How To Find The Best Veterinarian

Questions To Ask When Shopping For A New Veterinarian

First question: Will the new veterinarian will accept services provided by your old veterinarian? For example, will they accept the vaccines that your veterinarian provided or insist on starting things all over? Over vaccination is a tremendous problem and leads to health issues. The perception is if a patient is ill it needs to be revaccinated. In truth, because that patient is ill, the last thing it needs is more vaccines. Vaccines should be given to healthy patients, not sick patients. When unhealthy patients are vaccinated, or a vaccine series is repeated by a new veterinarian, it is simply a moneymaking procedure.  Beware!!

Second question: Does the potential new veterinarian believe in three-year vaccinations or vaccinating every year? Some veterinarians argue that annual boosters get the pet in for annual exams. The reality is annual vaccinations get the pet in for annual exams. Every year of life for a dog or cat is somewhere between five and eight years for a human. It’s good to have things checked out as they can change in that period of time. However, using unnecessary procedures is dangerous for the pet and only lines the pocket of the veterinarian.

Third question: How does the new veterinarian’s office interact with your pet? Is she (these days, most veterinarians are women) down at eye level with your dog? Or is she standing with the table in between you? Does she play with your cat and scratch it under the chin? Or does she leave it in the carrier and let her assistant hold? For most pet owners, dogs and cats really are part of the family and most pet owners want to see that same emotion shared by their veterinarian.

Fourth question: Does your new veterinarian take your dog or cat out of the room for procedures? Or involve you and explain what’s going on? Most pet owners wonder what happens behind closed doors when their pet is taken away unless it is fully explained.

Fifth question: Does your potential new veterinarian follow protocols or deliver procedures specific for your pet and your pets’ needs? An example would be with puppies. Puppies and kittens are pretty much always born with worms; it’s just part of the lifecycle of parasites. It is understood by just about the whole world that puppies and kittens should be dewormed when they are weaned. But what comes next? Does your potential new veterinarian follow protocol and insists on more medication? Or does your veterinarian tailor to the needs of your animal and perform a fecal exam? If there are no worm eggs in a fecal sample then there is no reason to deworm.

Questions to Ask Your New Veterinarian

Did you get a new pet and need to find a veterinarian? Or maybe you moved to a new town and have to look for a new vet. There are lots of reasons why we might be in the market for a new veterinary practice to take care of our companion animals. But whether you’re a first-time pet owner or have cared for animals all your life, there are a few key questions you should be asking any new vet. We’ve gathered the best advice from the experts on what to ask a prospective vet:

1.What services are available at the practice? This includes things like X-ray and ultrasound, lab work, and EKG.

2. How does the vet handle emergencies? Some will take your call outside of office hours, some won’t. If they don’t, what emergency clinics do they recommend?

3. What is their vaccination “policy” in terms of what they think is essential vs. optional, and will they accommodate your preferences?

4. Does the practice recommend that you get pet insurance?

How can I prevent my puppy from getting injured or sick?

Just as with children, consistency and discipline are necessary to ensure puppies develop into well-behaved adults who are pleasant to be around and can acclimate to the stressors of everyday life. I believe that training should begin as soon as you get your puppy, regardless of age. Basic guidance, like getting your dog’s attention with a treat, can start on Day 1. Once you have your puppy’s attention, you can work up to having him sit, stay, come, lie down, walk on a dog leash and perform other necessary actions by using positive reinforcement. The best way to avoid trauma and illness is by having your dog stay under close observation and within the confines of a short lead (i.e. non-retractable leash) or demarcated space (dog crate, gated room, etc.) so that dietary indiscretion (eating something one should not), escaping, or less-than-friendly interactions with other animals (including wildlife) do not have the potential to occur.

I recommend all dog owners — and especially new puppy parents — seek the guidance of a reputable dog trainer to ensure that the most appropriate training techniques are being implemented. Good behavior exhibited by a well-trained dog fortifies the owner-companion animal bond and will have positive ramifications for life.

Critical Questions

1. Can you schedule a “meet and greet” appointment at no charge to meet the veterinarian and his/her support team and tour the facility?

You should be given an opportunity to meet with the veterinary staff prior to making the critical decision of who to trust with the care of your pet. You should also have the opportunity to ensure that the facility is modern, clean, and equipped to deliver high-quality veterinary care.

2. Are the preventative health care recommendations up to date with the most current scientific research available in veterinary medicine?

Over the last decade, recommendations in veterinary medicine have moved from “one size fits all” medicine to customizing recommendations for each patient. Regarding vaccinations, studies indicate that your pet may not need to be vaccinated as frequently as previously recommended. Your veterinarian should customize the recommendations for your pet based on the pet’s specific history, age, physical exam findings, and risk factors.

3. Will your veterinarian work closely with specialists and does he/she have immediate access to the most recent developments and findings in veterinary medicine?

The knowledge base in veterinary medicine continues to expand exponentially so that it would be impossible for veterinarians to practice quality medicine without the support of specialists. Your veterinarian should regularly consult and offer referral to one or more of several specialty practices in our area. In addition, if your veterinarian is a member of the Veterinary Information Network he/she has immediate internet access to specialists in all areas and has the ability to search the largest and most up to date database in veterinary medicine today.

4. Will physical examination findings and veterinary recommendations be in a written format for each visit?

Upon leaving a veterinary hospital after a visit, it is often hard to remember all that was communicated about and for your pet. With each visit, your veterinarian should provide you with written examination findings and recommendations for optimal health. These exam findings and recommendations should be a part of your pet’s permanent medical record.

5. Are fees clearly presented & explained prior to delivery of professional services?

High-quality veterinary care does not come without cost. It is important that your veterinary team present in written form and thoroughly explain all fees before the delivery of services. Estimates should be agreed upon in writing before major procedures, hospitalization, or surgery.

Do I need to vaccinate my puppy?”

I am aware of the controversy concerning whether or not children should get vaccines. Because of this, some pet owners also question whether their puppy needs to receive vaccines. But just like in humans, we are fortunate to have vaccines as they provide immunization against many diseases.

The immune systems of dogs and cats respond differently than ours, and not vaccinating dogs has and will lead to significant canine health problems. In my city, rabies vaccination is required by law, and there are several other vaccines that veterinarians recommend on a routine basis.

During the initial examination, your veterinarian can present to you the safest immunization strategy for a developing dog depending on a variety of factors, including the puppy’s age, when the puppy was weaned (stopped nursing from mom), the previous vaccination history, and the current health status. In veterinary medicine, we are fortunate to have vaccinations that prevent infection of specific viruses and bacteria that can be safely administered under our guidance. The “core” vaccinations are those that can protect against infection with fatal diseases (distemper, parvovirus, leptospirosis, rabies, etc.). The “non-core” vaccinations help defend against non-fatal but still significant diseases (Bordetella, lyme, etc.).

Ideally, puppies should only be vaccinated when they are not currently battling other underlying illness (gastrointestinal parasite infestations, respiratory tract infections, etc.). To monitor the immune status of your pup when he has been vaccinated, immune system proteins (antibodies) can be checked by performing an antibody titer (VacciCheck, etc.) and this will ensure that the vaccination series has achieved the intended goal of producing immunity.

Another thing to keep in mind: In addition to protecting your dog from disease, you can help control the spread of the disease to other dogs. So what is good for the individual pup is also benefiting the overall dog population in decreasing the spread and outbreak of disease.