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How To Choose A Vet: Part 1

Guest post by Steven May

all deal with the service industry. From dry cleaners to mechanics and
everything in between there
Steven May-1 (2) are times when we need to rely on the expertise of
others to get things done right. And once we find that great dentist or plumber
we tend to use them over and over. The hard part is finding them.

owners know the importance in finding the right veterinarian. After all, we
trust them to take care of our beloved friends and want to be assured they’re providing
the best care possible.  So how do we go
about finding the right match for us?  Is
it just a matter of going to the veterinarian or animal hospital closest to
your home or do we need to take a more active role?

pet owners will try to educate themselves as much as possible and with the
massive amount of information now available online it’s become easier than ever
before. From choosing a breed or even an animal that best suits our lifestyle
to learning about any potential medical conditions they may encounter, we are
now able to take out some of the guess work that comes with being a pet
owner.  But there are some things that
can’t be accessed online such as the latest technological advancements in the
veterinary industry and the kind of hands-on experience that a good veterinary
doctor will possess.

believe that veterinarians and owners must work together as a team. Each has a
shared goal of a healthy, happy pet and a big part of reaching that goal is
establishing a good rapport. We want to feel comfortable in communicating with
our pet’s doctor and in return want to make sure they’re listening and
responding to our needs and concerns.

pets can’t tell us when they’re thirsty so it is our responsibility to make
sure they always have clean, fresh water. 
It is also our responsibility to be the liaison for our pet when
choosing and working with a veterinarian. 
By doing the proper research, asking the right questions and building a
positive rapport, we are giving our pets the best opportunity for optimum care
and alleviating the concerns we have when entrusting their well-being to

Here are five Do's for choosing a veterinarian: 

  1. Do Your Research Veterinarians are business owners and like any good business professional
    they need to attract clients. While some may have flashy websites or strong
    advertising campaigns that doesn’t necessarily mean they are the right choice
    for you. One of the best things you can do when searching for the right veterinarian
    is to ask other pet owners who they use. Word of mouth is the best advertising
    there is and a glowing report from a trusted friend, family member or neighbor
    can start you off on the right foot. From there, you will want to do your own
    research on the doctor or facility. The American Animal Hospital Association will help you find fully accredited hospitals in your area. And as most
    legitimate pet care providers have websites you’ll be able to learn more about
    the staff, their specialties and other useful background information. Websites
    such as Yelp can be helpful as the reviews are coming directly
    from pet owners with personal experience with a doctor or hospital. 
  2. Look Before You Leap: You wouldn’t buy a new car without first taking it for a test drive and
    you shouldn’t choose a veterinarian without first visiting the facility. Set an
    appointment to visit the facility with your dog. Pay attention to the
    cleanliness and organization of the facility, inquire in to how many doctors
    and assistants are on staff, if they have any specialties and how long they
    have been in operation.
  3. Curiosity Didn’t Really Kill the Cat: When meeting with a potential veterinarian for the first time the most
    important thing you can do is ask questions. Of course, you’ll want to make
    sure not to put someone on the defensive. This isn’t a trial. But if you start
    the conversation with the thought that this person could become a potential
    team member, and you’ve done your research in to some of the specific medical
    conditions that may impact your pet, you’ll not only be able to listen for the
    answers that you’re looking for but will develop an overall sense of his or his
    character. Are they curt, dismissive and don’t seem to want to take the time
    with you or are they open, warm and patient in answering your questions?
    Remember, a good veterinarian will appreciate speaking to a pet owner who shows
    a real concern and interest in their pet’s well-being. 
  4. Be a Good Team Member: Once you’ve decided on a doctor you’ve added a key member to your team.
    And how you work together can greatly benefit your pet. It’s important to
    remember that while your veterinarian has may have access to the latest medical
    technology it is your ability to convey anything that may be out of the
    ordinary or the overall wellness of your pet. Just saying, “There’s something
    not right” doesn’t give a doctor much to go on. At home, pay attention to the
    following and let your veterinarian know when the symptoms first began.
  • Change
    in physical activity
  • Change
    in appetite or weight
  • Change
    in attitude or responsiveness
  • Change
    in sleep patterns
  • Change
    in frequency of urination
  • Change
    in water consumption
  • Coughing
  • Heavy
    or rapid breathing
  • Incontinence
  • Lethargy
    or depression
  • Lumps
    and bumps on or under the skin
  • Noticeable
    decrease in vision (i.e. bumping into furniture)
  • Shaking
  • Bad

5.  Catching Flies With Honey: Everyone appreciates being acknowledged. Whether it’s a pat on the back
for a job well done or taking the time to ask how someone’s day is going, the
result is typically positive. And as much as we would like to think our pet is
the most important in the world, a good veterinarian is dealing with a lot of
“most important pets in the world.” Being cognizant of your doctor’s hectic
day, asking the right questions and imparting a level of trust in their
expertise will go a long way in establishing the kind of rapport that will
benefit both you and your pet. Remember, people who enter the veterinary
industry do so because they love animals and want to do everything they can to
insure our pets health.  But they’re
human beings and not robots. Treating our doctor and their staff with the kind
of professional respect they deserve, and trusting that they are on your side,
will result in a stronger relationship.  

Check back on Friday, October 26 for tPart 2: Don'ts of Choosing Your Veterinarian 

About Steven May, CVJ: Steven has provided his expert pet advice to both the veterinary industry and the general public for more than 35 years. The former editor of VETZ Magazine and co-author of the popular “What About Wally: Co-Parenting A Pet With Your Ex,” the first book on the subject of pet custody, May also heads The Daily Growl, which provides fun and educational pet information to more than 150,000 followers. http://www.facebook.com/ePetExpert  

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  1. Hi Steven and blogpaws team,
    I agree that word of mouth is the best way to go. I do it with a lot of things such as looking at star ratings number and number of reviews when I shop anywhere.
    Professional atmosphere and staff attitude once I’m in the door at a vet are critical in my doing business with them.
    I also look closely at competence and how much the vet cares about me and my pet. I can give a little leeway to indifference towards humans since some vets only care about non-human animals but it can’t be to the point of neglect or rudeness.
    Thanx for the tips on symptoms to watch and thanx for the helpful post.
    =^-^= Liz (aka Hairless Cat Girl =^-^=

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