has recommendations:
- Check online to find out which veterinary hospitals in your area are members of the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). A membership in this organization means that a hospital has met and pursued AAHA’s qualifications in regards to facility, equipment, and quality care.
- While you are deciding where to take your pet, it doesn’t hurt to schedule an appointment beforehand, so that you can meet the staff, tour the facility, and find out about the hospital’s policies. Write down any questions you may have for the veterinarian before the appointment.
These suggestions should make it easier for you to find the appropriate veterinarian for your furry family member. If I have confidence in a veterinarian, it helps me to feel like I’m doing the right thing for my animals. If I feel doubtful after I’ve taken my pets in, it makes me keep second-guessing myself and I start worrying more. I’ve learned over the years to ask questions, and if I have any uncertainties, then I think it’s best to find another vet.
My pets have provided me with much love and happiness. Finding a reliable vet is my way of making sure my fuzzy family members are around for many more years of love and happiness.